North Korean have a very unique restaurant style, they are normally a restaurant opened by their own country, and the staffs and the manager of the restaurant are being paid by they country to work and manage the overseas restaurant. In most of country, normally they’ll have one or at most two North Korean restaurant. The other thing about a North Korean restaurant is, either they sell a delicious food or not, most of their staff will behave the same, they will recommend you with the most expensive food and expensive drink and told you that it is the best food among all other menu. Don’t get fooled though~! Because the most expensive thing in the menu don’t always taste the best. I’ve tried several North Korean restaurant in Thailand and Vietnam, and the one I’ve had in Hanoi is the best North Korean restaurant I’ve had up to date.
The name of the restaurant is 평양관 (Pyeongyang Gwan), which literally means Pyeongyang Restaurant. A name stated clearly that they sell food related to North Korean. The address located at 28 Nguyen Thi Dinh, Trung Hoa, Cau Giay, Hanoi, Vietnam. The restaurant located right beside a big karaoke club (judging from the karaoke club billboard, it should be a ‘plus plus’ karaoke). So it will be really easy to spot it during night time.
The restaurant opens everyday starting from 8 AM – 11 PM, since the restaurant didn’t mention whether they closed or not during public holidays. I bet it’ll be a good idea and safer to make a call if you want to go down there during public holidays, just in case you came down for nothing. And if you’re interested in learning more about North Korean music or traditional dance, you might want to came by on 7.30 PM because there’s a live show starting from 7.30 PM everyday and the show duration is around 1 hour more or less. The music can be a little bit loud, so if you prefer a peaceful dining experience, then you might want to come by before or after the show time.
If you’re a first timer for North Korean food, what I can say is some of their dishes actually didn’t differ so much from some South Korean traditional food, taking to consideration that they were actually one country during old dynasty times. The food which tastes slightly different from the South Korean food, and really worth a try to try out is their Cold Noodle (Pyongyang Naengmyeon), Dumplings (Mandu), and their Kimchi.
From the outside their Kimchi might not look too different from the one you might normally have in South Korea or what you find in the Korean market in your country. But once you take a bite on the kimchi they served in Pyongyang Restaurant here, you’ll immediately fall in love with the kimchi. They taste slightly less sour, slightly a little bit more spicy and they are crunchy. Yes, you can hear the ‘crunch’ sound when you chew it inside your mouth. (Please note the kimchi in the north korean restaurant in bangkok didn’t taste good, this one is the one I’ve had in Hanoi.) And you can just basically eat the kimchi with any dishes served in front of you, because the taste really blends well with any main dishes you have.
Next one is dumpling! I was planning to just have their cold noodle, with the kimchi, when I suddenly remembered that my friend told me that pyongyang cold noodle is the best when you eat it with their dumplings, so I’ve ordered a portion of dumplings too. YEAH~! Compare to the South Korean version, their dumpling is bigger in size and rich in fillings, but what I really adore the most if even though their skin dumpling is slightly thicker compare to those South Korean style, the North Korean dumpling taste softer and better. They also have a richer filling compare to South Korean’s dumpling, but what make the fillings taste is even better is not only they have thicker filling, it even tastes richer. It taste salty and when you take the first bite, but then it’ll gradually turn into a slightly spicy tastes when you take the next bite, which is really unique and yummy~! And what’s more, this dumpling really taste super good when you have it together with the cold noodle~!
And the main menu of the day is finally here~! It doesn’t look too different from South Korea version, so why should we try the North Korea version? Here’s the answer, first of all, the spiciness level is far more appropriate to have compare to South Korea one, it’s spicy, but doesn’t make you feel too spicy after eating a few bites. Next is the texture of the noodle, the noodle is chewier (it could be hard to cut with your teeth, but no worries they always prepare a scissor to cut your cold noodle into pieces before you start to munching it up) and what’s best the noodle is tinier and smoother. You’ll definitely feel satisfied.
After the dishes, just like any other Korean restaurant they will normally serve you with a light dessert, whether it’s a fruit, or a cup of traditional Korean beverages. And if you’re watching the show, the ladies could even go down to your table to serve you drinks, with a proper manner of course. So if you haven’t been to one, you really should try to a North Korean Restaurant out.
I love to travel and eat!! I'm a freelance Korean English Chinese Bahasa Indonesia interpreter, who love to blog and write. I worked in a plastic surgery hospital in Korea for 5 years before pursuing my interpreting and writing jobs. My previous blog on plastic surgery (which has been permanently closed down T-T) has been published in a book.