Koreans love noodles. Among various types of noodles, Kalguksu is one of the most authentic Korean noodles. I visited a quite popular Kalguksu restaurant located in Daeyeon-dong, Busan.
110, UN Pyeonghwa-ro, Nam-gu, Busan, South Korea
> 10:50 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. (Last order: 8:50 p.m.)
> Closed: Mondays
> Subway: Line 2 (Green Line), Daeyeon station (대연/213), Exit 3 > about 18-min walk (1.2 km or 0.75 mile)
> Bus: No. 68, 134, 138, 138-1 or Namgu 10 at UN Memorial Cemetery/Busan Cultural Center bus stop (유엔공원/부산문화회관)
Gongwon Kalguksu across U.N. Memorial Cemetery
Gongwon Kalguksu is located right across from U.N. Memorial Cemetery and Busan Cultural Center. The restaurant opens at 10:50 a.m. As you can see in the picture above, there was already a long waiting line at 11:20 a.m. And, it was a weekday. When you plan to visit this place, count waiting time for your schedule. At the front door, you get the waiting number just like a bank, so getting the number is your first thing to do.
If you are familiar with Korean Culture, you know that most of Koreans don’t wear shoes at home. And, this cultural habit extends to some restaurants (it could be more than you would expect) including this one. You take off your shoes and put them on a shoe rack at the front. If you are worried about missing your shoes, you don’t need to. It almost never happens. I would rather be more concerned about sitting cross-legged during the meal if you don’t sit on floor in your culture.
The restaurant has moved to a new location on the right next block and changed its interior to all chair sitting. So no more worries about unmatched socks or getting your legs asleep.
Menu of Gongwon Kalguksu
The restaurant does not offer its menu in any other languages than Korean. Let’s go over what they serve. (From left column) Mulchong Jogaetang (물총조개탕) is a soup filled with clams. It should be enough for two people. Next one is the restaurant’s signature dish, Gongwon Kalguksu (공원칼국수). Wangmandu (왕만두) is a plate of large dumplings. Bossam (보쌈) is boiled pork slices. Many regulars recommend this pork dish along with kalguksu, but unfortunately my stomach doesn not belong to the eating competition champion level, so I skipped this one. Maybe next time. Bossam comes in two sizes, medium and large.
The right column is for drinks: soju, beer, makgeoli (Korean rice wine), soda, and a bowl of rice. Here you have to order a bowl of rice separately if you want. All menu are available for takeout.
The prices have risen a bit: Mulchong Jogaetang: ₩3,000, Kalguksu ₩7,000, Wangmandu ₩7,000, Bossam (medium) ₩34,000 / (large) ₩46,000, Mini Bossam ₩17,000, and half Wangmandu ₩3,500. Half Wangmandu is not available for takeout.
The poster on the wall explains how you approach to their food. The first line goes that all Kalguksu and mandu (dumplings) are handmade with love. The second line is very important especially if you are not from pepper-loving cultures. Kimchi is spicy so please take it in a small portion. If you can’t take the heat from spicy food, have radish kimchi instead. As a proud Korean, I think I am not so shy for spicy food, but this kimchi was spicy.
Last part says that their bossam may have pork cartilage that could be too hard to chew so please remove them if your teeth is not strong or healthy enough.
We ordered Gongwon Kalguksu for two and Wangmandu bantting. Kalguksu had enough clams in it (the very first picture of this post).
What is Kalguksu?
Kalguksu (칼국수) is a soothing Korean noodle soup. ‘Kal’ in the name of the food means a knife and ‘guksu’ is noodles. As the name indicates, the soup is made with handmade knife-cut wheat flour noodles. The noodles typically have a thin flat shape and a bit bouncy texture.
Kalguksu comes in a variety, usually depending on how to make the broth. Different regions use different ingredients to make broth. Anchovies in Busan and Gyeongsangnam-do, beef bone broth in Seoul, anchovies and chicken broth in Gyeonggi-do, clams and seafood in Jeolla-do and more.
Kalguksu is normally cooked with sliced vegetables such as onion, zucchini, and carrot. This noodle soup is not spicy unlike many other Korean soups. But, of course, it pairs deliciously with Kimchi.
In Daeyeon-dong Area
Gongwon Kalguksu is located so conveniently that you can visit several points of interest on foot. You need to simply cross the street to visit U.N. Memorial Cemetery and Peace Park. Busan Cultural Center (부산문화회관), Busan’s prominent cultural complex for performances and exhibitions, is even closer than the cemetery.
National Memorial Museum of Forced Mobilization under Japanese Occupation (국립일제강제동원역사관) is right around the corner. The museum was established in order to remember and learn about history of Japanese Occupation period. Right next to the museum, you can find United Nations Peace Memorial Hall (유엔평화기념관). The hall is a memorial facility founded to commemorate the UN Forces who died for freedom and peace of Korea and promote various projects related to the world peace.
Reviews of Gongwon Kalguksu
Since the taste, atmosphere and service are all subjective matters and I don’t consider myself as a qualified foodie, my intention is to introduce and show a restaurant, rather than rate them. You can find links below to relatively legit review sites.