If one were to head to SEV in the evening, say around the dinner hour, one would notice a large amount of foot/auto traffic on the corner near the closest bus stop. The first few months I was here, I’d try and peer inside the building on the corner to figure out what was going on. Church services? Cult gathering? Kimchi party? No, none of the above. When my Korean-Canadian friends Joyce and Hannah came to SEV this winter, they told us that it was a soup restaurant. What sort of soup? I’m still not sure the name, but I bet as soon as Joyce reads this, she’ll comment with the answer. It’s basically noodles or dough flakes in a sesame broth, sometimes with shellfish, served with a side of…uh…barley. Sounds a bit odd, tastes delicious.

EDIT: (From Joyce) “it’s called kal gook soo (literal translation is knife noodles). kal= knife. gook soo= noodles. the soup base at this restaurant is sesame, and it was the first time i had it like that because kal gook soo normally has a fish/seafood base, so it is not as thick. both are incredibly yummy!”

I threw some spicy red sauce on the barley and the ladies at the next table looked at me like I was crazy. Oh, Korea.

I threw some spicy red sauce on the barley and the ladies at the next table looked at me like I was crazy. Oh, Korea.

The first time we had this soup, we were in Samcheongdong with Karen, who told us that in the leaner years of recent Korean history — the 1950s and ’60s — Koreans ate this soup often. Now that diverse, hearty food is no longer a scarcity, the soup is a bit harder to find. Older Koreans, reminded of the occupation, tend to stay away from it. Erin blogged about the soup the first time we had it, and her memory at the time is much better than mine is ten months later.

We were lucky to discover the restaurant early on this winter. Whenever we were in need of a warm, filling and incredibly cheap meal, we just walked down the street. Any farther and we would have froze to death (damn you, awful Korean winters!).

After winter camp, I stopped going to the restaurant. I thawed out after the miserably cold winter and ventured into Suyu and beyond for meals. As it got warmer, my taste for hot soup waned. I didn’t have the urge to eat there again until a few weeks ago, when camp friend Sandy brought some back to SEV in Tupperware. I finally managed to get there, dragging Jeanette and Mimsie with me. The soup was exactly how I remembered it–thick and hearty. Not necessarily what you’d want to eat on a warm summer night, but a good dinner nonetheless. The whole meal (including a side of mandu–dumplings) cost just ₩5,000, around $4 US.

Sadly, the corner restaurant isn’t on my must-do list for the next week and a half. There’s just not enough time to do everything I still want to do. Dolsat bibimbap, chicken soup and galbi are all must-eats, but fitting them into my schedule is proving to be awfully tricky.

I guess I’ll end this post with the most Melissa conversation ever:
Melissa: Should we go get Vietnamese one last time before I go?
Sarah: A
ren’t you going to Vietnam?