Chicken Soup at a North Korean Restaurant in Daegu

Being a Korean-Canadian, I was always fascinated by the topic of North Korea. Everyone has their own opinion and stereotype about the world’s most repressed county but the most interesting insights come from none other than South Koreans. Now that I live in South Korea, I am exposed to more news and stories about North Korea through South Korean media.  After more than 70 years of separation, it seems that down here in south the neighbour up north is no more than a political tool during election season. Some younger generation feel indifferent towards issues in the north and some oppose unification while others have strong opinions toward policies against North Korea.

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A bowl of North Korean chicken soup to relieve all the political tension?

My interest towards North Korea is a mix of simply curiosity towards mysterious, forbidden land and natural instinct of seeking my Korean heritage. Part of my family tree is rooted in North Korea and I am eager to find out more about the culture that seems so close and yet so far.

But as of now, instead of visiting the northern peninsula I shall settle for having a North Korean-style meal. I feel fortunate just to find an old restaurant that follows the traditions and keeps North Korean cuisine available in South Korea. Daedonggang in Daegu is a half-a-century-old historic site that started its business in 1965. The name is derived from a large river flowing across North Korea.

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A chicken gukbap (soup with rice), North Korea style

The menu includes naengmyun, a North Korean cold buckwheat noodle dish that can be found in all parts of South Korea. The giant handmade dumplings and crispy beans pancake are also popular. But what drew my attention was something that I’ve never heard of before. Onban could mean “hot tray” but here it is a warm bowl of chicken gukbap, or soup with rice inside.

The broth was surprisingly light but the flavour of chicken was definitely there. I liked the clean, a rather bland taste of the soup compared to salty and spicy broth from southern parts. It was a hearty bowl of comfort food that led me into imagining North Korean citizens sitting around at a marketplace having traditional gukbap, just like we do here in the south.

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It’s place like this that I hope will stay in business for years to come. I believe food brings people of different culture together. The Two Koreas were once together but now we are too far apart that we aren’t even familiar of each other’s daily meal. Although I wasn’t in North Korea, trying their food made me feel a step closer to achieve my dream of one day visiting the land north of 38th parallel.

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8 thoughts on “Chicken Soup at a North Korean Restaurant in Daegu

  1. Marcus January 8, 2017 / 8:19 AM

    There are quite a few places that sell chicken soup here in Gangneung. I don’t know if it’s North Korean style or not, but there is no chilli paste or powder in it. I really like it. Turkey soup with some rice thrown in is common in Newfoundland where I’m from. Especially after Thanksgiving or Christmas when people are trying to get rid of all that turkey . . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • yMoon January 10, 2017 / 5:52 PM

      Now I crave turkey soup! haha I love chicken soups especially at this time of the year. Samgyetang could be what you had, that one’s pretty common all over S.Korea 🙂

      Like

      • Marcus January 10, 2017 / 6:07 PM

        It was 닭국밥 I had. A number of restaurants have popped up and there are several in the old market. I like 삼계탕 but I rarely have it because I’m too lazy to pick it apart . . . . 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • yMoon January 11, 2017 / 11:14 PM

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard of 닭국밥. Could it be a regional thing in Gangwondo? I’m curious.. gotta try it next time I go back to east coast. Thanks for the info! 😀

        Like

      • Marcus January 12, 2017 / 6:46 AM

        Could be regional, I suppose. In some (all?) restaurants they give you a bit of chilli seasoning on the side so you can spice it up a bit. If you’re ever back in Gangneung, I’ll treat you to a bowl.

        Liked by 1 person

      • yMoon January 18, 2017 / 4:53 PM

        Sound great! Now I got to get back to Gangneung 😉

        Like

      • Marcus January 18, 2017 / 9:37 PM

        Ha ha. Any time.

        Like

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