Three years ago, I took my first bite of rich, broth swollen, chewy noodles at a mat-jib in Gimpo. Tonight, we got to go back for a second time with our friend who’d introduced that mat-jib the first time round.
A brisk five-minute walk heading straight from Exit 4 of Line 5, Station Song-Cheong- Yeok 송정역, will have you standing on the corner, in front of this Kal-guk-su 칼국수 mat-jib. Kalguksu – “Knife Cut Noodles” – is a hot, rich and comforting dish that will see you leaving the restaurant patting your stomach and smiling contentedly.
We ordered the mushroom noodles at 7,000 won per person and the pot was brought forth. The broth (99.4% sure it’s chicken based, but I didn’t take note of it; Bobby said it’s their secret recipe so we don’t have to know) is first boiled with brown clam shell mushrooms, carrot, garlic stems, potato and a mix of chilies, garlic and gochujang. Just as the pot starts spitting, the ahjumma strolls over, whips off the lid and dumps in the noodles. Said noodles are freshly made from a low-gluten wheat flour with a 5:1 water and saline solution mix that gives a noticeable flavour and creates a delectable chewy texture.
Bowls of kimchi are given to each person alongside their food bowl. The kimchi is absolutely covered in raw garlic and a really thick sauce, which is more paste like. I like to dip this into the soup to lighten the hit to the mouth of eating it alone.This is a win-win. It takes the soup to a whole new level and doesn’t offset the gag reflex that unfortunately happens when eating raw garlic. Why.. WHY?! I just want to occasionally eat raw garlic.
The broth reduces and, combined with the excess flour from the dusted noodles, thickens into a stew. This is the part where the thick slices of potato become extra creamy, sweet and soft, try to get as many of those into your bowl without anyone noticing. By now it’s nearing the bottom of the pot. It’s time to commit to spending an extra 1,000 won ($1) on the optional rice. The lower the food goes in the pot, the tastier it becomes. Remaining noodles and vegetables are taken from the pot and placed in a bowl. The fire is cranked back up and in goes the rice, loaded with finely diced vegetables, seaweed, sesame oil and an egg. It was creamy, salty, sweet and brings it up to mat-jib level for me. An absolutely delicious ending.
The address: Seoul Tuk-Byeol Shi, Gang-So-Gu, Gong Hang Dong 73-8 Telephone (Korean): 02-2664-9748
주소: 서울특별시 강서구 공항동 73-8 전화번호:02-2664-9748
If you’re flying out of Gimpo or in the area, test it out. The first few bites might not do it for you, but then as it thickens, it becomes addictive.
Happy eating – Chan and Bob