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.


Reading Korean August 21, 2007

Filed under: books & bookstores — Raven @ 11:34 am
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I admit it, I love books. Granted, I don’t read as much as I once did, and I have a shorter attention span than I did as a kid (it’s supposed to be the reverse, isn’t it?), so if I’m reading a passage that’s just not doing it for me, I tend to skip ahead, which I never used to do. This means my books now tend to be read less cover to cover and more bit by bit. But I’m still wildly attracted to bookstores. So naturally one of the first things I want to do when I start learning a new language is find a bookstore and buy some books.

My current Korean book resource is the Korean Book Center, located on the lowest level of the Koreatown Plaza near the market end and called in Korean 정음사 (I’m not sure how they get “Korean Book Center” out of that, since I don’t see 한 in there anywhere, but I admit my Korean is limited). They have a huge online presence here, but I prefer to go to the store and browse around.

The store itself is not huge. In fact, it’s quite small, but they manage to do quite a bit with the space they’ve got. You’re certainly not going to find benches where you can sit and read the books instead of buying them (I’ve never completely understood the logic behind that), but you will find a sufficient language-learning section and a large section of English/American classics in translation, which leads me to believe they probably have a good selection of Korean classics in the original, too (I can’t recognize those yet, so I can’t say). About half the store is devoted to non-fiction, which I tend to avoid since I get enough of real life in my, um, real life, but I did notice a nice section on cooking.

This store is where I bought my $40 Korean-English/English-Korean dictionary which has no transliterations and forces me to use the Korean alphabet (yay!). If you’re looking for Korean books, this store is a reasonable place to start.



The best place on earth March 12, 2007

Filed under: Koreatown & K-town events and shopping — Raven @ 1:43 am
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So I exaggerate a little now and then. But I have to say the Koreatown Plaza is my new favorite place. And to think it was pure chance that I ended up here after lunch with an out-of-town friend and some in-town friends. I will definitely be going back, I don’t know when, but I have a feeling there’s some kpop with my name on it somewhere in the record store.

For today, I scored a HUGE bowl of green tea ice cream. Okay, so it wasn’t as huge as what you get at Coldstone if you order their bigger sizes. But what I was expecting based on the size of the bowl and the price ($2.50) was a pitiful scoop like you’d get at most L.A. independent ice cream shops. But no. The man kept piling on ice cream. I’d say he gave me two large scoops. He was also the recipient of my first communication in Korean with a Korean. When I said thank you in Korean, he broke into a smile.

I also picked up a book at the bookstore. My original plan was to buy a book I’d read in English so I would already know the story as I was trying to get through it in Korean. And maybe I should have done that. I almost bought The Little Prince, which I’ve read in French (I can’t remember if I’ve read it in English), and my mom has it in Russian (I can’t remember if I’ve read that one either). I figured if I bought it in Korean we could make it a tradition: for every new language, The Little Prince. But I didn’t end up buying it. I hesitated over some classics I hadn’t read in English, much less Korean, although I sort of semi knew the stories. But finally I bought Momo, a book I’d heard of in, of all places, a Korean TV drama. So I have now purchased my first Korean book.

I was one of maybe four or five non-Koreans in the plaza, and one of them was with me. Actually I only saw one other non-Korean there besides the one with me, but I’m allowing for one or two extras who may have been lurking around unnoticed. But I didn’t feel out-of-place particularly. Well, maybe a little. But I loved it there. I’ll never pass for Korean the way I do for Russian, but that obviously isn’t stopping me from developing a love for the language and culture.

P.S. According to a site I found, the Koreatown Plaza was the only shopping center in Koreatown to be untouched by the L.A. riots (since it’s entirely enclosed). I had no idea the riots went that far north. I thought they were all down in south central… Kind of scary. It’s not all that far from me.