Even though the Dolsot Bibimbap is my favourite dish at Kim Chi House, on one of the hottest days of summer, I just can’t bring myself to eat food served out of a crackling hot stone bowl. I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to try the Cold Noodles (Bi Bim Naeng Myeon) – #14 on the menu ($7.95). Yesterday was the perfect day to try it as I was craving something cool and refreshing. The Bi Bim Naeng Myeon consists of thin noodles topped with raw julienned cucumber, Korean radish, half a hard-boiled egg, and pieces of chilled beef.
Naeng Myeon, which means cold noodles, is the Korean answer to Japanese soba. Like soba, some naeng myeon are made from buckwheat. Naeng Myeon can also be made from other starches as well such as potato, sweet potato, or arrowroot. The naeng myeon noodles have an interesting texture. They are very bouncy and chewy to the point of almost resisting chewing or cutting with your teeth. There are two common ways to serve the naeng myeon noodles. Mul Naeng Myeon is served with the noodles submersed in an icy cold watery soup. Bi Bim Naeng Myeon is served without much broth but instead with a spicy sauce made primarily from gochujang (red chili paste).
At Kim Chi House, only Bi Bim Naeng Myeon is available. I was really impressed with their interpretation of this dish. The chilled beef pieces were tender and flavourful. The julienned cucumber and Korean radish slices provided cruchiness to contrast the bouncy and chewy texture of the noodles. The dish was served with a squeeze bottle of gochujang. Interestingly, this squeeze bottle of gochujang is different from the one served with the Dolsot Bibimbap. The owner made it a point to let me know when he brought our order to the table as my coworker had ordered the Dolsot Bibimbap. He brought out separate squeeze bottles of gochujang for us. When I tasted a bit of the sauce from the squeeze bottle for the Dolsot Bibimbap, I could definitely taste the difference. The gochujang for the Bi Bim Naeng Myeon was spicier, sweeter, and had a brighter flavour. The one for the Dolsot Bibimbap seemed to have a slightly more savoury flavour.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Bi Bim Naeng Myeon. In some aspects, this dish is quite similar to the Dolsot Bibimbap as the ingredients for the toppings are almost the same in both. Yet in other aspects, they are diametrically opposite. The Dolsot Bibimbap is probably one of the hottest dishes, temperature-wise, on the menu while the Bi Bim Naeng Myeon is one of the coolest. For me, during the summer months, the Bi Bim Naeng Myeon will likely be my dish of choice as it is so cool and refreshing. And I will revert back to the Dolsot Bibimbap as the weather cools down.
Kim Chi House
303 Centre Street SW