Our two-day trip to Pohang was accompanied by locals, friends of a friend who were born and grew up in this beautiful coastal city that is now one of the leaders of steelworks industry in Korea. An actor friend who now lives and works in Seoul was originally from Guryongpo (구룡포), a small beach town in Pohang that is also famous for regional delicacy called gwamegi (과메기), or half-dried herring. His parents greeted us with such warmth as if we were their own kids and presented us a feast that fit for a king. The night in Pohang lasted as strangers become family over endless pouring of soju and karaoke-singing.
The next morning, I was led by the crew to a back alley of a small neighborhood. Apparently, this is where we will be served breakfast, or moreover some local hangover soup. Moriguksu (모리국수) was something I have never heard of before. Korea has so many different types of noodle dishes such as kalguksu, naengmyun, and makguksu. But moriguksu? I know guksu means noodles but what in the earth is mori? Sounds Japanese, I thought. And I thought correctly. A little bit of research revealed that perhaps the word mori came from the Japanese word meaning forest (森). It could also refer to having something “so many”, like so many trees in the forest. The noodle soup is made with various scraps of seafood that is available that day and mori could reflect the abundance of sea creatures used in cooking.
The seafood broth is made from scraps of monkfish or sea catfish along with other shellfish such as mussels, prawns, etc. Big portion of thick noodles that resemble kalguksu are soaked in the huge brass bowl. The soup is murky color of orange with crushed red peppers adding a spicy kick to it. With such a hearty bowl of soup, aftermath from last night slowly fades away one sip at a time.
Moriguksu is considered as peasant food mostly for fishermen and workers at the docks. The steamy, spicy soup is the best way to warm up after long hours of hard work in cold winter days. The locals would enjoy local comfort food for affordable price. At Ggaggune Moriguksu(까꾸네 모리국수), the noodle soup for four was mere 20,000 Korean won. A great way to treat hangover and a filling start to another day at the port city.