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

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