Say good-bye to hunger pangs at Korea's Geumgang Makguksu

Photos by ChiHon Kim
Photos by ChiHon Kim

Say good-bye to hunger pangs at Korea's Geumgang Makguksu

by ChiHon Kim
Stripes Korea

As anyone who has ever spent a few hours swimming will know, the hunger pangs experienced after can be intense! To appease my hunger, I headed to the closest restaurant serving up dak galbi, or spicy stir-fried chicken that is a must-eat local dish in the Gapyeong and Chuncheon area.

Based on a quick search, my phone led me to the Gapyeong’s famous Seorak Makguksu Chuncheon Dakgalbi restaurant. Much like the diving pool won’t allow solo divers, Seorak Makguksu Chuncheon Dakgalbi also doesn’t serve solo diners like me. The reason is that for their dishes, the staff heats up a tabletop grill, which is a lot of work for only one person and one entrée. You can, instead, opt to take out some of their famous chicken, but it is a two-order minimum.

I was disappointed that I would have to remove the mouth-watering dak galbi I had put on my wish list for this trip. But, to make up for it, I headed to try a different local specialty – makguksu, or buckwheat noodles. This is a specialty of Gangwon Province, which Gapyeong shares a border with.

For this dish, I drove about 20 minutes from the K-26 to Geumgang Makguksu, a restaurant housed in a traditional home which serves as a good example of northeastern Korea’s early architectural style. Tucked away on a country town road and surrounded by mountains, the restaurant’s courtyard is enclosed to keep out the winter chill.

Many dak galbi restaurants also have makguksu on their menu, but normally the star of the show in their eateries is the spicy stir-fried chicken. Geumgang Makguksu’s focus, on the other hand, is firmly on the buckwheat noodles.

I ordered makguksu and buckwheat pancakes (Korean Memil Jeon), both for 7,000 won each (or about $6.08). Before my order arrived, I was served a bowl of hot beef broth which soothed my empty stomach and warmed my body.

A sign on the wall demonstrated a “delicious way to eat makguksu” involving adding vinegar, mustard and shredded radish to the cold chicken broth. I decided to follow the gentle suggestion of the sign when my meal arrived. Makguksu has always been a favorite of mine and this eatery’s offering did not disappoint.

In addition, the homemade kimchi that came with my order wasn’t overpowering or too salty. The buckwheat pancake had a light taste and an unforgettable mugwort scent. I recommend you pair the pancake with makgeolli, if you have a designated driver.


Address: 23, Eumdong-gil, Seorak-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do
Phone: 031-584-8387 (KOR only) 
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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