Along with temples, ancient Buddhas, and funny-shaped boulders, Mt. Namsan (남산) has also been blessed with a fair number of kalguksu (칼국수) restaurants. If you’ve not tried it before, Kalguksu is a hot and hearty noodle soup; perfect after a hike. Kalguksu literally means “knife noodles” as the noodles are cut by hand and quite thick. Kalguksu has a mild savory flavor, but it comes with a side jar of soy sauce with green onions and chilies which you add to your liking (I’d suggest starting with just a dolop or two to see how you like it). It’s served without meat, so it’s vegetarian friendly (though I can’t vouch for the broth).
I’ve not tried all the Kalguksu restaurants around Namsan, but there are two that I can definitely recommend. Just down the road from Seochulji Pond (서출지), on the east side of the mountain, is an unassuming little place called Chilbulam Shiktang (칠불암 식당). It may not look like much, but the kalguksu here is killer. It’s pajeon (파전), or pancakes with green onion and squid, is worth writing home about too. Both dishes go excellently with a bowel of dong-dong ju (동동주), or rice wine. I usually try to grab a table out front with nice view across the rice paddies.
On the opposite side of the mountain, just a five minute walk down from the parking lot for Samneunggol (삼릉골) or “Three Tombs Valley” is another great kalguksu joint: Samneung Gohyang Kalguksu (삼릉고향칼국수). Samneung Kalguksu is fair bit larger than Chilbulam Shiktang and has a dozen or table on the patio out front. Their kalguksu and pajeon are excellent as well, enough so that the restaurant was featured on an MBC TV show in 2004. Their dotorimuk (도토리묵), or acorn tofu, is great too.
If you’re out for an afternoon of hiking on Namsan this summer, Chilbulam Shiktang and Samneung Kalguksu are great places to relax and enjoy dinner in the cool of the evening. Both are located 5 minutes from the two biggest parking lots and trails heads for Mt. Namsan, so they’re not out of the way either.
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