I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

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?


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.


Cold noodles in cold weather August 28, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 3:35 pm
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I like cold noodles in all weather, but there’s something particularly refreshing about eating them on a warm day. Well, we picked a cold day to go to Ham Hung. Hey, we didn’t know! However, that didn’t detract from the pleasure of eating the noodles.

ham-hung-small.jpgI’m a fan of cold noodles anyway, and at Ham Hung I ordered my fave, 물넁 면. The tangy broth is always refreshing, but sometimes they skimp on the sliced meat and cukes that garnish the noodles (there are always plenty of noodles, though). But Ham Hung did it just right. There was plenty of meat, plenty of cukes, and of course half a hard-boiled egg. Delicious. My only complaint would be that when they were cutting the noodles for me at the table, they didn’t cut them up enough. But maybe slurping up noodles that are way too long is just a natural part of eating cold noodles.

We also ordered a roast meat (I’m not exactly sure what we ordered, but I think it may have been L.A.-style kalbi), which was a tad late in arriving, although I was okay with that since we were busy with the noodles. When it did get to us, it was nicely marinated (not too sweet for my taste) and oh-so-tender (you can grill your own here, but we didn’t). There’s no doubt about it, Korean restaurants get the best meat.p1010075.jpg

We were the only white people in the place, but everybody at Ham Hung was very friendly and welcoming. I think it’s a popular place. There’s even a large sign across the street pointing out where the restaurant is located. There’s also a parking lot across the street, which naturally neither of us noticed until we had both found street parking.

Ham Hung
809 S. Ardmore St.
(at 8th)
Los Angeles, CA 90005


Chillin’ with cold noodles August 4, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 3:28 pm
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The Corner Place is renowned for its cold noodles. Supposedly the recipe for their broth is such a secret that you’re not even allowed to take your leftovers home (although the sign to that effect was missing), which could be a problem since the bowls are HUGE. I shared mine with one of my fellow diners (lunchers? it was lunch), which made it a reasonable-sized portion. The noodles plus very tender kalbi plus the panchan made it a good meal. I don’t think I would have wanted to have just the noodles. It would have been a little too one-note.

But let me not get ahead of myself. These cold noodles aren’t made of buckwheat. I don’t know what they’re made of, but in Korean they’re called 동치미 국수 (I think that’s right; I copied it down real fast from the menu). They’re white instead of dark. The flavor is subtle. I’m sure someone is going to tell me noodles in general don’t have much flavor, but trust me, they do. I think it’s a combination of look, texture and the actual flour they’re made of. These were subtle and had what I want to call a soft flavor. Okay, I’m reaching because they’re hard to describe, I admit it. But I liked them. Better than the buckwheat? No, I can’t say that. Just different.

One quibble I had with the noodle dish as a whole was that it was mostly noodles, and I like my cold noodles with add-ons such as hard-boiled egg and meat and cucumbers and stuff. Okay, they had a few sliced cucumbers or something similar, and there was half a sliced tomato. But the addition of at least some egg would have really made the dish for me.

The broth had the familiar slightly sweet tang I’m used to (the secret ingredient in The Corner Place’s broth is supposedly 7-Up). This broth also had a bit of a kick from the addition of jalapenos, which I could have lived without, although it wasn’t so spicy as to be inedible.

The ambiance was pleasant and the service was good. The kalbi we ordered was tasty, and as far as the panchan go, the bean sprouts were to die for. We ate about three or four dishes of them. Although the place wasn’t crowded when we arrived at 11:45 a.m., by the time we left around 1ish or so there was a wait for a table. There’s street parking and a small lot where the parking guys seem to be on a power trip and will tell you to move your car even if you’re not parked in a dedicated market or laundromat parking spot.

For the record, The Corner Place is NOT located on a corner.

The Corner Place
2819 James M. Wood Blvd
(1 block east of Vermont)
Los Angeles, CA 90006


Revenge on the bibimbap lady May 7, 2007

Filed under: cuisine,restaurants — Raven @ 2:48 am
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Dear Bibimbap Lady,

Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I want to order #1 (i.e., bibimbap for non-Koreans), especially when you’ve just heard me tell you I want to order #14.


P.S. Just wait till I can order in Korean! That’ll show you!

Well, actually I probably could order in Korean now. The problem would arise when I got a response, since I almost certainly wouldn’t understand it. I’d be fine as long as all I had to do was say “I’d like this” and then pay.

The bibimbap lady who has earned the honor of being featured on my blog runs a place called Gamja Bawi in the Koreatown Plaza food court. For those of you who have been there, it’s the one on the south wall with the biggest variety of bibimbap (some of you know this because you were there with me). I’m sure the lady means well and is concerned for my taste buds, but I don’t like being restricted to one variety of bibimbap just because I don’t happen to be Korean.

Also, her bibimbap is tasty, but when you order a kind that’s supposed to have a lot of meat in it, it would be nice if you could find the meat. Okay, so I exaggerate a little, but it really was skimpy.

The cold noodles from the place on the west wall, however, were awesome, especially on a hot day like today when we needed something refreshing.

As of today I’ve also become a fan of papingsu, specifically the variety we ordered, which was actually nokcha pingsu (I love green tea ice cream). I was also very impressed with myself because Bon V. and I were sitting at our table chatting and waiting for our order to be up, and suddenly I hear the lady behind the counter call, “녹차 빙수!” And I said to Bon V., “That’s us.” Processing time: instantaneous. Now keep in mind I hadn’t known the Korean name for what we ordered until a few minutes earlier, when I read it on the posted menu. And I thought I’d forgotten it again right away. And it wasn’t in front of me at the time. So I have no idea how I understood this. But I was very pleased. Yes, I take pleasure in small things.

In addition to a lot of good food, this trip to the K-town Plaza also yielded a script idea (actually several, but only one I remember).

And then I got home and found a tree branch had fallen on the exact spot where I parked my car last night. I’m really glad I went out today!