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I-mok-ri Mak-guk-su (noodle restaurant)

buckwheat noodles, black tofu, and ice-cold fermented (semi-'carbonated'?!) radish broth: a summer lunch in Sokcho
"Mak-guk-su' are hearty Korean buckwheat noodles--the rustic cousins of Japanese 'soba' across the sea...The port city of Sokcho is famous for its seafood, but just a few miles inland, in the village district of I-mok-ri, cold and spicy 'mak-guk-su' is the famous summertime lunch of champions, served with black tofu and 'dong-chi-mi.' Hmm...for the uninitiated, that name is hard enough to get over, and the description might seem scary; trying is believing, though, when it comes to seemingly 'bizarre' food.

So, dongchimi is part cold soup, part beverage, part condiment, always served ice-cold. It's a slice of daikon radish that's been pickled in a briny mixture of green onion, Asian pear, ginger and green chili pepper. The crunchy disk floats in its clear sweet/salty liquid, which, due to the pickling process, is slightly carbonated! A pickled radish soda of sorts...I know it might sound radical, but on this humid summer day (Korea experiences monsoon rains)--one of the most refreshing 'beverages' I had in Korea!

The chewy buckwheat noodles are garnished with thin slices of beef, vegetables, red pepper paste, a boiled egg, crushed sesame seeds, and shredded dried and toasted seaweed. (You're given spicy mustard to add at will.) The black tofu slices are a mild counterpoint--and then the dongchimi washes it all down. Or you can order maekju (beer) or soju, a Korean 'vodka.'

The easiest way to get here: print out the map from the website and hand it to a taxi-driver.

Cheoksanyangjimal-gil, Nohak-dong, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea