Heading down to Seongbuk-ro (or “the big street at the bottom of the hill” as we call it), I happened across Moomyung Restaurant (무명식당), which I’d passed without noticing often before. When I peered in, a woman eating gave me a thumbs-up and waved for me to go in, so I did. She spoke English, and quickly told me that the food was very good. So, Moomyung it was.
I ordered the first thing on the menu on the wall, the 무명 밥상 moomyung babsang, which their website describes as “Moomyang main dish of boiled rice”. Maybe that works in Korean, but in English they really need to work on their descriptions: it was lovely.
While I was waiting, the same woman (in blue in the photo on the left) showed me a book of Korean bandes desinee, pointing out the story of the restaurant on page 304: A Korean-American, adopted at age 4, searching for his family, but unable to remember anything except the taste of the rice that his mother made. Korean meals being served very quickly, I didn’t get to the end. Now I have to come back to find out how it ends! (I have a sneaking suspicion that he found them and they opened these restaurants.)
The main part of the dish was of course the rice, very nice rice with some other grains and beans mixed in. With that, a few side dishes: raw vegetables with dipping sauce, some meat & mushroom (that was really nice), a couple of hot dishes of (to me) unknown items in chilli sauce; a bit of soy sauce for dipping, and a warm broth with potato bits & bean sprouts (also really nice).
While I was eating, a monk came in, knocking his wooden spoon on his wooden bowl. Presumably he was looking for a free meal; I need to learn how to invite them politely to join me, lest that happen again.
Conclusion: Should become a regular feature in my neighborhood lunch circuit. Also: their website shows another branch at the GranSeoul on Jong-ro (between Jongak metro & Sejong-daero), just around the corner from A’s office…