Chil Bo Myun Ok, a Korean BBQ restaurant, is among the top 3 naeng myeon houses commonly recognized in LA. Despite years of eating naeng myeon, both restaurant and home made, in 3 US cities packed with Koreans, the process of eating naeng myeon alongside kalbi still makes no sense me. Imagine spitting a mouthful of masticated cooked beef into a cold bowl of arrowroot noodle soup (especially the Slurpee bowl at Chun Yu) . Envision the disgusting globules of chilled suet forming on top of refrigerated broth. Now transport that mass of North Korean fodder into your stomach. Disgusting. Even more disgusting is the entry fee associated with the unfulfilling bowl of noodles at Chil Bo Myun Ok,
$10 $9.99 + tax + tip.
Summer is coming to LA, and invariably people begin clamoring for naeng myeon; even I am not impervious to the tangy, brain freezing bowls come Mid July in Los Angeles. Though unlike most people, every time I leave a naeng myeon jiip (house of cold noodle), a wave of dissatisfaction washes over. Case in point, the $10 bowl of cold noodles at Chil Bo Myun Ok — it’s a bowl of diluted meek broth, with 200 grams of cheap buckwheat noodles that are 99.5% made in an Korean industrialized complex, topped with a few strands of cucumber, some pears, and half an egg, if the line cook happens to be in a good mood.
Some people are willing to pay ten dollars for that bowl because they have cold noodle cravings, except the exact same noodle, with chilled broth no less, is available at the Korean supermarket for $2. Just look at this ridiculous easy recipe which calls for “flavor packets”. Others may argue the eater is actually paying for the plethora of panchan always found at Korean restaurants. Not so at Chil Bo Myun Ok. That’s a Korean famine on a table:
Of course a bona fide naeng myeon shop would be slow roasting beef bones and doubling up the flavor with added chicken broth. One may suggest a compound soup base justifies a $10 bowl of noodles, until the price tag for that perfect bowl of pho materializes in your mind. Naeng myeon is nothing but unheated pho with rice vinegar and should be priced accordingly. Continuous questioning regarding origins of the actual naeng myeon here at Chilbo Myuok brings nothing but stares colder than the actual noodle. “Some say” the arrowroot noodles are made in-house. Some claim this is the best Naeng Myeon in LA because the 2 slices of beef brisket (again, if the cook’s in a good mood) included is fantastic. Then again, some people enjoy SPAM.
PS. Before the Korean home makers revolt yet again, please just admit, like this awesome Korean cooking blogger, that your mom, and your grandma, makes naeng myun from the frozen soup packets. It’s ok, we won’t judge.