Welcome to week 2 of my Korean alphabet series, where I’ll go through the Korean alphabets in food language. If you missed it last week, we covered ㄱ (the first letter of the Korean alphabet). This week, we will cover ㄴ, the second consonant of the Korean alphabet. And do you know what starts with ㄴ(n)?
naengmyun (or sometimes spelled nengmyun, nengmyun, nengmyeon….)!
ㄴ for 냉면
To be honest, I was debating whether to useㄴfor냉면 as an example for ㄴ, as 냉면 is a popular summer food. And it is currently winter in some places (with actual winter weather), so I thought maybe it may or may not be suitable. But hey, if you’re like me, you will have 냉면 cravings all year round, in scorching hot weather as much in the shivering cold months. So this one is for all the 냉면 lovers out there (and soon to be 냉면 lovers as well).
n….eh—ng …… However you want to spell it in Romaja, the vowel sound of it sounds like the “e” sound in “men”.
m…yuh…n (the “yuh” sounds as if you’re about to say “yup”. I spelled it with an “h” so it’s not confused with a “yoo” pronunciation). “Myun” in Korean pertains to noodles. Often times, when making reference to certain noodle dishes, you will see “myun (sometimes spelled myeon)” at the end of it.
- ramyun/라면 (ramen)
- jjajangmyun/짜장면 (black bean noodles)
- jjol myun/쫄면(“Korean spicy chewy noodles)
- dang myun/당면 (the noodles that japchae is made with)
By the way, all those YouTubers’ videos in the links (in the examples above) will make you freaking drool and crave whatever they are having. Anyways, more on those other 면’s later and back to the 면 that we are covering today. For kicks, here is a mukbang of Mommytang making and slurping bibim naengmyun. OMG, now I really want some.
Popular냉면’’s include: 비빔냉면/bibim naengmyun (as MommyTang in the video above is loving) and 물냉면/mul nengmyun (broth-based).Whether it’s eating at home or eating at a restaurant, I always have a hard time deciding which one I want. Luckily, some restaurants will give you both, half and half. One of the local spots I like to go to for my 냉면 fix is Myungdong Tofu House in Buena Park, CA.
Total slurp fest!
비빔냉면/bibim nengmyun (left), 물냉면/mul nengmyun (right).
When I am eating two bowls at once, I usually start slurping on the 냉면 that is a wee bit more appealing at the time (varies with my mood sometimes). Halfway done, I attend to the neglected bowl of the other냉면, showing it some love so it doesn’t get soggy. It’s seriously 냉면 heaven.
Okay, if you are already fairly familiar with Korean food, chances are that you’re familiar with 냉면, as it is pretty popular. Wait, I don’t even know anymore, which Korean dishes have become popularized. I am too close to it to notice what’s been trending lately or have reached international popularity. Can someone tell me? Other than KBBQ (that started it all), kimchi, soon tofu, bibimbap, japchae, ddukbokki, KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) what other dishes have received wide recognition? You know how with each ethnic food, there are various dishes that you think of when you think of the food of a particular country? And yet, the culinary diversity of each can be beyond what is popularized. Like with Korean food, I think one of the lesser known foods may be 청국장 (cheonggukjang).
I’ve never had 청국장 myself, but I sure have smelled it. In fact, writing about 냉면 reminded me of my last visit to Myungdong Tofu House (when I took that picture above). Towards the end of our meal, something was stinking like the sewer.
Curious SS asked our server if the obnoxious smell was 청국장. She said “yes.”
We overheard her yelling at one of the other servers when she went to the back, “I told you not to take orders for 청국장 when there are a lot of people here!” she said in Korean.
It’s a good thing it was towards the end of our meal or I would have lost my appetite and walked out.
Yeah, I am really not tempted to try 청국장. But I’m sure it tastes better than it smells.