A few days before leaving town for the holidays, The Astronomer and I met up with a group of friends for a weeknight dinner at Kobawoo House, a porky palace that’s been around since 1983. I get the shakes when I go too long without a meal in Koreatown, so it felt damn good to be back in the land of kimchi and all-you-can-eat meat this evening.
Due to the restaurant’s popularity, layout, and capacity, our party of 12 could not be seated for a solid 45 minutes. Additionally, we were split between two tables. This place isn’t great for big groups, but with the promise of pork belly to come, everyone remained in high spirits.
As soon as our butts hit the seats, hot tea and an array of simple banchan arrived at the table. My favorite of the bunch was the green onion-specked omelet, which was served cold. We requested a second helping of it because one slice per person just wasn’t gonna cut it.
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The Astronomer and I have a long history with The Wiltern, Ben Folds, and Koreatown. Well, maybe “a long history” is pushing it a bit. Back in 2008, we attended a Ben Folds show at The Wiltern and enjoyed dinner beforehand at Tofu Village. The convenience couldn’t be beat, and the flavors left our mouths pleasantly afire.
Ben Folds and company recently returned to Los Angeles to play another gig at The Wiltern. We once again scoped out a K-Town dinner prior to filing into the venue. The Wiltern’s proximity to great Korean eats means that The Astronomer and I are always well fueled to stand still for the duration of the show.
Jeon Ju was written up in the Los Angeles Times sometime back in 1998 by the lovely Barbara Hansen, but I learned about this place from my friend Matt. He promised me that the house special sizzling rice bowls were worth checking out the next time I found myself hungry for carbohydrates in Koreatown.
After settling into our seats and placing our order, two complimentary bowls of cold noodles came our way. The soup was mostly thin and not too spicy, while the noodles were tightly bundled in the center of the bowl. Even though it wasn’t a particularly warm evening, both The Astronomer and I slurped up the broth, noodles, and all.
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Cousin Phil is my favorite person to feast on all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue with. His appetite for animal lifeblood rivals that of a T-Rex and his skills on the grill are top notch. When it’s just The Astronomer and me protein-loading in K-Town, there’s always a possibility that we won’t be able to polish off the final plate of galbi or that we’ll somehow burn the delicate shrimp or squid. However, when Phil’s around, everything is carefully managed and under control.
When a recent business trip brought Phil to Los Angeles for two days, The Astronomer and I whisked him away for a Korean barbecue dinner. After picking him up at his downtown hotel, we made the short drive to DonDay in Koreatown. According to my friend Danny, the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat specials offered good quality and value. Our party of three settled on the $19.99 per person option that included a variety of animals, cuts, and marinades.
Included in the price of admission was a small army of side dishes. The Astronomer and Phil didn’t care too much for the banchan, but they’re my absolute favorite part of Korean dining.
Tonight’s selection included blanched broccoli with sesame oil, pickled daikon, kimchi, macaroni salad, marinaded cucumbers, bamboo shoots with jalapenos, and rice papers. I appreciated how the ladies who run the joint happily refilled my mac salad and rice papers when I ran low.
Continue reading ‘DonDay – Los Angeles (Koreatown)’
According to Google Reader, I subscribe to over 200 food blogs and have read 2,608 posts in the past 30 days. Considering these staggering numbers, it should come as no surprise that the information I glean online greatly influences my dining choices at home and out on the town. Whether it’s a professional site or an amateur effort, there’s something about the combination of mouthwatering photos and excitable words that sends my cravings through the roof.
The latest case of the blog-inspired hunger pangs occurred after reading The Roaming Belly’s write up on OB Bear. Amy’s potent words and photos left me with an intense hankering for Korean pub grub that needed to be satisfied as soon as possible. After exchanging a few of emails, Amy agreed to accompany me for another greasy, spicy go-round the following week.
My gochujang-covered dreams were realized on a random Wednesday evening. We were joined by The Astronomer, Danny, Hong, Remil, and Amy’s fiance Dennis—we took advantage of our large group to order quite a bit of food. And just in case you’re curious, the restaurant is named after a Seoul-based professional baseball team that was at one time sponsored by Oriental Brewery (OB).
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I attended a most fabulous kimchi pickling workshop earlier this week hosted by Cham Korean Bistro, my favorite restaurant in Pasadena. The event was held at the restaurant’s R&D kitchen in the little-visited city of Vernon and was attended by all sorts of food-adoring media types including my pals B-Side, H.C., Javier, Valentina, Esther, and Eddie. We were all eager to learn the ins and outs of fermentation and to expand our knowledge of Korea’s beloved dish.
Led by Chef EJ Jeong, formerly of BOA and A.O.C., the two hour-long class was fun, educational, and most importantly, tongue-searingly delicious. While teaching us how to make traditional Napa cabbage kimchi (tong baechu kimchi), Chef Jeong weaved in hilarious stories about her family and culture. My favorite anecdote recounted a popular Korean saying that “a man can live without a wife, but not without kimchi.” Now, that’s some serious affection!
Before the class officially began, we were treated to a selection of small bites including tofu pockets, kale chips, and seared tuna on a stick. I’ve enjoyed the spicy tuna and seaweed pockets countless times at the restaurant, but the kimchi variety was new to me. The best part of the kimchi pocket was that it was topped with candied anchovies! I’m crossing my fingers that it becomes a menu mainstay because the world needs more candied little fishes.
After we filled our bellies halfway, it was time for the learning to commence…
Continue reading ‘Kimchi Pickling 101 with Chef EJ Jeong of Cham Korean Bistro’