I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

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?

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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.

Kimbap:

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

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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

 

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

 

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.

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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 떡만두, the dduk mandu (I can’t for the life of me remember whether there was a 국/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.

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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:

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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