Oct 2009

Don Dae Gam – Los Angeles (Koreatown)

The evening following the blogger feast at Gyenari in Culver City, The Astronomer and I met up with Miss Eat.Sip.Chew and Misters SinoSoul and Infinite Fress in Koreatown for one of the most interesting Korean barbecue experiences of my eating career. Instead of the usual spread of sweetly marinaded galbi and bulgogi, Don Dae Gam forced us to dig deep into the world of pork entrails. The polished Korean food that I had enjoyed the night before whetted my appetite for some down home and dirty K-Town fare. Bring on the neck and diaphragm, please.

Orders were already placed by the time The Astronomer and I arrived; all we had to do was sit back, relax, and enjoy the parade of food. First to arrive at the table were some very fine banchan, including kimchee,  scallion-topped jelly squares, a fresh green salad, potato slices, rice papers, and pickled cabbage. The potatoes and jellies were taste bud savers when the meal began to heat up.

The selection of piggy parts this evening included two types of neck meat, two types of pork belly, intestines, and diaphragm meat. The photo above is a positively pink plate of neck meat.

Tony manned the charcoal grills like a champ all evening long and cooked the piggy bits to a splendid state. The neck, pork belly, and diaphragm weren’t particularly flavorful on their own, but with a little chili paste, the meats came alive nicely.  The only slightly off-putting bits on my plate were the tubular intestines, which possessed a glossy sheen and fatty chew.

In addition to the selections from the grill, we shared an order of nakji jeongol, a spicy baby octopus and pork stir-fry prepared tableside. Tony tells me that this dish is traditionally made with beef, but that Don Dae Gam took culinary license because they specialize in swine.

A thick and shallow pan prepped with all of the dish’s ingredients was brought to the table (top, left).  While we were eating other bites, the nakji jeongol bubbled away on a tabletop brazier. Our waiter dished out the intensely spicy stew once it was ready to go (top, right). After all of the nakji jeongol was served, the waiter added black rice to the pan (bottom, left), and prepared a fried rice using the remaining flavorful bits (bottom, right). The stew was way too spicy for me, but the fried rice was just right.

While we waited for the nakji jeongol to ready itself, we shared an order of haemul pajeon. The seafood pancake greased up my fingers and warmed my belly.

The final course of the evening was a frosty bowl of kimchee noodles (kimchi mal-li guksu). The shards of shaved ice swimming in the tangy broth imparted a shocking frigidity to the dish. While I shivered in my sundress and sandals, The Astronomer ate every last chilly strand.

Don Dae Gam
1145 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Phone: 323-373-0700

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11 thoughts on “Don Dae Gam – Los Angeles (Koreatown)

  1. Ack! That looks amazing (except for the jellied belly bits, which frankly I don’t think I’d try). Nothing, bar nothing, is too spicy, IMO. Your Korea-town ventures are so delicious.

  2. Oh no. those white obese maggoty looking things scare me. Oh no Mr. Bill. But… I might try it… once. If I was on fear factor. Everything else looks edible.

  3. That was a highly enjoyable meal. I don’t know how your lesser half ate that Arctic kimchi soup. I’d imagine that it’s popular in Pyongyang, not Pusan. But weren’t here baby octopodes in the nakji jeongol, not squid?

  4. I had some pork cheek in Seoul, reminded me of this place. Don Dae Gam is just as good as this place in Seoul, but about 3x more expensive. You and the Astronomer need to go to Korea, stat!

  5. Interesting assortment of banchans. Don’t think I’ve had rice papers and potatoes though. Soy beansprouts, the tiny fishies and seaweeds are my favorite.

    I’d love to do a banchan crawl and see what variety I get!

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