Jae Bu Do – Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The Astronomer and I couldn’t escape the smell of grilled seafood the morning after our banquet at Koreatown’s Jae Bu Do. The distinct nose of burning embers, meshed with a hint of gochujang, seemed to follow us around the apartment, even though we had both showered and tossed last night’s clothes in the wash.

After searching every corner for the culprit, we finally discovered that the smell was emanating from my cell phone.  The evening’s flavors had soaked into its plastic screen, so every time I sent a text or made a call for the next couple of days, the delicious memories from Jae Bu Do came wafting back. It was glorious and maybe even a little gross.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Jae Bu Do has been on my friend Ben‘s list of restaurants to try ever since Jonathan Gold wrote about its slimy hagfish back in 2010. While the awful-sounding fish is no longer on the menu, Jae Bu Do continues to grill up a plethora of fabulously fresh fruits of the sea tableside.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The wait for a table was nearly 40 minutes when our party of three arrived at 7 PM on a Friday night. With plenty of time to weigh and debate the three menu options at hand, we were ready to order as soon as a table opened up. We chose option B ($74.99), which included all sorts of good stuff like oysters, shrimp, and “ork” shell, and was ideal for groups of three to four according to our waiter.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

In addition to the boatload of seafood, we were treated to a slew of complimentary side dishes. Served on a hot skillet, the cheese- and mayonnaise-laden corn was caramelized on the bottom and sweet and creamy all over. We loved it so much that seconds and thirds were requested.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Despite being a little greasy, the vegetable pancake was also a hit with us, especially the crisped and browned edges.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

I never understood the appeal of steamed egg until tonight’s feast. As our tongues were punished left and right by the scorching seafood and spicy flavors, a bite of the soft curds mellowed everything out. I totally get it now.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The last side dish was comprised of slices of raw fish and cooked shrimp marinating in a chili and sesame dressing along with cabbage, scallions, and jalapenos. While the dressing looked fiery as hell, it tasted only mildly spicy with a strong sesame kick. I loved every bite of this one.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

We commenced the grilling portion of the meal by slipping on sexy white gloves. These allowed us to pluck the hot morsels straight off the grill and swiftly deliver them to our mouths without having to fuss with utensils. Pure genius.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The first nibbles to hit the grill were the clams, which sprung open just as soon as they encountered the sizzling grate. Tender meat coupled with juicy innards made these simple and satisfying.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The abalone, which was still alive when it was set on the grill, suffered a long and tortuous death at the hands of the heat. As soon as it met its fate, our waiter swooped down and snipped it into thirds with a pair of kitchen shears. While its chewy texture didn’t win any fans, slathered in fermented sesame paste it tasted just right.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The scallop was dynamite both in raw and cooked form. The former was downright silky, while the latter had a pleasant snap.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The mussels were meaty little bites that didn’t need any sauces or enhancements to shine.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The giant clam had a salty way about it and tasted distinctly of the sea.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The grill was also used to heat up to two buttery, mildly spiced soups. The one in the metal pot contained scallops, shrimp and abalone…

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

…while the one wrapped in tin foil was brimming with baby scallops.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The head- and shell-on shrimp were somewhat pedestrian compared to the other morsels on the grill, but we loved ‘em all the same. I was quite proud of Ben for sucking all of the sweet juices from the heads—it’s the best part of the shrimp.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The scallops swimming in gochujang arrived on the half shell. These saucy bites offered a great contrast to the minimally adorned morsels.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The oysters echoed the flavor of the giant clam—unabashedly briny with distinct notes of the sea.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The final fruit to be grilled was the octopus. The head proved to be the most delightful bite, while the tentacles were nice and chewy.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

One of the highlights of the spread came near the end—a beautiful noodle soup with vegetables and knife-cut noodles. Even though I was stuffed like you wouldn’t believe from all that seafood, I managed to slurp down a bowl. It was warm and comforting.

Jae Bu Do - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Dessert came in the form of two potatoes, one russet and the other sweet, that had been baking amongst the burning embers during our meal. Potatoes make finer desserts than I would have imagined.

Even though Jae Bu Do stank up my phone and made my eyes water due to poor ventilation, I can’t wait to return again along with a posse of seafood-loving friends. This place is awesome.

Jae Bu Do
474 North Western
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone: 323-467-2900

One year ago: Del Posto – New York City
Two years ago: Fortune Cookies – Los Angeles (Hollywood)
Three years ago: Cafe 100 – Hilo
Four years ago: Chicken Bacolod at Glorietta Mall – Manila
Five years ago: Cà Dê Nướng – Roasted Eggplant with Soy Sauce and Chilies

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13 Responses to “Jae Bu Do – Los Angeles (Koreatown)”


  • Wow! This place looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  • Oh my goodness – that looks insanely good! The grilled items look fantastic! So jealous!

  • Too bad I really don’t have the stomach to actually eat all of that. But looking is enough, for now.

  • looks quite good to me. the variety of smaller
    dishes versus a few larger plates is growing
    on me. i’ve been to a few korean bbq houses and
    tapas eateries and have yet to complain. thx
    for the coverage. btw… where is the kimchi?

  • TheSwedishChefHere’s the kimchi (right behind the fermented soybean paste)! No worries on that front ;-)

  • Duude, this looks like a fun, unforgettable, and delicious meal!

  • I really need to try some seafood KBBQ. And those noodles..

  • I can never get enough of fresh seafood. Never tried it Korean style so this is a must!

  • Was everything listed above the fish and shrimp salad all part of the banchan? That’s crazy talk! What a great way to end the meal… caramelized sweet potatoes. When you go next time, can I please get an invite? All joking aside, that looked like a meal to remember.

  • Christine - All banchan, baby! Koreatown spoils me so! And I’d love to have you come along on the next Jae Bu Do Express :)

  • It’s barely 9 am and I’m drooling! A whale of a good time, so many great sides I’ve never seen before, and then the seafood dishes just kept getting better and better…

  • Actually went here based on your recommendation. It was fun, smoky, and A LOT of food for two people even with the smallest combo! My only natch with this place is that they only have gochujang and chilies to flavor the seafood with. Got to be a bit monotonous after a while. I guess I’m a bit spoiled with Viet food in that there are more sauce options to choose from. If we make it back here, will definitely try to sneak in some condiments to help things along…^_^

  • Anh - Jae Bu Do is great, but you’re right, Korean flavors aren’t as varied as Vietnamese ones ;-) Did you try the ssamjang (fermented soybean paste)? It’s my favorite Korean condiment. Paired great with the seafood.

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