When warm weather hits - and it was in the 80's here in Texas today - so does my craving for mul naeng myun (물냉면). I decided to try a Korean restaurant that somehow looked promising, and I'm very glad I did.
Shortly after ordering, the manager brought over a delicious amuse-gueule of ever-so-lightly breaded fried fish slices... a delightful portent of what was to come.
The naeng myun was excellent, although one might argue that it's a little hard to screw up. Still, quality fresh ingredients always make a difference, and this naeng myun was as good as any I've ever had. Fine buckwheat noodles in an ice-cold beef broth, with slices of beef, cucumber, daikon radish, and half a hard-boiled egg. Add a bit of mustard and a dash of vinegar and you have hot weather nirvana.
But what was really extraordinary here was the array of banchan. I don't think I've ever had such good banchan anywhere (okay, I've never been to Korea). Every Korean restaurant worth its salt makes all their banchan in-house, and this is most definitely no exception. The cabbage kimchi (top right) was among the tastiest I've had - full, well-rounded flavor, rather than the overly vinegary kimchi one so often gets. The sliced fish cake (top left) was almost light and palpably fresh. The almost-standard potato salad was creamy and - once again - almost light. A sort of seaweed salad (inside 11 o'clock) was delightful, as was the dish above it, pea pods pickled with hot red pepper - a new one to me, and one I'd like to have again very soon.
Prices are reasonable, although if specific numbers are important to you, you might double-check prices with your waiter. The menu I was handed listed the price of mul naeng myun as $4.00 (!)... when they brought out that beautiful spread you see above, I was prepared to pronounce this just about the greatest food bargain I'd ever found. But when the check came, the price was a closer-to-normal $8.95.
Since this place does call itself a BBQ, I should probably mention that the barbecue at the other tables looked fine, if not life-changing. But in order to be life-changing, they would have to have wood embers over which to do the barbecuing, which they do not.
Gui-Rock Korean BBQ (구이락)
2625 Old Denton Rd., Carrollton, TX 75007