OWL Magazine Korea

Since 1966, Myeongdong Kalguksu Restaurant “Myeongdong Gyoja”

When it comes to Kalguksu (hand-cut noodles) in Myeongdong, the first restaurant that comes to mind is undoubtedly “Myeongdong Gyoja.”

Myeongdong Gyoja originated from “Jangsu Jang,” a hanok (traditional Korean house) converted into a Kalguksu restaurant in Sooha-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, in 1966. At that time, Myeongdong Gyoja developed its own style of Kalguksu, featuring a broth made from chicken and beef bones, with generous amounts of zucchini and spicy onions. After relocating to Myeongdong, which was the busiest commercial district in Seoul at the time, the restaurant changed its name to “Myeongdong Kalguksu.”

However, due to the proliferation of restaurants with the name “Myeongdong Kalguksu,” the brand image suffered. In 1978, the restaurant changed its name to the current “Myeongdong Gyoja.”

“Myeongdong Gyoja: The Harmony of Rich Kalguksu and Ginger Kimchi”

The flagship menu at Myeongdong Gyoja is Kalguksu and Mandu (dumplings). While there are other options available, most people who visit the restaurant seem to order Kalguksu.

The Kalguksu at Myeongdong Gyoja has a distinctive flavor compared to other places. It features a rich and hearty meat broth, seemingly brewed with an abundance of meat.

The accompanying “kimchi” is exceptional, known for its unique blend of flavors with plenty of ginger. It may seem unusual at first, especially if you’re accustomed to traditional kimchi, but it quickly becomes addictive. Even after finishing the meal and returning home, the memory of its taste lingers.

If you find yourself needing more noodles or rice during the meal, you can simply ask one of the staff members. There is no additional cost for extra servings.

“Selected by the Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand”

Myeongdong Gyoja’s unique reinterpretation of the common dish Kalguksu, along with its selection of banchan (side dishes), earned it recognition among the public. It also earned a place in the prestigious Michelin Guide as a “Bib Gourmand.”

This indicates that while the restaurant offers a unique and special experience, its taste is also exceptional, setting it apart from others.

“Fast-Food-Esque Speed and Turnover”

Myeongdong Gyoja offers an interesting element – the efficiency and speed reminiscent of fast-food establishments. After being seated and placing an order, payment is made in advance. It gives the impression that the meal arrives in less than a minute after payment.

Furthermore, they even provide candy for dessert right after payment. This also reflects the remarkable efficiency of the restaurant and offers a glimpse into Myeongdong Gyoja’s operational philosophy.

Due to its fast-food-like efficiency, the restaurant is often bustling with people. The lines tend to shorten quickly.

Given its location in Myeongdong, it’s common to encounter foreign guests, ranging from neighboring China and Japan to various other nationalities.

“A Lively, Bustling Atmosphere”

Myeongdong Gyoja exudes a lively and bustling atmosphere. The overall vibe is fast-paced and can feel somewhat chaotic. Seating arrangements may involve joining others at larger tables, giving a sense of dining in a bustling eatery reminiscent of those in Hong Kong.

While this makes it convenient for solo diners, it may not be the ideal spot for quiet gatherings or group discussions. The overall atmosphere suggests a need for a swift meal.

“Myeongdong, Seoul: Myeongdong Gyoja Main Branch”

  • Address: 29 Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Phone: 02-776-5348
  • Operating Hours: Daily 10:30 AM – 9:30 PM (Last Order at 8:30 PM)
  • Closed on Lunar New Year and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving)
  • Website: http://www.mdkj.co.kr