Korean Food  : Kalguksu, Hand-Style Noodle Soup (Knife noodle)


A Noodle Lover

Yesterday, I went to mom’s work place to have a chat with her. Since mom works until late, we hardly had time to talk to each other recently. Also I had some documents to print for my grad-school there.

Again, there was a mission to choose dinner menu, bearing great hunger. I asked mom to suggest dinner options. Pondering, she offered me ‘rice with sauteed small octopus’. Mission accomplished. We were fully content with our decision.

Mom briskly dialed the number. But no one answered and mom slowly hung up the phone with a glum look. “They don’t seem to open today.” said mom.

“Why don’t we have Kalguksu instead?”

I thought mom's eyes twinkled a second.

I dazed for a moment in disappointment. I didn’t want to waste more time on sellecting menu anymore. Moreover, Kalguksu is my least favorite resort for dinner because mom persisted it nearly for 8 years and I became fed of it.
I stared at mom a moment, and nodded to her in a little reluctant way. Seeming regardless of my responding way, mom beamed with amusement and ordered Kalguksu in a singsong voice.

kalguksuKalguksu was delivered after 10 minutes. Mom ordered two sorts of dishes of noodle soup(kal guksu) and pepper paste mixed noodle(bibim guksu). Mom hurried to upwrap them and began to mix one.

kalguksuMixing it with chopsticks blithely, mom said, “Do you know the price of them? They just cost us 5,500 won in total. How cheap!” She bragged about this old fashioned restaurant as if she have been the owner of it. But I think she deserved to say that because she is a loyal patron there.

kalguksuMom’s face lightened up with delight, chewing few strips of noodle in her mouth. Glancing at her, I wondered what made her fond of this food so much.

Kalguksu’s noodle is swallowed in its transluscent soup. It crouches, unrevealing itselfs. I wondered what sort of charm inside of this bowl attracted people.

kalguksuI asked in a calm voice, “Mom, why do you like Kalguksu so very much?” She looked at me, without any hesitation, said, “I love all sorts of noodle.”

I gently stirred inside the bowl, and noodle was shown on the surface. I grabbed chubby noodle sturdily with chopsticks. Chubby noodle.

kalguksuI gaped upon a great discovery from mom. She liked ramen, udon, naeng-myeon, guksu, japchae, naeng-chae, and Kalguksu. I just realized that all of those fell into one category. Noodle.  

The nature of Kalguksu taste is its humanly feeing. It features itself with distinctive noodle that is made by hand and knife, contrary to guksu by machine. Its wavy noodle is uneven and that implies human's touch. 

Eating Kalguksu with Mom, I percieved new features of mom and Kalguksu.

Mom is a pure noodle lover.
Kalguksu is a humanly noodle.

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Korean Food : Red bean Noodle Soup, Pat Kalguksu : Azuki bean Noodle Soup

red bean noodle soup
It was drizzling outside, my b-friend was driving my home to pick me up for dinner. I was choosing dinner menu. It is the most difficult topic, what to eat, for us. The reason is that I want all food. Last time, he chose one, so it was my turn to select our delights.

It was dark, dim, damp, drooping, depressing outside. On the day like this, I feel cold and craving for hot soup. I fell into deep thought to find the novel menu among soup category.

A hundred menus floated on my mind, but I wanted adjacency to sooth my starvation as soon as possible. I drew a virtual village map and browse all restaurants. And suddenly red bean noodle soup restaurant, that I had been nearly 5 years ago, just hit my head. It locates 10 minute far from my home. It is yummy and hot. Finally, I made my decision.

My b-friends and I hurried on to the place. We took a seat on the corner table and ordered two bowls of noodle soup, called Pat Kalguksu, and one plate of dumpling. Soon they arrived.

red bean noodle soupAt first, it seemed not to have any noodle.
But the nuttiness swirling from soup did not at all dishearten me.

red bean noodle soupStirring, I could see green tea mixed noodle submerged in the red bean soup.
More nourishing with anti-aging ingredients.

red bean noodle soupIt tastes best with newly-made fresh kimchi.

red bean noodle soup
I wanted it Sweeter and Sweeter

Red bean noodle soup served here was stuffed with red bean. It was a bit under-seasoned, and I assumed that owner intendedly add less salt for health reason, compared to unconscient owners pour an enormous amount of seasonings.
I feel thankful for her considerate thought.

But, apart from her intent, my taste was a lot different. When I was young, grandma made red bean porridge on winter solstice, but I disliked its blandness without any stimulative sweetness. I refused to eat it, so grandma added sugar in it so that I could eat blithely. Since then, I got accustomed to sugary red bean soup. So I wanted this red bean noodle soup sweeter and sweeter.

After finishing half bowl, I asked the owner a bit of sugar. She immediately brought me a small bowl of it. I didn’t seem the only one who required it. I put a small spoon of sugar on it and gently stir it. When it melts underneath the soup, I ate soup again. This was it, that my grandma used to give me.
Red bean in Korea

In the past

Red beans, also known as azuki beans, are used frequently in Korean dishes. The red color is traditionally considered to repel evil spirits. Red bean rice cake is placed on the tables of babies' first birthday parties, house warming parties and other ceremonies like that.

On winter solstice, the shortest day with the longest night of the year, Koreans eat red bean porridge in Korea. They believed that red color of porridge will block the devils from their family.

The traditional role of defeating evils disappeared and just habitual customs remained, while the red bean’s health effects had more highlighted. It is known as a super-concentrated store of nutritions such as protein, iron, fiber and antioxidant.

It is famed as a diuretic food, that means it’s an effective diet food. Koreans drink red bean boiled water daily, and even eat in place of rice. Red bean also helps blood circulation, so it lowers cholesterol level and treat hypertension, diabetes, and blood related diseases.
Based on these popularity, red bean have been applied to various product categories including snacks, doughnut, pastries, drinks, and even cosmetics. 

The perspective and usage of red bean have been changing as time.
But it is obvious that it is always lovable food for Korean.


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Noodle : Chicken Soup Ramen, Kkokkomyeon : Yacult in Korea




Kkokkomyeon ★★★★☆

Company : Yakult
Weight : 120g

Main Ingredients:


noodle : wheat flour, palm oil, potato starch, modified starch, salt, gluten, etc
soup : chicken soup base, sugar, fine salt, chicken stock, starch, spring onion, egg, pepper, etc

Nutrition Facts : 520 kcal
(serving size: 120g)

Total Carbohydrate 80g(24%) (Sugar 5g)
Protein 9g(15%)
Total Fat 18g (36%) (saturated fat 11g/Trans-fat 0g)
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 1750mg(88%)

Variation : No variation
Similar Product : Nagasaki JJambbong

a published article about Kkokkomyeon

Foodstoryist Review


Color & Texture
: pale yellow soup, transparent and pale noodle
                             smooth, chewy and sticky noodle texture.

Taste : The soup is based on chicken stock. Beyond your expectation, it’s quite rich in flavors. It has sweetness, saltiness, uami and spiciness in one spoon. Staring at soup, I see tiny chicken flakes and chopped spring onions floating upon. 

Due to its soup color, you might think it’s not at all spicy. When I study the soup throughly, I see molecular dots of spices. If you are sensitive to spiciness, you will find the hidden and treacherlous spiciness inside the pale yellow soup.(If you eat it with your Korean friends, they could dare to add extra peppers in it. Stop them.)

Noodle seems to contain more potato starch than normal ramen. It is more transparent and  smoother. Exaggerating, I feel as if I eat potato noodles. It tastes less oily and feel like healthy, on the other hand, it seems over-cooked without oil coating. 


Pros :
White color soup is a very experimental trial in Koreanramen industry that red color soups dominate. Thanks to its revolutional attempt, consumers could experience something extraordinary. You as a foreigner might not understand reason why Korean fell in love with this white soup. If curious, just look around the ramen corner at the discount store. You will see the selves full of red color. That’s the reason. I appreciate its revolt.

Cons : As an instant food it approached, it sells on low cost basis. In other words, less costs, less ingredients. The inventor, the famous gagman Gyunggyu Lee, added more abundant ingredients to enrich the flavors and to enhance nutrition in its original recipe. However, the company minimized the product considering the competitors’ market prices and consumers’ purchase behaviors. If you want to taste the real Kkokkomyeon, I recommend add chopped spring onion, peppers, or an egg.

It contains high volume of sodium. It has 1750mg that occupies 88% of daily value. The figure is higher than normal ramen, so the producer stated on the package that “To reduce the sodium intake, you adjust the amount of soup powder at your tastes.” They already seemed to notify the probable complaints about high sodium contain. You’d better leave some soup in order not to drink 1 liter of water after.

How to cook Kkokkomyeon

1. Boil the 500ml of water.
2. Add noodle, soup powder and flakes, put high heat for 4 minutes.

<delicious cooking tips>

1. 500ml of water is vital(Use a water bottle of 500ml, at your convenience)
2. Add a whole egg(or only egg white) while cooking. Never stir.
3. Put chopped (Cheongyang) peppers into it.



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Korean food : In Winter, My Mom's Best Udon

In winter, shivering with cold and hunger, I just arrived home.

There is just one thing that comes to mind.

I look for Mom taking off my shoes.

“Mom, can you fix me a bowl of Udon?”

When I feel cold, I want to eat something that can warm my body. Noodle soup would be the best choice. I place my hand around the noodle bowl and melt my pinky frozen fingers. I grab my chopsticks and hold some string of noodles and suck it. After delight my mouth with chewy noodle and sip noodle warm soup embracing the bowl with both hands. It warms my hands as well as inside my body. 

Udon in Korea

Udon is a thick wheat flour noodle with hot noodle soup originated from Japan. It became popular in Korea long ago, so there are some Korean who think Udon is Korean traditional soup. Korean Udon has fewer variations compared to Japanese Udon.

Popular in Winter

The Udon popularity in winter in Korea is proved by the sales records. Instant udon sales in winter is twice as much as that in summer. The companies produce almost twice many products in winter. No doubt Udon is representative winter food in Korea.

There are three ways we, Koreans, consume Udon
Snack bar, Udon restaurant, Instant Udon at home.

The first place we eat udon was at a snack bar. These bars carry not only Udon, but also other snacks such as Ramen, Cold noodle, dumplings, rice and so on. It means they regard Udon as one quick prepared snack. You can eat Udon in high way station(휴게소). They serve instant Udon cooked in a short time and fill a driver’s empty stomach. The taste of Udon are not delicate at all, but quite satisfying considered as a fast food.

Second,  at Udon specialized restaurant. we started pursuing more valued noodle taste there. Franchise Udon restaurants such as Jang-udon appeared in Korea and introduced various kinds of Udon to Korea. Later on 2000, customers began to want more sophisticated Udon. To meet the market needs, individually own restaurants were opened by chefs trained in Japan or who benchmarked Japanese Udon restaurants. They provide high class Udon satisfying Korean consumers taste-buds.

Third, Instant Udon intruded into Korean kitchen. Instant Udon, Saengsaeng Udon(생생우동), was approached by Nongsim company in November, 1995, and it has been continuously highly sold till now. Almost Koreans around my age must know the well-known ad copy, “The soup is finishing(국물이 끝내줘요.)”.It literally means that soup comes to the end(full) of your satisfaction, so it finishes you. Implying, the soup is awesome. Through this commercial copy, Saengsaeng Udon(생생우동) became the number one instant udon in Korea.(If you say ‘Gukmul is keun-nae-jueo-you’, your Korean friend will definitely be atonished.)


Saengsaeng Udon Commercial Copy Link

After Saengsaeng Udon has hit the market

There appeared follower items from competitor companies. Most of them couldn't break the dominance of the leader product, so CJ launched Japan traditional instant udon targeting at the niche premium market in 2000. It was carried and stored in the fridge compared to Saengsaeng displayed in the room temperature. It was fresher and more chewy than preserved products. 4 years later, it attained the top of korean udon market having sold 10 million for 4 years. It still stay on the best selling instant Udon and plan exporting to adjacent countries.

My mom’s instant noodle

I remember all types of Udon that I said above
;a snack bar udon, highway udon, restaurant udon, and instant udon. What do I like the best? In terms of the taste, undoubtedly, udon restaurant serve the savory udon bowl with well harmonized flavors.

But, I would say, to me, my mom’s instant noodle in the evening is the best udon. After coming home from school shuddering in the freezing cold day, I eat mom made Udon. Although it’s instant mass produced by a company, my mom adds her warm-hearts to the udon, and yummy small talk as a side dish. It is my best family udon of my life.   

This Winter,
I hope you have your best Udon with your family!




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