I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

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.

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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.

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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
http://www.haejangchon.com

 

Good Eats, Good Meats January 18, 2008

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 7:00 pm
Tags: ,

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:

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

 

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:

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And here’s the after photo:

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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

 

The kblog visits Maryland October 4, 2007

So, for those of you who didn’t know (which is probably most of you), I’m currently in MD for my dongseng‘s wedding. I’ve got a lot of folks to see here and lots of stuff to do, so I’m spending a full two weeks. But naturally I can’t go two whole weeks without Korean food. I mean, seriously, after that long I start getting withdrawal symptoms.

So the natural solution was to look for a Korean restaurant within reasonable driving distance. Mind you, this wasn’t the first time I’d looked for one with no luck. But this time I found not one but two, both in the same shopping center! The one I picked was called Gah Rham, and I picked it for a very simple reason: it had a menu online for me to look at before I left LA, so by the time I got there I had already decided what my friend and I were going to order.Gah Rham has a sushi lunch buffet (they offer Japanese food as well as Korean), but we went for KBBQ. I think we were about the only people in the place eating anything but the buffet. There were also more non-Koreans than Koreans when we got there, although by the time we left the non-Korean lunch crowd had thinned and there were more Koreans in the place. That felt homier to me. 🙂

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We ordered the traditional kalbi and bulgogi, both good choices since I was introducing my friend to Korean food for the very first time (she loved it). Both were marinated. The bulgogi was thicker than I’ve sometimes had, and in general the pieces of meat seemed to be cut bigger than I’m used to in LA. But the quality was excellent, and so was the taste. The meat was extremely tender. Unlike many KBBQ joints in LA, this place automatically provided lettuce leaves for wrapping the meat. And apparently the rice wrapper craze hasn’t made it across the country, or at any rate Gah Rham hasn’t joined it.

In addition to our BBQ, we also ordered a seafood pa jeon, which turned out to be huge. It was a little crispier than I’m used to, but very tasty. I enjoyed everything we ordered, although I have to say we ended up with a huge amount of food. There was lots of meat and then the hugp1010102.JPGe pancake, and of course we’d been filling up on panchan as well (the panchan were pretty standard, but good: kimchee, bean sprouts, seaweed, pickled radish, a couple other things). With the barbecue also came the egg casserole that I love and a bowl of soondubu. And at the end we each got small bowls of miso soup. So yeah, HUGE lunch.
In addition to the delicious food, our server took excellent care of us (maybe she was pleased because we were the only folks eating Korean food instead of sushi). If anyone happens to be in the Maryland suburbs of DC with a sudden craving for Korean food, I recommend Gah Rham.

Gah Rham
5027 Garrett Ave.
(off Route 1 between Odell and Powder Mill)
Beltsville, MD 20705

 

Charcoal in the Park September 25, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 11:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

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.

 

Dong Il Jang August 17, 2007

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 5:32 pm
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I love KBBQ places that give you a cool rice drink after the meal. It’s the crowning touch, sweet and refreshing in just the right way. Dong Il Jang does that. But that’s not all they do.

p1010012.jpgI forget what cut of meat roast gui is in English. I know it’s not as tender as kalbi. However, at Dong Il Jang it was still quite tasty (just not as melt-in-your-mouth tasty). Even the bits that got a little too charred were tasty (our grill was ornery; maybe it was annoyed that I was adding meat instead of letting the waitress do all the work). So the meat was good. And the panchan were good. In addition to the standard kimchee, bean sprouts, and radish kimchee, they included a cabbage and mayonnaise salad (I’m a sucker for mayonnaise salads, fattening though they are), some yummy seaweed in oil, and some chopped potatoes served warm in a vaguely sweet sauce. Those were my favorite. After the meat, we were each served a bowl of chicken broth with a few radishes in it. And I’m always a fan of chicken broth. But still, none of the things I mentioned above (not even the rice drink at the very end of the meal) are the main thing Dong Il Jang has going for it.

The main thing is the fried rice.

dij-rice.jpgDong Il Jang is one of those places where they come around after you’re done and make fried rice on the grill in all the meat drippings. It was kimchee fried rice, and the waitress also added in some fresh meat (not left over from our meal) and what was left of our radish kimchee. Luckily I didn’t let her add the Korean hot sauce, because I’m sure that would have made the fried rice inedible (for me). It had a kick as it was, from the kimchee, but guess what (and this is a huge admission from Miss Non-Spicy here)? I thought it was really really good, spices or not. I ate three rice bowls of the stuff. Dong Il Jang is definitely on my list of places to go back to, if only for the rice (the pic is of our fried rice in preparation, with an inset of the finished rice).

On the logistical side, they have a parking lot, and the waitstaff speaks comparatively good English. They also have a small koi pond inside, and I think they have private rooms in the back.

Dong Il Jang
3455 West 8th Street
(at Hobart, about 3 blocks east of Western)
Los Angeles, CA 90005

 

Kdramas come to life… August 12, 2007

Filed under: guest blogs,restaurants — Raven @ 1:34 pm
Tags: , ,

I got to be a guest blogger on Bon V.’s blog again this past week. This time I review the Korean BBQ restaurant Suhrabal. Check it out here.

By the way, if anyone is interested in being a guest blogger on here, let me know. I’m totally open to the idea.