There is nothing more refreshing in the dog day’s of summer than a cold bowl of naengmyeon. Actually there is – having a cold bowl of naengmyeon in the middle of winter!
I have been on the hunt for a decent bow of cold noodles for years. I have only come across enough establishments that I can count with only one hand! All the other restaurants that display signs saying they have “naengmyeon available” or “specialize in naengmyeon” are just twisting the truth a bit.
So when a TV commercial came on for Shinpo Naengmyeon, I had to check it out. The restaurant is located in a former establishment that must have had some sort of Caribbean theme. You can see the remnants of on the top of the photo. I have been in this place a couple of years ago, but I don’t recall it being a naengmyeon place. The old place used to be a huge place, however, the new owner has partitioned off the floor space. The restaurant now occupies the right hand side and on the left what appears to be some sort of dance floor.
But I digress. When you enter the place, don’t be surprised since you will not find Korean wait staff. In fact, all the waiters are hispanic guys all wearing gray Shinpo polo shirt with the name of the restaurant emblazed on the back. One guy had a lengthly hair weave that sort of reminded you of that alien character from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film “the Predator”.
The service was quick and the bowl of naengmyeon arrived within 5 minutes. Now the appearance of the noodles and the color of the broth is a dead giveaway when it comes to authenticity. Did they make the broth out of beef or did they just use instant powder? Is the noodle made of potato starch or buckwheat? The buckwheat is slightly light purplish like soba but a bit thinner. Noodles made with potato are not clear but slightly grey. And when the waiter asks you whether you want the noodles cut, always say “NO”.
Don’t expect banchan at these places. Only thing they have for you are a small plate of white radish kimchi. Instead of tea or water, a small kettle of warm beef broth is offered as drinks. The toppings were the standard fare – half cooked egg, slice of pear, few pieces of white radish kimchi, 2 slices of pyeonyuk (beef cooked in boiling water and presented thinly sliced). However, this one had 2 slivers of hot chili pepper and cucumbers.
The broth itself did not taste like it had any MSG. It was not sweet. It was not bitter. It was just sort of neutral. It could have been the combination of the watered down beef broth and white radish kimchi liquid. Even after putting vinegar and mustard, it lacked some punch. The noodle was okay but I like mine al dante and this was slightly chewy. But at $9.95 it is at the low end of the price range in this part of NJ. This dish in Palisades Park or Fort Lee would normally fetch $12.95. Bibim naengmyeon is $10.95 and whoe (raw fish) naengmyeon is $12.95. Cliffside Park now has about half a dozen Korean restaurants along the Anderson Avenue and is less than 5 minute drive from those towns. So do venture out.
606 Anderson Avenue
Cliffside Park, NJ 07010
Tel: (201) 840-0001
Hours: Monday – Sunday 11AM-?PM
Free parking by the alley, however it slopes like 45 degrees downhill!
My Finicky Rating (1-5, 5 being the best):
Naengmyeon broth (yook soo) – 3
Naengmyeon noodle (sari) – 4