Showing posts with label korea town. Show all posts
Showing posts with label korea town. Show all posts

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Taste of Korea: Gala Dinner, Fashion, and Dance Show

I recently had the privilege of attending "A Taste of Korea" gala dinner in celebration of the Korean Chuseok holiday (Korean thanksgiving, kind of) and the launch of Cathlyn's Korean Kitchen show on PBS (earlier this year I was one of the judges for their Top Chef Korean Food Challenge). The dinner was part of the Korean government effort to promote Korean food and culture in the US.

Held at a hotel in Koreatown, we had a lavish spread of traditional Korean food, some of which I wasn't very familiar with - like this vibrant "roll" of vegetables wrapped in squid!

A whole tray of marinated pork belly served with spicy noodles and lettuce wrap ...
Pork Belly

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ondal 2: Spicy Rib and Crab Soup Heaven

Ondal 2 is well known for their kkot gae tang a.k.a. Spicy Korean Crab Soup, a bubbling pot of crabs, vegetables, and sprouts in a spicy broth.
Once you're seated, they will have you wear a red apron (ok, bib). Things are going to get messy.

The banchan spread is pretty impressive here.
Besides the usual suspects, you'd also get a whole fried mackerel ...
... and a whole spicy crab.

Their soups aren't cheap - a medium order may run you $55, though it will feed 3 people. There were six of us so we got two medium orders of different soup.

Here's the Spicy Crab Soup (menu item #2).
Your server will empty the contents of the crab shells onto your bowls and fill the shells with white rice, continuing cook them in the pot.
Alternate between slurping spicy, crab-flavored broth and bean sprouts and cracking crab legs. That's bliss.

When you're done with your crab meat and rice, you're not done yet! Next they tear off some dough into the still boiling pot.

The other item the waitress had recommended was the spicy beef rib stew, mae-oon sohgalbi jjim (I think this was #12?), which turned out to be even better than the crab soup!
The soup is actually more flavorful than the crab soup, and filled with ribs so tender they wonderfully give way upon your first bite.
While the crab soup was good, it was this that stole our hearts. I'd definitely return for this rib stew.

No pasta here, but they will instead use the remaining broth for some fried rice! Always one of my favorite part of a Korean meal ... It's that concentrated broth that's absorbed by the rice, it's that crisped rice at the edge of the pot.

Some shikhae (rice drink) to cleanse our palates. I always like shikhae, I sometimes wish I can just order a whole glass.

If you have never tried korean spicy crab soup (kkot gae tang), Ondal 2 is definitely worth going to for that, but it's the spicy rib stew that I'll be returning again and again for.

Ondal 2
4566 W Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90016
(323) 933-3228
Ondal 2 on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Feng Mao: Mutton, Cumin, Fire.

Feng Mao had been on my to-try list ever since I read about their mutton kebab in cumin galore on FoodGPS and LA Weekly.

Feng Mao is labeled as a Korean-Chinese cuisine, is located in K-town with Korean signage and menu, but the owner Jing Cu Hwa and her husband are actually from China. They hail from Jilin province in Northern China, which borders Korea and explains the heavy Korean influence (technically it also borders Russia, too).

The full name of the restaurant is Feng Mao Mutton Kebab, so obviously we have to get the mutton kebabs.
The meat is covered with spices, including chili powder and cumin. This is a Northern Chinese dish after all, so you can actually find similar lamb kebabs at various Mongolian style hot pot places, like Happy Sheep, but those don't hold a candle to Feng Mao's tender and succulent mutton skewers. For one thing, mutton > lamb!

Just like any other Korean restaurants, they serve pretty typical banchans here, but it also included a typical Chinese one: boiled peanuts!
We love our boiled peanuts.

We also ordered the beef skewers, and while they're also pretty good, the mutton was much better as they were more tender and had a stronger flavor.

An order of quail will get you a whole butterflied quail.
All the skewers are grill-it-yourself on the charcoal grill they provide on each table (though they'll come by and check to see if you're messing up :P).

There's one more thing to note before you eat your grilled skewers. The heap of cumin-dominated spice on that little plate next to each one of you.
Oh, you know what to do ...

Feng Mao also has a list of cooked dishes, though I didn't try any, along with skewers of mutton kidney and bull penis. Yes, that's right. The adventurous might want those. For me that night, though, although I at first wanted to try the other skewers like beef and quail and enjoyed them, I mainly kept thinking: "man, those mutton kebabs were good. I should've just gotten more mutton kebabs."

Feng Mao
3901 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 935-1099
Feng Mao on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ham Ji Park: Drown Me in Pork Neck Stew

My first time having the gam ja tang (pork neck stew) at Ham Ji Park got me hooked. I kept craving it for so long. Then one day I saw a gift certificate for the place! (PS. has a 70% off promotion through 2/21 with code: ENJOY.)

I somehow managed to move my night out with the Cybernetics boys away from our usual Barro's. Even if they were 45 minutes late. I was holding the table drinking a whole pitcher of barley tea while people were waiting in line, and on top of that I used a $25 gift certificate. Ham Ji Park must hate me now.

There's a grill on the table but looks like they don't really use it anymore. They covered ours with the banchan (my faves: marinated potato, bean sprouts, cucumber - the non spicy stuff, you know).

My first and main order of business: Pork Neck Stew (Gam Ja Tang) - $15
This is also the dish that puts Ham Ji Park on the map. The stew of pork neck and potato is served in a stone pot and is big enough to feed two or three people. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and the broth packs a lot of the gochujang flavor. Serve this over a bowl of rice and I'm good.

You can also order some marinated pork ribs ($16.99) which are sweet and tender. You don't grill the ribs yourselves but instead they're served on a sizzling plate.
Ham Ji Park serves a solid and satisfying meal, especially for the pork lovers. If you're not so much into pork, I also recommend the spicy squid with noodles.

After the gc, including tax and tips we each paid up $9. Sweet.

Ham Ji Park
3407 W 6th St Ste 101-C
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 365-8773
Ham Ji Park on Urbanspoon
Ham Ji Park in Los Angeles

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Soon Tofu SmackDown: BST vs SKD (Yes, Again)

Aye, it's the old time question: which is better, Beverly Soon Tofu or So Kong Dong? Well, I finally made my way to SKD and so now I have to try and figure this out.

1. First, the location and parking. BST has valet parking for a nominal fee, while SKD has free, probably easier parking. Location-wise they're pretty much the same: Right across the street from each other, in a strip mall, and both right below a billiards/pool place (why??)

2. The ambiance. BST wins hands down here. SKD is clean and bright, but is your typical joint and sterile. BST's unique wooden furnitures really add to the ambiance.

3. OK, now on to the food. The banchan. I have to say BST wins here again. SKD does have spicy raw crab, but I can't eat spicy anyway . The bean sprouts here were a bit musty. The only item I liked was the fish cakes. BST on the other hand has that amazing cold tofu, and their bean sprouts are also much better.4. SKD does not have combos like BST does. If you want bulgogi, you'd have to order it separately for $12.99. They also don't have kalbi, but they do offer either beef or pork bulgogi.
The mushrooms in the bulgogi added a nice flavor and the meat was lean and good.

5. The rice. SKD serves your rice in the hot earthenware pot - this means they'll add water to what's left in the bowl later for you to cool down your palate with! I always enjoyed having that at BCD Tofu House but Beverly never does it. Upon trying SKD's rice though I have to say, it was amazing! Never thought I'd say this - but this rice was really really good. It was firm yet had a nice stickiness. SKD wins rice hands down.
6. The soondubu itself. Now this may be due to the fact that "mild" at SKD is not as spicy as "mild" as BST and so I was able to enjoy the whole bowl without that slight pang of pain. It might be due to the fact that I had a cold when I was at SKD, and seriously, soon tofu tasted soooo good. At any rate, upon this first visit, I really, really liked SKD's soondubu.
I ordered the beef soondubu. I thought the quality of the meat was great (although BST gives more meat). The seaweed they put in added a nice flavor. The tofu was also good, and you're eating all this with that amazing rice too.

At the end, you cleanse your palate with the cool rice+water (what do they call this anyway?)
I will be going to Beverly Soon Tofu to compare once more, but I definitely left So Kong Dong a very happy camper. It was the perfect meal for this cold.

So Kong Dong
2716 W Olympic Blvd
Ste 104
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 380-3737

So Kong Dong on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 3, 2008

24/7 Comfort Food

This was one of those late nights, with class ending at 9 pm on Mondays. Since half of LA closes on Mondays and half closes at 10 pm, 24/7 places like BCD Tofu House are lifesavers.
Although they have many branches, the Wilshire one is the most popular and I can only assume that there's a reason for it.

This late at night there's usually a short wait for a table - about 10 minutes. As with most Korean places, they bring out small plates of banchan. Kimchi, bean sprouts, and fish cakes are common fares, but BCS gets extra points for their fried corvina - whole small fish for each patron.In addition to soon tofu they also serve kalbi, bulgogi, bibimbap, all of which you can get as a combo with a smaller portion of soon tofu. I got the beef soon tofu- mild, of course, since I can't eat spicy.
Not really comparable to Beverly tofu, for one. The one here is rather ... bland, in comparison. They also give less tofu and meat, and of lower quality. But it's not bad. It's still comforting and filling. At 10 o'clock at night, it's very satisfying. I used to love BCD but not that I've gotten spoiled by Beverly it's harder to come back here unless the other one is already closed.

The kalbi is tender and flavorful.
The meat is sometimes a bit fatty, but overall a tasty dish.

Another thing that BCD Tofu gains extra points at is this: Their rice is served in a stone pot, and then they scoop out the slightly burnt rice from the edges and serve it with water.
This make a nice, soothing rice 'soup' that is just soo right after all that spiciness from the soon tofu.
BCD Tofu House will always remain on my radar, since it's really quite often I find myself looking for food late at night! 24-hour places hold a very special place in my heart :)

BCD Tofu House
3575 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 382-6677

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mini Bar Hop in K Town

Somewhat recently I had the good fortune of meeting Mattatouille and friends, who then introduced me to Tai, the owner of Scoops.

I will leave our conversation with Tai for another post. What I wanted to blog about today is what happened after :) Mattatouille's friend (don't want to put her real name here, especially when I may misspell it :P ) suggested we go bar-food hopping in K-town. Being a non-Korean-speaker or reader, this was untested waters for me, and I like these new people I just met, so I took them up on it!

First Stop:
3317 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005 (213) 487-9110

This place a complete Korean dive. Well, not that I would know. But with the dark interior, smoky haze from the bbq in the middle, and old movie posters, it sure seemed like it to me.

The menu is completely in Korean, so I wasn't sure what we ordered. All I know is that we got these spicy kalbi which were delicious, and were #52 on the menu! Don't know what it's called, but it's #52 my friends!
Not that spicy, and extremely addicting.

We also got some scallion pancakes (pa jeon? I tried googling it).
Somewhat thick, with tons of scallions, and a nice crispy exterior!

This segment, with some Hite beer, was ~$10/person total.
I wanted some more ribs, but we gotta move on to the next one!

Dan Sungsa on Urbanspoon

On to stop #2: The Hite Bar
Hite Kwang-Jang
3839 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010 (213) 384-7999
In direct contrast to the previous place, this place looks like a little western cafe you might find in Asia, probably selling spaghetti. It might've even been called Bear House. But no, it's actually Hite cafe (supposedly used to be Hite factory) serving up (in addition to some western style dishes) blood sausages, and - what we came there for - chicken wings in sweet & spicy korean sauce.I think this was called "yang nyum chicken" ? Not completely sure ...
This was ... spicy! The sauce was deliciously sweet and sticky but also spicy, spicier than the kal bi from dansungsa. I was having trouble eating this and ended up gobbling tons of the marinated turnips.

Oh, and drinking a lot of Hite.

They had a dark, light, and "special" Hite which is just a mix of the two. Sounded interesting enough, so we went with a pitcher of that.

Not much difference than the regular Hite - still light.

We also got some scallion pancake here, which was served there for free. Thinner and crispier than the previous one, which in a way is better, but I did like the fact that the previous one was more loaded with scallions!
I had to stop here for the night, unfortunately. I had a great time and hopefully will get another chance to hang out with these people! I'll be training to eat spicy food beforehand ...
Young-Dong Hite Rounge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Search of Good Jajangmyeon

After a series of late-night K-drama marathons last year - which, for my own academic career, probably shouldn't happen too often - I started having intermittent cravings for jajangmyun, a.k.a. black bean noodles. Not to be confused with the chinese black bean noodles or cha jiang mien. The korean one originated from the chinese black bean noodles, but is now quite different.

I went to place that had really good jajangmyun before but I had forgotten the name and haven't been able to find it again! :( All I know is that the place was K-style chinese food, open 24 hours, in a strip mall where they also have a hopping nightclub of sorts ... Anyone has any idea?

So in an attempt to find another good place, I went to try Mandarin House, which had pretty good jajangmyun reviews. They had the regular jajangmyun, with no meat, and they also had a meat sauce jajangmyun. I wanted some meat, so that's what I ordered. My friend who was there does not like to eat meat (except for kalbi, which she would eat a lot of :> ) ordered the regular.

Here's the meat jajangmyun:
It seemed to me that the regular one that my friend got had more sauce and the sauce was thicker and blacker ... in other words, it looked better to me. Still, my jajangmyun was really pretty good, although I did want more sauce on it! Since the sauce is so good!

So while the jajangmyun here is pretty good, it's still not perfect in my opinion. I'm still looking for one with great sauce and lots of it, and with substantial amount of meat, too! If anyone has any recommendation, please do let me know!

Mandarin House
3074 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 386-8976

Mandarin House on Urbanspoon

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