I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Move over, Gamja Bawi July 16, 2007

I’ll be the first to admit that bibimbap without hot sauce can potentially be kind of bland. However, since I don’t eat spicy food (yes, yes, and I’m a kblogger, what can I say?), I always eat my bibimbap without hot sauce. The advantage to doing this is that you get a better chance to taste the various flavors of the vegetables and meat and that delicious crispy rice from the bottom of the stone pot (I have yet to try non-dolsot bibimbap, the kind out of a stone pot).

So yesterday we moseyed (well, okay, we drove) over to Jeon Ju, which is located on Olympic near Vermont. I initially drove into the wrong parking lot, where I chatted up a security guard (or tried to, although his English was about as good as my Korean, i.e. rudimentary) who tried to point me toward Hodori. But I finally gave up and found Jeon Ju on my own (it was in the next shopping center over). It’s a moderate-sized restaurant, nothing fancy, but you don’t go there for the ambiance. You go for the bibimbap!

Both of us ordered the kalbi dolsot bibimbap, and we also ordered a smoked fish of some sort, I forget what it was exactly. We had a hard time getting across to the server that we wanted two orders of the bibimbap in addition to the fish. I totally could’ve explained it in broken Korean, but I chickened out. Why am I so shy about this language stuff? Maybe I need to have a couple drinks to loosen up my tongue before I walk into a Korean locale. That might take care of the problem.

Anyway, back to the bibimbap. It was huge and had the works: bean sprouts, kimchee, egg on top, mushrooms, I think some other veggies, and of course the kalbi (beef), which had a delicious kind of smoky, meaty flavor (don’t anyone dare say, “duh, it’s meat”) but didn’t overpower the rest of the dish at all. I was initially a little wary of the kimchee since, as mentioned above, I don’t do spicy, but it had been cooked, so it was mild. I thought there was more meat than we got at Gamja Bawi (that’s the bibimbap place in the Koreatown Plaza food court), plus nobody tried to make us order what they thought non-Koreans should order! Always a plus! (I blogged about my Gamja Bawi experience here.)

The panchan were okay. There was some delicious silky tofu and some yummy kimchee pancakes (slightly spicy, but tolerable). Pretty much everything else was so red with spices that I figured I’d better avoid it. We also got radish soup and kelp soup. I had been craving kelp soup, so I was happy. The reason I was craving it is because it was mentioned in A Love to Kill, and that put the thought of it in my mind. It seems to come up fairly often in kdramas, maybe because it’s traditional for birthdays and birthdays come up fairly often in kdramas. So they talked about it, and I thought, Hmm, it would be nice to have some.

I didn’t try the fish that we ordered, for two reasons: (1) There was too much bibimbap (I was actually full for the rest of the day) and (2) I didn’t feel like wrestling with the bones. But I’m told it was tasty. However, if you object to having your fish arrive at your table with the head still attached, you probably don’t want to order this.

I would go back to Jeon Ju for their bibimbap and maybe to try some of the many chigae listed on their menu.

P.S. In terms of variety Gamja Bawi still comes out ahead.

Jeon Ju
2716 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles , CA 90006
(213) 383-4133


Rainy weekend in LA July 14, 2007

Filed under: kdramas — Raven @ 10:46 pm
Tags: ,

Okay, I’ve figured out why Jeong Ji Hoon calls himself Rain. Because it’s just so much fun to make puns on the name! I mean, why else could it be? Now my alias, Raven, doesn’t lend itself to puns so well. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with so far, raven lunatic, is neither flattering nor spelled correctly. But I digress.

This weekend we (and by we I mean I) are watching A Love to Kill, which stars Bi/Rain. This is the first time I’ve seen him in anything. There are some minor difficulties with the DVD version I’m watching, namely that the subs are REALLY bad (Tiger Cinema said they were average quality, but I’d say they’re poor quality) and in some of the eps the picture is on a two- or three-second delay, so you get the sound before you see the actors’ lips move, or whatever. But neither of those problems are the fault of the series.

This series is darker and also more mixed up chronologically than some I’ve watched. Granted, kdramas do tend to go dark at times, but so far I haven’t come across any other protagonists as dark as this one. Maybe that’s because I’ve mostly watched relatively lighthearted romantic dramas. In terms of chronology, I’m used to flashbacks, but this drama does some weird things with time, especially at the end of the first few episodes, and the flashbacks it uses are extensive. I think it’s working, though. I’m kind of enjoying the weird chronology and the darkness of it all. What can I say, the protag is a tortured soul. Those are the best kind.

Maybe I’m also enjoying taking a break from being lighthearted. And it helps that the protag has a strong external goal that drives the story. That’s a refreshing departure from some of the kdramas I’ve seen where there’s not really anything propelling the story.

I haven’t finished it yet, so we’ll see what I think after I find out how it ends.


Coming home July 12, 2007

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 4:59 pm
Tags: ,

One of the fun things about living in relatively close proximity to the Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles (see link to the right) is that I can skip over there for their free movies on occasion.

Today’s movie, shown for some odd reason at 3pm, was The Way Home (집으로*). If you’re looking for something blatant where evil characters learn the error of their ways and make amends in very obvious ways, this isn’t it. It was all very understated and sweet. Since the grandmother (the second most important character in the story) is mute, a lot of the film takes place without dialogue**, which I think makes it a more powerful film. I’ve noticed before that Korean filmmakers in general seem to be better at pure cinema than American filmmakers. Film being a visual medium, I say more power to the folks who can give us in a facial expression what others would take a whole conversation to express.

Anyway, The Way Home gets a recommend from me. My only complaint, which has nothing to do with the film, is that the audience at KCC always seems to leave their cell phones on, and naturally these cell phones ring throughout the film. Turn ’em off, folks. It ain’t that difficult. Maybe it’s a Korean cultural thing?

*Someday I will learn to type Korean at a reasonable speed.

**Why on earth is the spell checker trying to tell me I spelled “dialogue” wrong? Hello, that’s how it’s spelled. I’ll have none of these “dialog” innovations.


Tomato July 10, 2007

Filed under: kdramas — Raven @ 1:47 am
Tags: , , ,

I can’t recall ever having tomatoes at a Korean restaurant. However, they’re featured prominently in my latest kdrama (although most of the time they’re growing instead of being eaten). I resisted this drama for the longest time because I was irrationally prejudiced against the title. I thought, “Who calls a drama Tomato? I mean, c’mon.” However, I now see why they did it. The theme is represented by the tomato. Tomatoes are exactly what they seem. Nothing is hidden. If a tomato is green on the outside, it’s green on the inside. If it’s red on the outside, it’s red and ripe all the way through. This is absolutely NOT the case for some of the characters in the drama.

This drama also features Kim Hee Sun (last seen by me in Goodbye My Love), which I didn’t know until I started it. I really should look at the actors before I start watching. Although, on the other hand, why should I? Does it matter? What matters is the quality of their acting and of the drama as a whole.

As an amusing side note, the extras on the DVD were called Side Dishes. That’s perfect.

Okay, now I’m gonna go eat pasta with tomato sauce. Seriously, has anybody who’s reading this ever eaten tomatoes as part of Korean cuisine? Just curious.


It doesn’t rain in LA July 2, 2007

Filed under: music — Raven @ 11:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Bi/Rain’s concert in LA on Saturday got canceled because the producers messed up, or something like that. According to rumor (this rumor was found at soompi.com), at the last minute he wasn’t going to be allowed to use the equipment he’d brought along from Korea, and supposedly the show couldn’t go on without the effects it provided. I think there’s actually something else going on behind the scenes. In any case, it was very bad luck for the folks who flew in from Asia for this concert (and for everybody else who had tickets and was looking forward to it). Rain wasn’t even allowed to go on stage to say hello to his fans. 😦

There’s an article about it here. The same article says we have about 200,000 Koreans in LA. I understand we’ve got the largest concentration outside of Korea.

They should have warned Rain not to get his hopes up. It doesn’t rain much in LA, especially in the summer.