Best Kalguksu In Seoul | Korean Knife Noodles
Looking for the best kalguksu in Seoul? Want to try the most famous Korean noodle dish? Looking for a Michelin guide restaurant? Then you came to the right address!
Everywhere in the world people enjoy eating noodle dishes. Pasta in Italy, ramen in Japan and rice noodles in Vietnam. There are so many different types of noodle dishes in the world. But why do people like noodles? First of all, usually noodles are served quick. In a restaurant it doesn’t take too long to prepare and at home it is easy to cook. When travelling abroad there is no risk in trying a noodle dish.
Like the other Asian countries, Koreans love to eat noodles with soup. Kal guk su (which literally translates to “knife noodles”) is the one of the most famous Korean noodle dishes which is served with a soup. All dishes consist of handmade knife cut wheat flour noodles in a broth and other ingredients. Both broth and ingredients are different in each region of Korea. Read on to find out more about Korean Kalguksu noodles in Seoul.
What is “Korean knife noodles”?
The first record of Korean knife noodles was found in documents of the Goryeo era (AD 918 – 1392). At that time it was only served on special occasions. This is because wheat flour was too expensive at that time to cook often. Most of wheat flour was imported from China. In the Joseon era (AD 1392 – 1910) only the Joseon aristocrats enjoyed eating this dish. Andong city is well known for being an aristocratic city so in this city the knife noodles are still served using the same recipe as in the Joseon Dynasty. This is where you find some of the best Korean noodles.
There are many different kinds of broth which can be used in Kalguksu. In Seoul and Andong they use bone marrow to make the broth which makes the taste more savory and it is also slightly more expensive than the other soups. For the Gyeonggi-do province chicken is the main ingredient of the broth. Busan and the Gyeongsang-namdo province uses dried anchovy. This is a very common broth widely used nowadays. In Jeolla-do province it is short-necked clam and during winter they use a simmered red bean soup.
Best Kalguksu In Seoul
Nowadays people can get wheat flour much easier than before so you will definitely see a lot of Korean handmade noodles (Kalguksu) restaurants in Korea. Koreans absolutely love this food, so you can even find 24 hours restaurants which serve this food. Over the years the restaurants have come up with new knife noodle recipes: cold knife noodles for summer, kimchi kalguksu, knife noodles with spicy soup, knife noodle with dumpling soup and the like. Since Seoul and the surrounding sub cities became the greater Seoul there is a chance to taste these different kinds of regional knife noodle dishes. Below you can see our recommended for the best kalguksu in Seoul.
1. Korean knife noodle alley in Namdaemun (남대문칼국수골목)
Namdaemun market is the one of the most famous traditional markets in Seoul. It is quite hard to find this hidden alley as the whole market is so big and crowded. The easiest way to get in is by entering the market at Hoehyeon Station Exit 5. The alley is right next to the accessory street.
In the Kalguksu alley there are several different restaurants all serving the same menu. Unfortunately there is no English explanation on the menu. So just ask for Kalguksu. Once you’ve ordered the knife noodles they start by hand cutting the dough. It is an interesting experience as you can see how they prepare your dish. Like a course menu they also serve some side dishes and small portion of spicy cold noodles before you get your noodles. If you’re still hungry you can always ask them to add extra noodles which is free of charge. They use dried anchovy for the broth.
Most of the time the alley is packed so it might be tough to eat here. But it is definitely a special experience which is a must when in Korea. Another dish that is great is the bibimbap.
Consider visiting Namdaemun market on a food tour as it is a great way to discover different kinds of Korean dishes.
Address: 42-1, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Price: 5500 krw
Opening times: 06:00 – 21:00
2. Kalguksu Myeongdong Kyoja (명동교자)
Kalguksu Myeongdong Kyoja is located in the main street of Myeongdong and have been in business for about 40 years. They own a second restaurant in the same area and it is one of Michelin guide restaurants in Seoul. They cook their knife noodles using a chicken broth. On top of the soup there are four handmade dumplings and grilled ground pork with soy sauce and sesame oil. Those two ingredients give the soup a much richer and savory flavour. Together with the kalguksu they serve an extremely spicy kimchi and a small bowl of rice that can be refilled (for free). We highly recommend to order a portion of steamed dumpling as a side dish. The steamed dumplings are filled with sow meat (mother pig) and vegetables wrapped in thin dough. Make sure to go and try this Myeongdong kalguksu!
Address: 29, Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Price: 8000 krw
Opening times: 10:30 AM – 21:30 PM
More info: here
3. Chanyangjip (찬양집)
Whenever you pass this restaurant you’ll see old ladies showing off their handmade noodle cutting skills. Since the early 1970’s this restaurant has attracted many customers with their Haemul Kalguksu (seafood knife cut noodles) and became a Michelin Guide restaurant in Seoul. The smell from the heated pots will definitely make you hungry and the soup is based on dried anchovy with mussels, clams and shrimps. When looking at the restaurant you will definitely see a trace of the past years. If you are looking to try Korean clam noodle soup this is the place to be.
Address: 5, Donhwamun-ro 11da-gil, Jongno gu, Seoul
Price: 6000 krw
Opening times: 10:00 – 21:00
More info: here
4. Hwangsaengga Kalguksu (황생가칼국수)
This restaurant was formerly called “Bukchon Kalguksu” and is one of the most popular restaurants in Bukchon village. Hwangsaengga Kalguksu is also a Michelin Guide restaurants in Korea. Because of the location there will always be a crowd waiting in front of the restaurant.
The broth is made from ox bone marrow so the taste is rather similar with gomtang. This makes the price slightly more expensive than other knife cut noodles. Another specialty is their homemade “Wang mandu (size-up dumplings)”. When entering the restaurant you will see the workers preparing them.
Address: 78, Bukchon-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Price: 9000 krw
Opening times: 11:00 – 21:30
More info: here
5. Hyehwa Kalguksu (혜화칼국수)
This restaurant has been serving Andong style knife noodles for more than 30 years. They use a bone marrow broth and add beef brisket which is simmered for 24 hours. The soup is much thicker than the knife cut noodles in Hwangsaengga Kalguksu. This restaurant is also famous for its fried cod. Seven pieces of the fried cod is quite pricey but it is great as a dinner together with Korean rice wine.
Address: 13, Changgyeonggung-ro 35-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Price: 9000 won
Opening times: 11:00 – 22:00
More info: here