I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Mr. Pizza Factory February 19, 2010

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 4:10 pm
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I can’t remember exactly when I went to this place, but I do remember that we ordered a half-and-half pizza. Half Potato Gold, which I’d heard lots of good things about, and half bulgogi, just because there was no way we could go to a Korean pizza place and not try bulgogi as a topping.

Here’s the result:

I wish I’d turned the pizza around before I took this picture, because this way you get an eyeful of the bulgogi half, which was really only okay. The bulgogi wasn’t as flavorful as I’d hoped. It didn’t taste like getting KBBQ on your pizza. The Potato Gold half, on the other hand, was pretty good, but you can’t see it as well. It had bacon, potatoes, mayonnaise, and other tasty stuff.

I admit it sounds a little weird. I’m a fan of bacon on my pizza, but I’d never had mayonnaise before. I don’t think I’ve ever had potatoes on my pizza before either, and to be honest, I can’t really recall what I thought of them. But it didn’t taste like your everyday American pizza.

Now we get to the best part. The crust stuffed with sweet potato mousse was amazing. That crust doesn’t come standard on the bulgogi pizza, so to get it we had to pay as much as if we were buying a whole Potato Gold. I was okay with that. I’d been dying to try the sweet potato crust ever since I heard about it. It lived up to the hype.

I’m told Mr. Pizza Factory has a paid lot, but I found street parking.

Mr Pizza Factory
3881 Wilshire Blvd
(about two blocks west of Western)
Los Angeles, CA 90010


Omelet + Rice = Omurice January 5, 2009

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 8:27 pm
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Omurice is an incredibly simple dish, just a layer of beaten egg cooked and wrapped around rice, veggies, and spam. Pour some ketchup on top and you’re done. Like bibimbap, it falls into the category of Korean dishes I imagine I could successfully recreate at home. It’s total comfort food. Egg, carbs, ketchup… Does it get better than that?


The place where I generally order it is also a very simple place. It’s almost like sitting in someone’s kitchen. The place is called Spoon & Chopsticks, and it’s located on 6th a block or so east of Chapman Plaza in the same strip mall as Ice Kiss and Ham Ji Park, a place Young recommended (which I tried ages ago but haven’t blogged about yet, just so you know, Young).

The food at Spoon & Chopsticks, like the ambiance, is very basic. Besides omurice they have various kinds of fried rice, noodles, some simple meats, kimbap, dumplings and probably a few things I’m forgetting. You don’t go here for a gourmet meal. You do go if you need a cheap and filling bite to eat. You can get their punch card and eventually earn a free meal. They also deliver.



Dumplings and some panchan (the kimbap also made it into the picture again):


The staff is friendly (it helps to speak Korean). They’re not open on Sunday. Parking is street or the valet lot behind the strip mall. The panchan seem to vary from day to day, so if there’s one you particularly like (or dislike) don’t expect it to necessarily be offered next time.

Spoon & Chopsticks
(cross-streets: Kenmore/Catalina)
3417 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90189


Jja Jang Myun April 22, 2008

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 1:02 am
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I promised to write about this last week, so I’m a little behind schedule, but here is my long-awaited post about jja jang myun (짜μž₯λ©΄). For my first taste of this Korean Chinese dish, I went to Jin Heung Gak, known in English as Mandarin House, which was recommended by reader SKFK (sorry, Young, you recommended Dragon, but SKFK got in ahead of you). Since I was meeting a friend for lunch, we chose to go to the main location at 8th & Berendo so she’d have an easier drive back to work afterward. Actually, we did this two weeks in a row. I told you I found these noodles addictive!

Jin Heung Gak is a popular place. Both times we managed to get a table without a wait, but the place was definitely hoppin’. The noodles themselves were delicious, not to mention cheap. For about $6 you get the monstrous portion below.

The plate you can see on the side is the kimchee plate. On both visits we went through two plates of kimchee. Here are the noodles after mixing:

I swear they give you 8 oz. of noodles, if not more. The noodles are cooked just right, and there’s an abundance of onions and veggies in the black bean sauce. On the side, in addition to the kimchee, you get a plate of onions and yummy crunchy pickled yellow things (radishes?).

I’d been warned to wear something dark because the sauce will splatter, and it definitely does. On our repeat visit my friend and I noticed we had both wisely chosen to wear brown!

JJM is great comfort food (read: it’s mostly carbs). I’m told it’s what Korean girls eat on Valentine’s Day if they don’t have boyfriends to go out with.

My only complaint about Jin Heung Gak is that as soon as they see you’re not Korean, they automatically assume you want a fork. On the first visit, when there were actually three of us, one Korean and two non-Koreans, we were given three sets of chopsticks and two forks. On the second visit, when we didn’t have a Korean in the party, we were given two forks and no chopsticks. I was forced to ask for chopsticks in my broken, poorly accented Korean. Okay, if I had asked in English I’m sure they would have understood me, but I figured it was a good time to use Korean and play with the assumptions they had made about me based on how I look. πŸ™‚

I actually find the fork issue rather amusing. However, please note the offending silverware does not appear in either photo above.

On the first visit we also ordered water dumplings, which were okay, but I figure from now on I’ll just stick with the JJM. Given the portion size, it’s not like you really need anything extra. The servers can be a little flighty since the place is so busy, so it’s a good idea to know how to call them in Korean. The shopping center where Jin Heung Gak is located has a small parking lot, not sure if it’s valet or not, but both times I found street parking on Berendo.

Jin Heung Gak/Mandarin House
3074 W 8th St
(cross-street: Berendo)
Los Angeles, CA 90005


Coming Soon: Jja Jang Myun April 9, 2008

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 3:08 pm

I can’t seem to get my act together to post this review, but I recently tried jja jang myun at one of the places recommended, and I’ll be posting about it soon. I seriously think I could eat JJM every day with no problem. Well, except obesity. πŸ™‚


Heart-y KBBQ February 25, 2008

I meant to post this on Valentine’s Day, honestly I did. It’s not actually the KBBQ that’s heart-y, it’s the rice done on the grill afterward (so delicious). Here’s the pic.


This is from Hae Jang Chon (also known as “that pig place in the strip mall on 6th,” because apparently many people can’t remember its name – including me; I had to look it up). I liked Hae Jang Chon, although on a repeat visit our server didn’t form the rice into a heart. But he was cool and let us sit and chat forever.

I particularly liked the beef brisket at Hae Jang Chon. I was also interested in the fact that they use radish to clean the grill. They dump a bunch of radish on, push it around with the scraper, then when they scrape it off the grease comes with it. Ingenious. Never seen that before.


Hae Jang Chon’s all-you-can-eat option includes AYCE meat, two soups (one before the meal, one after), lettuce salad, panchan (not as varied as some places, but they compensate by providing more dipping sauces for the meat than some), kimchee pancakes (yum), and fried rice done on the grill at the end (less meat and more seaweed than some, but delicious). It’s reasonably priced at about $16. They’ve got a parking lot, but it’s valet at night, so be expecting that if you go. During the day it’s also valet, but I zipped into a spot on my own before I got to the valet station, and nobody stopped me.

Hae Jang Chon
3821 W. 6th Street
(cross-street: Serrano, IIRC)
Los Angeles, CA 90020


K-town Galleria Companion Post: Bibimbap at the Galleria February 11, 2008

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 11:01 pm
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There’s a particular place in the Koreatown Galleria food court that specializes in bibimbap with a huge number of vegetables (17? 21? I forgot). I also forgot the name of the place (I’m doing well, aren’t I?), or rather I forgot to write down the name of it (yup, doing well). It’s located in the southwest corner, on the south wall. I think. Unless my sense of direction was off. Anyway, yes, I’ve been very imprecise. If anybody remembers the name of the place, please comment and tell me. πŸ™‚ EDIT: Thanks to reader SKFK, who very kindly checked on this for me, I now know that the name of the place is Yangji Express.

This was the first time I had tried non-dolsot bibimbap (a.k.a. bibimbap sans stone pot). Below is the complete ensemble. In the metal bowl you see the bibim part of the bibimbap, beside it is the bap part (the rice), and there’s a small dish of hot sauce. I used only a minimal amount of hot sauce when I combined everything, enough to get some flavor without getting too much spice.


Non-dolsot bibimbap is probably the only Korean dish I could successfully recreate at home (the seaweed soup I tried to make for my birthday didn’t come out too well; it helps if you buy the right kind of seaweed). After all, you basically just take some vegetables and a soft-boiled egg, add rice and hot sauce, and you’re done. This particular place in the Galleria uses some non-traditional vegetables (I think corn was in there), but maybe they have to because they’re trying to get their veggie count as high as possible so they can advertise their impossibly high veggie count. It was good. It’s hard to go wrong with veggies, rice, and an egg. Plus no one tried to tell me I couldn’t have what I wanted, the way they do at certain bibimbap places in certain other Koreatown malls very close to the Galleria (for details go here). Of course, the fact that my lunch companion ordered in Korean may have helped.

P.S. To the person who found my blog yesterday by searching for the fat content in bibimbap, I imagine it depends on what you get in the bibimbap. Stick with veggies, rice, and hot sauce, and you’re probably doing pretty well. Add kalbi and, well, probably not so well. If you’re concerned about cholesterol, ask them to leave off the egg (although it won’t taste as good without it). Happy feasting on bibimbap!


Good Eats, Good Meats January 18, 2008

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 7:00 pm
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It feels like ages since I’ve blogged about a restaurant. Okay, it was only six posts ago, but still. And honestly, although there is no limit to the number of times I can enjoy KBBQ, I’m starting to feel there might be a limit to the number of times I can post photos of meat on a grill before they all start looking the same. But anyway, here goes.

Today’s restaurant is Yi Ssi Hwa Ro, located in Chapman Plaza. Before I went to this restaurant I’d never actually been inside Chapman Plaza, and in fact I wasn’t really sure where the entrance was (it’s off Kenmore). Chapman Plaza is strange. It feels like walking into a fortress (or driving, if you use their valet). But inside the thick walls of the fortress, instead of finding knights jousting, peasants working, geese a-laying, lords a-leaping, and ladies dancing, you find an array of Korean restaurants and businesses. Yi Ssi Hwa Ro is located in the northwest corner. It’s a fairly big restaurant, and as far as I could tell the servers seemed to speak pretty good English, although I didn’t interact with them much because the Koreans in our party did the ordering (in Korean).

We got the $15.99 all-you-can-eat option, and I was impressed with the quality of the meat. In fact, that’s what I remember the most. I pretty much forgot what the panchan were like or what else we ordered, although I do remember the kimchee pancake (yum!). But I went to this restaurant the day after I went to Soot Bul Gui Rim 1, and I’d recommend this one over SBGR 1 anytime. In a big way. Yi Ssi Hwa Ro’s meat was impressively tender and flavorful, a much better bargain for the same price.

Here’s the obligatory photo of meat on a grill:


Yi Ssi Hwa Ro
3465 W 6th St
(inside Chapman Plaza; cross-street: Kenmore)
Los Angeles, CA 90020


Where Do Rice Wrappers Come From? December 27, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 2:30 pm

I honestly never thought about where the rice wrappers for KBBQ come from. Turns out somebody has to cut them to size (I still have no idea who makes them). Thank goodness I’m not the one cutting them, because they would be sure to turn out crooked and all different shapes. I can’t cut a straight line or make uniform sets of anything to save my life. Luckily the person working at the station below didn’t have that problem (judging by the wrappers we used, at least).


I got this photo at Soot Bul Gui Rim 1, the one on 6th. I have to say, I liked SBGR 2 (the Vermont one) better. I thought the quality of the meat was higher. At SBGR 1 the heart ended up tough, and I don’t remember it being that way at 2. However, SBGR 1 has the distinction of being the first KBBQ place where I’ve ordered chicken. Although it takes longer to cook than the other meats, here it grilled up nice and tender. Below is the chicken before:


And here’s the chicken after. It got a little blackened, as you can see, but the taste was there.


My verdict: If you want to try a Soot Bul Gui Rim, go to the Vermont one, which I blogged about here. They’re both all-you-can-eat for the same price. The ambiance at 1 may be slightly more upscale than at 2 (I said slightly), but I preferred the meat at 2 (although I can’t speak for the chicken at 2, which I didn’t order, and I do have to admit the chicken was good at 1).

Folks are probably shocked that I’ve finally updated this blog. And some of you are probably wondering what happened to the DARI Awards. I honestly didn’t realize it had been two weeks since my last post, and the DARI Awards are coming soon, I promise.

Soot Bul Gui Rim 1
3977 W 6th St
(6th & Western)
Los Angeles, CA 90020


Jeon Ju: Repeat Visit December 1, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 6:54 pm
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On this visit to Jeon Ju I learned that they stay open late. A couple friends and I arranged to go there after a movie at the film festival, and on the way I started wondering if this place was actually going to be open at 8:30-9:00 at night. But it was.

I also realized that they have some really good panchan, particularly a fish dish (prominently displayed in the photo below). Oddly, I don’t remember this dish from my first visit at all, although I remembered the silky tofu, visible in the upper left (impossible to eat with chopsticks). I may have skipped the fish the first time, expecting it to be spicy, which it’s not.


I didn’t order a bibimbap. After all, I got that last time, and I’d been wanting to go back and try something else. So this time I went with λ–‘λ§Œλ‘, the dduk mandu (I can’t for the life of me remember whether there was a κ΅­/guk on the end of that or not; I’m thinking there’s supposed to be, but I don’t think there was). This is a rice cake and dumpling soup, beautifully warm and comforting.


It’s hard to go wrong with anything dumpling. The inventor of the dumpling, whoever he or she may have been, is my foodie hero.


Tongue in Jeep October 29, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 6:33 pm
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So I broke down and went to the KBBQ for non-K people, Soot Bull Jeep. It was only to try the tongue, I swear! In most respects I think Park’s beats Soot Bull Jeep (although some readers may not agree with me): better service, awesome panchan, cleaner, prices about comparable or maybe a little less. Plus Soot Bull Jeep charges extra for their panchan! Can you imagine?

But let’s move on to the things Soot Bull Jeep does right. They have a parking lot, and it’s free and non-valet, two things I like. No, the list doesn’t end there. Their tongue is better than Park’s. The reason is it’s cut thicker. If you cut it too thin, it just won’t be tasty, as I remarked when I blogged about Park’s. Here’s the tongue before:


And here’s the after photo:


The tongue is good with Soot Bull Jeep’s green onion salad, which rocks. I tried the tongue with the lettuce wraps, but the lettuce tended to overwhelm it. I mean, even thick tongue still isn’t thick enough to compete with all that lettuce. The lettuce is better with the kalbi, which we also ordered. The panchan (which we paid extra for!!!) were only so-so. I think they were left over from yesterday or something.

Soot Bull Jeep
3136 W 8th St
(just west of Catalina)
Los Angeles, CA 90005