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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What Does Traditional North Korean Food Taste Like? K-Town

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- We're here in Seoul, South Korea,

and we are trying a North Korean restaurant,

which is so exciting to me.

We're gonna talk to Chef Yoon,

who actually fled North Korea and came here,

and eventually opened this restaurant.

He knows how to cook North Korean cuisine,

he was a chef in North Korea, in Pyeongyang,

and he's gonna prepare one of the most famous of

North Korean dishes, which is Pyeongyang Naengmyeon.

So I'm gonna see how he makes these cold noodles,

what is so unique about them, and what's unique

about North Korean food as a whole,

what are the differences between

North Korean and South Korean cuisine.

How did you become a chef?

Tell me a little bit about somuchim, and why is it special?

I wanna try this beef dish,

this is good.

This is just great, I mean, so interesting.

The vinegar is super, you know,

super acidic, but it's perfectly balanced.

You get this, you know this, boiled beef right,

it's possibly the least sexy way to eat beef,

and for some reason it really works with this dish,

'cause it's sort of a meal-ier,

I mean it's tender enough, it's certainly not tough,

and you contrast that with crunchy, pickled, celery,

you got cucumber, and chiles.

It's a nice, fresh, like bright dish.

Naengmyeon is a classic, cold, Korean noodle dish,

it's made generally with buckwheat noodles,

and the broth is usually sort of a beef broth.

This particular style is so unique because

of how kind of sparse it is,

it's not really adorned, I mean there's some

garnish here, there's just like one piece of beef,

and just this huge pile of buckwheat noodles.

Pickled daikon radish, maybe a little bit of,

like a sliver of Asian pear,

they do give you some vinegar and mustard on the side,

but I'm gonna taste the broth first,

and see if I even need to add additional seasoning.

This sort of subtle beefiness, and that's really it,

you know you get kind of the,

the flavor of the buckwheat, the grain,

I added a little bit of the vinegar and mustard.

Even though it's the dead of winter,

these cold noodles are still pretty refreshing.

If you focus on having really fresh noodles,

and really crisp, clean broth,

you don't need much else.

It's such a barebones

version of the dish,

that I'm, it's almost stunning to see the contrast

between this and a naengmyeon you would see elsewhere.

(laughter)

So this dish, eobokjaengban is,

a sort of this kind of big, shareable, platter.

Nice pieces of beef chuck,

they're kind of sitting on the bottom,

you know you got some aromatics, green onion,

incredible, never seen this.

Oh, damn.

It's consomme-like, but has so much more beefy flavor.

And I think all those flavors,

you know the aromatics and the

other ingredients in here, amplify that.

I think it hasn't left my mind,

like what a privilege it is to be able to have

something so luxurious and so grand,

for us to have it here in Seoul.

Okay, just had some of this beef.

Nice, tender, good, really intense.

Like in other parts of the world,

you know the more North you go,

you have a less variety of ingredients.

This is still Korean food,

they've made the use of Korean cooking techniques,

this is a different approach.

It's just hard to ask these questions.

It's uncomfortable because, I mean how do I ask him,

oh you know you were the one that got out,

and you're here now,

and get details about how he

how he's here,

and he's able to do something that is truly, truly unique.

Food is political.

This food especially is loaded with so much,

so much meaning.

So, yeah.

People talk so much about North Korea

as some sort of, either a farce,

or some sort of crazy, political entity,

totalitarian society, and all those may or may not be true,

but I'm here to think about the food, the culture, you know.

This is the only gateway that I have left.

It's interesting, I remember when my grandfather was alive,

I would ask him, you know like,

what was life like in North Korea?

You know, what, what was life like in Pyeongyang,

you know in the 1930s, the 1940s?

He didn't have much to say, not a lot of color,

it was very sparse.

He wasn't the kind of person that would yabber on,

blabber like me,

but he loved his family, he loved me,

he was a devoted guy,

and there was something so solid about that,

and I think this food kinda reminds me of that,

you know there's something very solid here,

there's something that's true to it's people.

I wanna understand it more,

this is all I have, this is the only lens that I can

see into my family history.

Thanks so much for watching, and if you want to see more

of my dining adventures in K-Town, click right here.

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