Forget the bulgogi and galbi. Instead, chill out in Koreatown with the coolest noodles around. You probably already know naengmyeon, the buckwheat noodles that come either in chilled broth or dry, with spicy seasonings. It's a Koreatown staple, but so are other cold noodle dishes that you'll want when it's too hot to eat anything, well, hot. Ready to think outside the pasta box? Then turn the page for three places to get really great Korean cold noodles.
3. Dong chi mi gook su at The Corner Place:
The Corner Place is famous for its dong chi mi gook su — gook su is Korean for noodles. You get a bowl of slim, pale flour noodles in cool broth that is as light and clear as water. The taste is clean and fresh, a little tangy and slightly sweet. The only additions are cucumber shreds, sliced green onion tops, jalapeño slices and, for color, a tomato slice. The recipe is top secret. The restaurant reveals only that fermented vegetable broth (think kimchi) is involved. Don't ask to take any leftovers home, because it's forbidden. The fear is that you might rush your booty to a lab so that you can become the first foodie to unveil the secret formula. 2819 James M. Wood Blvd. Los Angeles; 213-487-0968.
2. Cold acorn noodles at Ma Dang Gook Soo:
Mighty oaks may grow from little acorns, but so does acorn flour, which Koreans turn into firm jelly for banchan and also into noodles. At Ma Dang Gook Su, you can have cold acorn noodles two ways, in a spicy red sauce with vegetables or in what has to be one of the healthiest dishes around — a cold thick soybean soup. The beans are soaked, boiled and pureed into a creamy white porridge with a slightly nutty flavor. The only color comes from the brown noodles and a simple decoration of slivered cucumber and a tomato slice. Just looking at it cools you down. And you'll feel so virtuous when you finish. Too bland? Then add kimchi to the bowl, which is what Koreans do. Acorn is dotori in Korean, and the two dotori (acorn) noodle dishes are No. 5 on the menu. 869 S. Western Ave. Los Angeles; 213-487-6008.
1. Jjol myeon at Western Doma Noodle:
If you're into salads, not soup, get Western Doma Noodle's “spicy noodle with vegetables,” or jjol myeon in Korean. It's No. 25 on the main menu — there's another cold noodle dish on the separate menu card. The springy, chewy, spaghetti-like noodles are made from potato starch (no flour, the server says). They're covered with chopped lettuce and decorated with the usual slivered cucumber, as well as a few sesame seeds and a hard-boiled egg. This very red combination comes in a shiny metal bowl. The redness is Korean red pepper paste, gochuchang, which is blended into a spicy-sweet dressing. If you order only this, you'll still get a full Korean meal, with plenty of banchan, and a bowl of hot broth and hot barley tea in case you get too cold while eating. 429 N. Western Ave. Los Angeles; 323-871-1955.
Read more from Barbara Hansen at TableConversation.com, EatMx.com, @foodandwinegal and Facebook; Hansen also contributed to The Korean Restaurant Guide: Los Angeles. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.