For the nominal price of $17.99 per person, Hae Jang Chon provided my cousins, The Astronomer, and me with an all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue feast that was so stupendous that it left our clothes and pores imbued with smoke and meat for days.
What set this barbecue emporium apart from others that I have visited in Koreatown [See: Don Day, Don Dae Gam, Tahoe Galbi] was the smooth stone grill used in place of the more common metal grates.
According to the restaurant’s website, the stone grill is ”nature’s best cooking surface.” It “produces various healthy minerals,” “absorbs and decomposes heavy metal ions,” and best of all, “absorbs excessive oil to bring out the exquisite taste of pork.” I don’t know if any of these claims are actually true, but I am sold nevertheless.
Another one of the restaurant’s notable touches was the homey tablescape that was neatly set before we were seated. Each place setting included an array of condiments in addition to silverware and plates. I went through two dishes of the fermented bean paste during the meal because meat just tastes better with a hit of salty funk.
Continue reading ‘Hae Jang Chon – Los Angeles (Koreatown)’
Back in mid-February, I was invited to speak on a panel about food trucks at UCLA. I wasn’t sure if I’d have much to contribute to the dialogue, but couldn’t refuse once I heard the line up. Joining in the discussion were Chef Roy Choi (founder of Kogi), Erik Cho and Brooke Howell (founders of Frysmith), and Natasha Case and Freya Estreller (founders of Cool Haus). Moderating the talk was none other than wordsmith extraordinaire, Jonathan Gold. I had to say yes.
As anticipated, the evening’s conversation was more about the business of trucking than the business of blogging, so I sat back and listened while my fellow panelists discussed their experiences. The highlight of it all was Chef Choi’s anecdotes about the genesis of Kogi and his passion for Los Angeles. I walked away from the talk craving his brand of bold Korean food with a distinctly L.A. soul. And thus, the “Roy Choi Restaurant Tour” was born.
After the tremendous success of Kogi, Chef followed it up with a rice bowl venture called Chego, which roughly translates to “the best.” The concept was inspired in part by the rice-bowl-hawking tenants who previously occupied the restaurant’s space, as well as the Chinese oven that they left behind. When Chef saw the metal box in the kitchen, he knew it would be perfect for cooking all manner of proteins slow and low.
The Astronomer and I dined here on a Saturday night along with our friends Nastassia and Reed. The line for grub stretched into the parking lot when we arrived, but it didn’t take too long to get through. We perused the menu upon making our way to the front and were pleased to find that everything from “Beginning” to “Middle” to “End” was priced under $10.
Continue reading ‘Chego – Los Angeles (Palms)’
I stumbled upon mixed messages while researching Mirak, a temple of goat delicacies in Los Angeles’ Koreatown. While Yelpers claimed that goat meat contained properties beneficial to women, bloggers alluded that it had a Viagra-like effect on men. Now that I’ve had my fill of the meat in question, I must say that both health claims are dubious at best and beside the point really. One ought to eat goat because it is delicious. Period.
Goat comes grilled, roasted, and stewed at Mirak. The Astronomer and I took a cue from the parties dining beside us and ordered a goat hot pot for two ($15 per person).
Before the main attraction arrived, our waitress brought over a few banchan for us to nibble on. There were two types of kimchi (cabbage and radish), marinated bean sprouts, and blanched broccoli and cauliflower drizzled with a sweet red chili sauce.
Continue reading ‘Mirak – Los Angeles (Koreatown)’
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.
Continue reading ‘Kobawoo House – Los Angeles (Koreatown)’