Review: Eulmildae (을밀대)

Following Nampomyeonok and Pildongmyeonok, the Pyongyang naengmyeon series continues with Eulmildae!

Named after one of four castles located on Mt. Moranbong in Pyongyang, the owner took the name because their family used to live nearby it. After coming down south during the war, Mrs. Kim In-joo started up Eulmildae in 1971 in a small shop in Mapo-gu. Since then, Eulmildae has been dishing out its beloved naengmyeon for decades and the lines every summer seems to grow only longer, especially now that Pyongyang naengmyeon (hereinafter referred to as "PYNM") has been growing in popularity among the youngsters too.

Everything about the restaurant, from exterior to interior, gives off an old school vibe. There's almost a lingering sense from the many who have come in and out of this place. 

It's a small shop but you can see how they've expanded the interior over the past few decades. 

Small kitchen where the magic happens.

They take great pride in sharing that their beef, pork, rice, kimchi, and red pepper flakes are all sourced from Korea. 

Menu options include a bowl of mulnaengmyeon at 10K, extra noodles for 4K, bibim naengmyeon for 10K, hwoe (raw fish) naengmyeon for 14K in terms of the noodle dishes.

You can also get a beef flank soup with rice (9K), sooyook (25K for small, 50K for large), mung bean pancakes (8K), or skate fish (40K).

Broth (yooksoo), pickled radish, and mustard on the side are provided.

Mool and bibim naengmyeon

The famed mool naengmyeon from Eulmildae. There are a number of aspects of the mool naengmyeon at Eulmildae that makes their noodles unique. Right away one of the first striking thing about their mool naengmyeon is the icy, slushy broth. Their homemade broth is frozen whole and then served as it melts to customers to really bring the “naeng” (or “cold” in Chinese character) to naengmyeon. The resulting, sherbet-like texture of the broth is one of the differentiating qualities of Eulmildae’s naengmyeon.

The broth itself is something they take great pride in as they take nearly all meat of the cow (including expensive cuts like rib, sirloin, etc) as well as the bones to make an ultra-rich stock. The resulting stock is a bit richer than conventional Pyongyang naengmyeon but it also makes a great stepping stone for PYNM newbies. Eulmildae’s owners even insists you minimalize the addition of vinegar and mustard (or do without it altogether) for their rich soup.

The garnish brings about a nice variety in texture. The chewy, lean boiled meat, crunchy cucumber and radish, etc. Another unique aspect about the naengmyeon here is that they serve the hard-boiled egg cut width-wise.  

Now, Eulmildae’s naengmyeon isn’t without “controversy” as PYNM purists will say the noodles here are not completely ala Pyongyang. You’ll notice the noodles here are a bit thicker than other places and also with a more glutinous (chewy) texture. They leave behind the shell of the buckwheat when making the noodles to enhance the buckwheat texture and they also add starchy powder like potato powder to give it that extra elasticity. This latter technique is one that’s common for Hamheung style naengmyeon noodles which gives it its famed chew. For most, Eulmildae’s noodle preparing method brings the best of both the Pyongyang and Hamheung worlds but for extreme PYNM purists, they will say Eulmildae’s naengmyeon, as fine as it is, is an “affair” between the two styles.

For PYNM it's a bit on the bolder side with flavors and textures that are bigger, stronger, and colder

The bibim naengmyeon is not a convention choice but it has its fans too. The sauce here is quite bold when tasted on its own but, when mixed together, is surprisingly tame- despite how fiery red hot the sauce looks initially. My thinking is that this is done purposefully to let the nutty aromas from the buckwheat noodles stand out. Unfortunately for those used to the extremely spicy-sweet flavors of other bibim naengmyeon they might find the variety here bland.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Though not purely Pyongyang style, Eulmildae is an extension of the general evolution of Pyongyang naengmyeon which merits a visit for its enthusiasts. It's also a great "stepping stone" spot for those unfamiliar to it. 

서울특별시 마포구 숭문길 24
24, Sungmun-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea

Come out of exit 4 of Daeheung station and walk straight along the main Baebeom-ro street for about 400 meters until you get to Sungmun-gil (Sungmun road). Turn left and keep following along Sungmun-gil past the five way intersection for about 100 meters and you'll see Eulmildae on your right.



Parking is a little interesting here. The restaurant doesn't have its own parking so it has an agreement with the nearby Hanjin Building for a discounted price. It might've even been free for like 2 hours or something but I can't recall specifically. 

If you're facing Eulmildae, head north on Sungmun-gil just a bit and turn right on Sungmun 4-gil. Go along it for about 70 meters and the Hanjin Building is on your left. Hug the little road that's to the left of the building to come behind the building where the parking lot is.

Address for the Hanjin Building is:

서울특별시 마포구 숭문4길 15
15, Sungmun 4-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Soju available 

Good news for those who are coming here solo! There's a solo seat by the entrance which will definitely make it easier for you to skip any queues but you even receive a discount if you are seated there!

Eulmildae also operates chains in other locations but I can't attest to the quality there. They are located in Gangnam, Ilsan, and Bundang