I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Choco bing soo September 28, 2007

Filed under: bakeries, cafes, & fro-yo — Raven @ 10:23 pm
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There can be no doubt about it: chocolate bing soo (초코빙수) is the ultimate flavor (and I don’t say that just because I’m female). My previous fave was the green tea version, but after last Sunday’s trip to Ice Kiss where we got the chocolate, I’m a convert.

Ordinarily I probably wouldn’t have ordered the chocolate, considering it a little too untraditional (not that I think there’s really anything traditional about the stuff that gets added to bing soo, not at this point). But on Sunday I just had a taste for it, and apparently so did Bon V., so we gave it a shot. The verdict was that it’s a winner.

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Ice Kiss’s choco bing soo includes a sprinkling of Count Chocula cereal (this is what I mean about nothing traditional).

They also serve their medium size in an honest-to-goodness dog bowl. We knew this before we went, so we made sure to order that size. Despite how huge the serving looks (and it is quite huge), and despite having filled up on KBBQ beforehand, we managed to eat every ounce of our choco bing soo, which p1010095.JPGwas awesomely delicious. Well, okay, we left some of the ice at the bottom. I’ve never been a fan of things like snow cones, but when it’s bing soo, you can eat all the yummy goodness off the top along with some of the ice, and then you can just leave the rest of the ice in the bowl (for the dog, I presume). This wouldn’t work so well with some other Asian shaved ice desserts, where I gather the ice goes on top instead of on the bottom. I’ll stick with the Korean version.

The thing about bing soo is that, unlike plain ordinary ice cream, it’s lighter (because of the shaved ice to ice cream ratio), and it has fruit, which allows eaters to pretend bing soo is good for you. You’re also liable to find almost anything in it (witness the Count Chocula). It’s more interesting than ice cream, and it probably is better for you. Well, okay, it might not be. But it does have fruit!

Here’s what was left of our choco bing soo when we were done: basically chocolate syrup (used on the chocolate version instead of condensed milk) and melting ice.

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Ice Kiss
3407 W. 6th Street
(about half a block east of Kenmore)
Los Angeles, CA 90020

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Charcoal in the Park September 25, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 11:27 pm
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charcoal.JPGPark’s is another charcoal KBBQ (see the pic for proof!). However, I have to say I barely noticed the charcoal (although I probably smelled like it when I left). The grill concealed it from view, and the charcoal didn’t remind us it was there by shooting up huge flames. And I didn’t really register the smoky flavor, if there was one.

My favorite meat was this one:

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I’ve conveniently forgotten exactly what we ordered, so I can’t really say which meat that was. All I know is it was the tastiest, partly because it was thicker than the others, so it held more flavor. Some of the others were sliced too thin, I felt, particularly the tongue, which I prevailed on the table to order (some people had never tried it before, but it didn’t take too much prevailing). I’m a big fan of tongue, but you have to be able to actually taste it, which you can’t when it’s in thin little slices. p1010085.JPGSo the meat passes in my book, but it wasn’t what really stood out.

What really stood out was the panchan, which were among the best I’ve ever had. They included some little eggy pancakes (hard to go wrong with pancakes), a cold mashed squash salad (yum!), some greens with crumbled tofu, and many other delicious items. We also ordered pa jeon (green onion pancakes) for the table. I love those, and they didn’t disappoint. They were just the right amount of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.p1010089.JPG

Overall, I felt the panchan and the service were outstanding, the meat was fine but I wouldn’t need to write home about it, and I recommend the pa jeon.

Park’s has a lot, but I don’t think any of us parked in it. Street parking is relatively easy to come by, and if you go on a Sunday morning like we did, you won’t have to pay the meters.

Park’s BBQ
955 S. Vermont Ave
(just north of Olympic)
Los Angeles, CA 90006

P.S. I’ve been made aware that Park’s charges extra for their kimchee, which I didn’t notice at the time. So be warned.

 

D-War September 21, 2007

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 2:03 pm
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This film, supposedly the most expensive in Korean history, is… a stinker. Okay, that’s totally hearsay on my part, since I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m now thinking I’ll wait for DVD. Nobody seems to have anything good to say about the film, although I have to admit the destruction of downtown LA is something I wouldn’t mind seeing on the big screen.

Korean film critic Kim Bong-sok said, “They want it to be successful in the U.S. because it’s Korean, not because it’s good,” and called the film “immature and poorly made.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Well, I was rooting for it too, also because it’s Korean, but I can’t root for something that isn’t any good. The story sounded iffy and confusing from the beginning, but I still had high hopes. My hopes are now on hold until I manage to see it, either in the theater or on DVD.

P.S. I thought Rain was supposed to be in it. Maybe its quality is why he backed out?

P.P.S I realize I’m saying a lot of bad things about a movie I haven’t seen. For the record, I would love to be able to come back and retract everything after I do see it.

 

Korean Festival September 16, 2007

Filed under: Koreatown & K-town events and shopping — Raven @ 10:06 pm
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I’m a bit late to this party considering today was the last day of the Korean Festival and I just found out about it. Sigh. It was held at Seoul International Park Sept. 13-16 here in LA. Apparently it’s an annual event held around the time of the Korean harvest festival, or Chu-sok, which occurs on the 15th day of the eighth month by the lunar calendar (don’t ask me to do the math). So I guess there’s hope for me next year.

The festival is in its 34th year, and last year it boasted 350,000 attendees over its four days. It showcases the awesomely diverse Korean community in LA. Go Koreans! The website is here.

I’m incredibly embarrassed that I just found out about it now. Lemme go slink into my corner and hide my face.

 

Shopping for hanbok September 12, 2007

Filed under: hanbok — Raven @ 9:25 am
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For those who don’t know, hanbok (한복) is the Korean traditional costume, which women still wear occasionally, particularly for special occasions such as a funeral or their daughter’s engagement party (please note my knowledge of when hanbok is worn comes chiefly from watching kdramas). Recently I had the chance to visit a shop that sells hanbok in LA. It’s located on Eighth St. across from Dong Il Jang.

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Of course, I knew there had to be places you could buy hanbok here, and I think there are actually quite a few shops that sell it, but this was the first time I’d noticed one. The shop wasn’t large, but it was brightly lit and showed off the various dresses nicely. I noticed mostly bright colors, didn’t see anything one would wear to a funeral. I admit I didn’t root through the racks in a big way, but everything I saw was stylish (er, if you can call something that’s centuries old stylish) and beautiful. There were some interesting color combinations, bright pinks paired with bright yellows, etc. You can see some of the shop’s offerings in the picture to the right.hanbok5.jpg

I was asked not to take pictures inside the shop, or rather I explained to the shopkeeper in English that I wanted to take pictures and blog about her shop, and she explained to me in Korean that she would rather I didn’t take any pictures. Yes, we understood each other. Don’t ask me how. Let’s just say I’m good at context clues and gestures are a godsend.

We weren’t the only customers in the shop. In addition to us, there was a bored young man who was there with a young woman who was trying on hanbok. I forget what colors she had chosen, but I know why she was there: I heard something in Korean about an engagement. He got away with taking pics of her on his camera phone. Maybe if I hadn’t asked for permission I would’ve had better luck picture-wise. No, then I probably would have gotten in trouble. Oh, well.

Now if only I could find an excuse to wear hanbok myself sometime…

P.S. I guess the place is called Kim Mi Hee’s Hanbok Shop, or at least I’m assuming 고전방 might translate as “hanbok shop” or “place to buy traditional clothes” or something like that. Like I said, it’s at 8th & Hobart across from Dong Il Jang (okay, I didn’t say it was at Hobart, but it is).

 

Cold noodles in hot weather September 6, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 8:05 pm
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I know, I seem to be on a cold noodle kick. Tuesday (thankfully the last day of the dreadful heat) I hit up Town Noodle at the Koreatown Plaza. Granted, it’s probably not the most inventive or interesting place I could have gone for my naeng myun, but the plaza does have covered parking and AC, two definite pluses. Also, it can be a little weird to walk into a restaurant alone, and I don’t generally do it, but at a mall food court nobody necessarily expects you to be accompanied.

I’d been watching to see who put Asian pears in their mul naeng myun, since I couldn’t remember anybody doing it at any of the places where I’ve had mul naeng myun before. Well, Town Noodle does it (although I could have sworn they were radishes, but I’m fairly sure they were actually Asian pears). But the weird thing is I’m now wondering if I might have had pears in my mul naeng myun before and just forgotten about them or somehow not noticed them. I mean, they’re supposed to go in, aren’t they?

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So anyway. The noodles at Town Noodle were a little darker in color and chewier in texture than I’m used to. I’m not sure if that means they were pure buckwheat flour, pure sweet potato flour, or some combo of the two. The beef slices were also a little thicker than I’m used to. Now I’m wondering if these are individual variations, regional variations, or…?

If you’re in the K-town Plaza and you want noodles, Town Noodle certainly has a wide variety of them. I don’t believe their kal guksu comes highly recommended (I think this was the place where a friend of mine got a huge bowl of it that looked tasty but didn’t really taste tasty), but they did fine with the mul naeng myun.

 

Koreatown Weather Forecast September 2, 2007

The weekend weather forecast for Koreatown, as for all of LA, is: really frickin’ HOT. Sweltering, even. I think today, at 98, is the worst of it (I hope so!). Today after lunch, having no desire to go back to our AC-deficient apartments, a friend and I headed over to the Koreatown Plaza to enjoy the cool indoors. Granted, it wasn’t all that cool. I have a feeling that since folks in LA so rarely need to use their air conditioning, they don’t end up with powerful units like you’d have in, say, Phoenix. As a result, the only place where we really felt cool was the frozen food section at the plaza market. However, it was better than being in a building with no AC at all.

Here’s how the folks at the K-town Plaza were dealing with the heat. The Olive Bakery, located on the lowest level next to the market, was having a special on pot bing soo, and they were being taken up on it big-time. I think a lot of people were doing exactly what my friend and I were doing: gracing the mall with their presence in order to beat the heat. The mall was more crowded than I’ve seen it before. The coffee shop, like the bakery, was doing a lively business in pot bing soo. And cold noodles seemed to be a highly popular item. I exerted my will power and didn’t actually buy anything, although the green tea ice cream was tempting.

I have to say, although this heat really sucks, the vendors at the plaza are probably happy about it.

P.S. I didn’t take any photos. It’s hard to take photos of heat. Sorry.