Help! I underthought a plate of noodles
July 21, 2009 10:07 PM   Subscribe

What is the name of this cold noodle dish? Most likely Korean or Chinese food.

This one's been bugging me for a while. About 6 years ago there was this restaurant in Kyoto called "Kara Kuri" which pretty much served one dish which I will now describe:
  • Cold noodles, around spaghetti size
  • Topped with cool vegetables (I forget which ones now but along the lines of shredded cucumber, lettuce, bean sprouts, etc) and cold, unseasoned chicken or pork
  • A dipping sauce, probably made from some kind of spicy bean paste
  • Garnished with sesame seeds
You could specify how spicy you want the sauce to be and they would make your sauce with more or less of the spicy ingredient accordingly.

If you pour the dipping sauce onto your plate of noodles, it will be much, much spicier than if you dip the noodles into the sauce. So there is probably a layer of (sesame) oil on the top of the sauce.

I'm guessing it's based on something Korean or Chinese but I haven't had anything like it apart from when my wife tries to recreate it from memory (which tastes pretty good, but memory fades so we're never sure how close it is).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
are the noodles brown ? buckwheat noodles ?
posted by dawdle at 10:42 PM on July 21, 2009

Bibim Guksu ? Mulmak Guksu ?

I think what you're describing is Mul Naengmyeon... umm yummy. perfect for a summer day...
posted by dawdle at 10:53 PM on July 21, 2009

This sounds a lot like the Korean dish Mul Naengmyeon - except in my experience the "sauce" is hot hot mustard, some vinegar (both in bottles on the side) and there can actually be ice in the broth.
Mmmmm. It's soooooo goood.
posted by smartypantz at 11:08 PM on July 21, 2009

Sounds similar to Zha Jiang Mian but not quite.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:11 PM on July 21, 2009

very different from Zha Jiang Mian or Chajangmyeon as Koreans will call it...
posted by dawdle at 11:19 PM on July 21, 2009

Could it be bibin naeng myun? A Korean dish with chewy and somewhat thin buckwheat noodles, topped with pork, cucumber and turnip slices, and often half a boiled egg. It's a lot like mul naengmyun, but without the ice cold soup, and with more red chili sauce. I believe Zha Jiang Mian is not spicy, as the "meat sauce" uses black bean paste.
posted by estherbester at 11:20 PM on July 21, 2009

after re-reading the original question and not seeing mention of a broth, I'm leaning towards Bibim Naengmyeon...
posted by dawdle at 11:23 PM on July 21, 2009

Oops, sorry, I think the photo I linked to is actually mul naengmyun. This is more like bibin naeng myun. I wish there was a more appetizing-looking photo =T
posted by estherbester at 11:23 PM on July 21, 2009

Outside of the "spicy" part, that sounds a lot like the Japanese food Hiyashi Chuuka. Unfortunately, there's not such an awesome Wikipedia page on that and I don't really know where to point you for more information on what is almost certainly the wrong answer anyway...
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:30 PM on July 21, 2009

Yeah, that sounds like hiyashi chuuka. Every place does it a little differently, but the basic idea is the same. Most restaurants only serve it during the summer months; is that when you ate it?
posted by armage at 12:25 AM on July 22, 2009

Incidentally, was the restaurant in question located near Kawaramachi Station?
posted by armage at 12:29 AM on July 22, 2009

Best answer: The reason I ask is that there used to be a tsukemen (not hiyashi chuuka) establishment called Karakuri (辛来人) located in Kawaramachi; it has since closed, evidently, but I found a photo of their tsukemen in case it rings any bells.
posted by armage at 12:34 AM on July 22, 2009

If the noodles were brown-ish and somewhat translucent, it could have been japchae. I've seen it served cold and topped with sesame seeds and oil, but I don't remember there being any dipping sauce except for having a bottle of sriracha available.
posted by thisjax at 12:56 AM on July 22, 2009

My vote is also for bibin naeng myun but since it is Korean in origin and you had it in Japan, the restaurant probably fiddled with the recipe a bit. Not that it makes it any less good, but that's my suspicion.
posted by like_neon at 2:08 AM on July 22, 2009

Isn't that generally how you eat Soba (Buckwheat Noodles)?

I've eaten a Cold Soba noodles dish a few times in Japanese restaurants where its a pile of cold Soba Noodels served with a small Bowl of dipping sauce. (no broth)
posted by mary8nne at 3:25 AM on July 22, 2009

Best answer: I agree with armage that what you had was a dish that was particular to this restaurant. I googled "Kyoto Karakuri Restaurant" in Japanese and got this page, which says that the restaurant you went to is a ramen place that specialized in hot (spicy) tsukemen, which is a kind of ramen where you dip the noodles into the sauce, like you describe. Ramen, tsukemen, boku ikemen!
posted by misozaki at 3:33 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Were these brown buckwheat noodles? Thickness of spaghetti? What you describe sounds like a generic Japanese/Korean way to eat soba noodles, with raw vegetables and a light sauce, served cold. It's possible if the noodles were slender (like angel hair) (which I guess it wasn't), you might have had Korean naengmyeon, which is usually with a cold broth but sometimes without.
posted by Busoni at 4:26 AM on July 22, 2009

Also if the sauce/paste was a reddish, spicy sauce, it might have been chogochujang, which has a sriracha-like taste and consistency. (The fact that it was spicy suggests it was a Korean or Korean-Japanese fusion dish, or so I would guess.)
posted by Busoni at 4:29 AM on July 22, 2009

If the noodles were brown (wheat) and eaten at a Japanese restaurant, mary8anne is right: they are soba w/ typical dipping sauce.

If the noodles were white and eaten at a Chinese establishment, they are known as dan dan noodles.
posted by chalbe at 6:22 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Stupid me, didn't read that it was in Kyoto--possibly a Japanese restaurant serving a derivative of dan dan noodles?
posted by chalbe at 6:23 AM on July 22, 2009

Response by poster: Wow, I wake up to find the answer. Thanks all!

We used to go to the restaurant every couple of months but one day we went and it was no longer there (even after double-checking we were on the right alley/sidestreet).

Hopefully this will also help us in replicating the sauce. It may be similar to bibin naengmyeon sauce, but the Korean cold noodles I've had have been much sweeter than the karakuri sauce.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:31 AM on July 22, 2009

They make this at a local place by me. I love it! One of the best things on their menu. I always thought it was called cold noodles.... Thx Mefi!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:37 AM on July 22, 2009

Incidentally, for anyone curious about the provenance of tsukemen and how it's related to its cousin, ramen, it was originally "discovered" in 1955 by Kazuo Yamagishi, the proprietor of a now-famous ramen restaurant in Ikebukuro, Tōkyō, Taishōken. Leftover noodles and a small bowl of soup and soy sauce were served separately as a meal for the staff where Yamagishi worked as a teenager, and when he became manager of his own branch he thought it would sell well on the regular menu. He originally called it "morisoba" (piled-up noodles) but the name "tsukemen" seems to have come about in the early 1970s. Now most ramen restaurants serve tsukemen as well, especially during the summer, and some serve nothing else.
posted by armage at 7:58 PM on July 22, 2009

Just for later reference for people reading this, Korean bibim naeng myeon and mul naeng myeon use the same noodles, but here's how it works.

냉+면 = naeng + myeon = cold + noodles. That is: naengmyeon.

There are two basic kinds of 냉면 (with many variations, of course).

물 냉면 = mul ('mool') + naeng + myeon = water + cold + noodles (cold buckwheat noodles in a cool broth, as described by some people above).

비빔 냉면 = bibim ('beebeem') + naeng + myeon = mixed + cold + noodles (same noodles, with spicy red-pepper-based sauce and fine-sliced veggies and stuff, that you mix together in the bowl).

The later is the closest analogue in Korea to what the OP is describing, but there is no dipping involved.

See my post here for more info on how the food words work. Many common Korean dishes use the same terms over and over again, so learning a few of the common ones can get you a long way to knowing what you're actually going to get when you order something!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:08 PM on July 22, 2009

Also, if you're not getting your 냉면 in a big brass or stainless steel bowl, they're not doing it right.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:09 PM on July 22, 2009

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