These are the restaurants serving the most slurpworthy Kalguksu in Seoul.
Located under an overpass near Samgakji Station, this popular restaurant with very long lines hawks its well-known yukgaejang kalguksu noodle soup, also known as yukkal. Yukkal, which is also the name of this restaurant, is a combination of spicy yukgaejang soup and kalguksu noodles. Broth made with beef shank, hand-torn brisket and green onions are all you can see in this seemingly ordinary dish, but this place has been serving this humble dish for almost 30 years. When you order your yukkal, you’ll be served a bowl of yukgaejang and kalguksu boiled in beef broth, separately. Add the noodles to the broth little by little to keep them chewier and fresher for a longer time. Compared to other restaurants, their yukgaejang soup has a deeper and oilier taste to it. Its thick, spicy taste will linger in your mouth for quite a while. If it’s setting your mouth on fire, dilute it with some more beef broth. You can order yukgaejang if you want to have both kalguksu and rice.
Sohojeong specializes in gukshi, a noodle dish traditionally eaten by the Korean gentry from the southeast city of Andong. Sohojeong's gukshi is also known as “Cheongwadae kalguksu," named for the presidential residence since the owner of the restaurant used to cook for former president Kim Young-sam. Thanks to his famous clientele, Sohojeong has many loyal patrons from political and business circles, so don't be surprised to see suits alongside blue jeans. Perhaps this is why unlike most Korean noodle restaurants that have been around for a while, Sohojeong's interior has a distinctly upscale feel. Started in 1985 in Apgujeong-dong and now located in Yangjae-dong, there are a total of 11 branches in Seoul and its suburbs. For those expecting the typical kalguksu noodles with clams and seafood broth, gukshi's meaty broth made with hanwoo may be an unexpected flavor. But there's a first for everything, and after a few more spoonfuls, you'll find yourself craving even more of that meaty yet clean flavor. Sohojeong's side dishes, like Korean leek kimchi and steamed ggaenip (perilla leaves), are tasty too (we recommend wrapping a ggaenip around some noodles and popping it all into your mouth). And their hearty portions are a plus. For those with smaller appetites, ordering one main dish, be it suyuk (boiled pork) or jeon (savory pancake), along with one bowl of gukshi will be more than enough.
Amidst the rampant development in Gangnam, this noodle restaurant has been quietly standing its ground without fuss in the same place for over 20 years. The go-to menu at Samseong Noodles is Pyeongyang style noodles and mandu (dumplings). The broth for their kalguksu (knife-cut noodles) is made from beef leg bone and boiled brisket, rather than the more typical seafood-based broth. Soft noodles are added along with sautéed meat, egg, and pumpkin placed delicately on top for presentation. The mandu resembles North Korean mandu, pinched shut with tofu, but smaller. The Pyeongyang style food is altered to suit the average Seoulite’s taste, so anyone and everyone can enjoy. None of the dishes are mind-blowing persay, but somehow, long after you've finished eating, it has you reminiscing about the taste for a long time. Three popular dishes in the summer are the eobok jaengban (boiled meat and vegetables packed into a bone broth), the chicken noodle dish (sweet and spicy chicken breast, cucumbers and noodles), and finally the light green kongguksu (cold soymilk broth noodle soup), made from domestic green kernel black beans. That's a lot of choose from, but the good news is that none of them will disappoint.
Neighborhoods can boast of trendy new Italian restaurants all they want, but in Seoul, you have to have a good noodle place to hold your own. Taking its recipes from Gurye, a county in Jeollanam-do, this kalguksu joint has the ambiance of a long-beloved neighborhood haunt despite having only opened this past year. At lunch, the place fills with company workers craving the soft, hand-made noodles with nutritious Gurye flour and manila clam soup or the mountain herb bibimbap, while nearby families frequent here at dinnertime. Offering up simple dishes that are done right, the friendly faces of Gurye Woori-mil Kalguksu will make you feel right at home
As the name “Chanyang-jip” (meaning “house of praise”) suggests, a taste of the food at this establishment will have you singing its praises. Chanyang-jip has been serving seafood kalguksu (knife-cut noodles) since 1965. The refreshing broth, made with sea squirt, shrimp, mussel, short-necked clam, dashima (edible kelp), dried anchovy and leek, is a work of art. Some have called the broth “bland,” but the loyal patrons of this eatery, who come because they miss the taste of their mother’s kalguksu, would beg to differ. The secret is in the fresh ingredients. The stock is made with seafood purchased fresh every morning at the seafood market. When a customer sits down and orders, the plump noodles are cooked and put into the broth, then generously topped with crushed gim (dried seaweed) and zucchini. The kalguksu comes with a plastic orange bowl; by the time the diner has finished eating the bowl will be filled to the brim with clam shells and mussel shells. There are also two types of kimchi available to suit different tastes: sour, over-fermented kimchi and freshly-made kimchi. The motherly proprietor is humble about the restaurant’s popularity, claiming that it’s because of the affordable prices (5,000 a bowl, with free refills on noodles), but as the diners pay and get ready to leave, all without exception are sincere in their expressions of satisfaction at the delicious food.
With over ten thousand stores within this store, there’s a reason why people say: “If you can’t find it in Namdaemun, you can’t find it in Seoul.” This is a retail market during the day but it turns into a wholesale market at night. Dish wholesalers, children’s clothing stores, glass shops and mountain-climbing equipment stores grab people’s attention. When it comes to food, braised cutlassfish and kalguksu noodles are the best. Braised cutlassfish alley was formed around 1988, while kalguksu noodle alley was created right after the Korean War. Restaurants here are so famous that it’s hard to find a place that wasn’t introduced to the masses through TV shows and news articles.
This Kalguksu (chopped noodle) restaurant has been in business for over 50 consecutive years. Formally named Jansugang in 1964 , Myeongdong Kalguksu in 1966 and finally Myeongdong Kyoja in 1978, this restaurant prides itself on only having only 2 highly successful stores dedicated to making the best of chopped Korean noodles. Now, the staple restaurants are considered Myeondong’s soul food by many of its devotees who stand in line regardless the time or weather to get their filling of noodles and dumplings. Once seated at one of their small and compact tables, the waiter drops off a mint gum for each person, takes your order (in Korean, Chinese, Japanese, or English) and your payment all at once. Their iconic Kalguksu is made of rich chicken broth filled with diced pork, sliced vegetables, four mini dumplings and most importantly their chewy long and flat chopped noodles. A side of dumplings, with juicy fillings, makes a perfect combination for a hearty meal. The unlimited kimchi served is unique to this restaurant as the powerful garlic taste and smell go will with everything on their menu. The mint gum comes in handy at the end of the meal.
While you can find reasonably priced good noodles at any market, Hongdukkae’s kalguksu noodles, which are served in a huge brass bowl, are available at the unbeatable price of 2,500 won. Hongdukkae Sonkalguksu restaurant is one of the most famous noodle places in this area. People wait in long lines to eat here during the lunch and dinner hours.
Around a year ago, an entrepreneuring and talented cook from Tainan, Taiwan came to Korea and introduced a simple yet impactful menu to Seoul. The incredible thing is that this delicious food is the least expensive food in Yeonnam-dong—you can even order a dish for just 3,000 KRW, which is unheard of in this up-and-coming neighborhood. Not far from Taiwanese Night Market, a relative of the owner runs the Yipum dumpling snack bar and supplies said dumplins, which is why Taiwanese Night Market's king sized dumplings, fried dumplings, and steamed dumplings are delicious (with a special addition to the menu, a boiled shrimp dumpling). During lunch hours, it exudes a simple restaurant-like ambiance with patrons typically opting for Taiwanese style knife-cut noodles or a bowl of rice topped with ribs. But at nighttime, it is crowded with guests in for a drink. They are superb at cooking deep fried delectables, which are perfect with a glass of beer. Instead of the overly saucy sweet and sour pork you might find in an American shopping mall, you'll get a pungent spice-infused Taiwanese style sweet and sour pork here. The deep fried squid that embodies the taste of local Taiwan is popular among local foodies. At Taiwanese Night Market, you'll find an endless list of dishes that are hard or impossible to find in other parts of Seoul, including hunduntang, a Chinese breakfast menu, various kinds of eggplant dishes, silky tofu, and cheese black bean sauce noodles.
Of the hundreds of cheap-eats in the Dongmyo area, the 3,500 won kalguksu at 해물원칼국수 (Seafood Kalguksu) tops the list. The noodles in this dish are fresh and made from the best flour, and the anchovy-based broth is clear and not too salty (you can add some seasoned red-pepper sauce for more acidity). Side dishes of unripe kimchi and yellow radish complement the noodles well, and you’ll be finished before you know it.