Korean

Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong – Flower Beef FTW

by Franklin on December 22, 2014

The acronyms AYCE and KBBQ go hand in hand, almost to the point of interchangeability. (Side note: the word “interchangeability” is the longest word used on this blog, I think.). I’m a carnivore to my core, and having all that my heart and stomach desires is welcome. For this reason alone is I think the reason why it took me so long to eat at Kang Ho Dong Beakjeong. For years, I’ve heard people tout that this is the best meat ever and I’ve seen crowds waiting to get a seat. Why are these people waiting for KBBQ with a limit? This must be good.

We ordered the beef cut called Flower meat. This is their signature cut and what everyone comes here for. The meat came in strips, and the marbling on the beef was incredible. It was a very fatty piece of beef. I am not quite sure on the cut of the beef — Judging the look, taste and texture, I’d guess it’s either a flank or rib. Am I way off? Regardless, the beef was pristine, and despite the large price tag, we wanted more.

We ordered the lesser priced, but equally popular, pork jowl. I liked the pork jowl (hang jung sal), but was more partial to the beef. Over cooking can cause the meat to be very rubbery. The taste was clean and the fat content was definitely there. Just the cooking process caused the texture to be quite off putting. In fact, this was the most rubbery piece of meat I’ve had in quite some time. Get the beef — flower beef.

To go with our meats, we also ordered the “lunch box” (doshirak). This was a bibimbap kind of dish. It reminded me of what I’d eat at home when there was nothing to eat. Just rice and a bunch of stuff from the fridge, add an egg on top to “keep it real” and I was good to go. Theirs was done nicely, with a mix of marinated seafood side dishes. It had lots of dried seafood actually and intensified the flavors a lot.

I guess I should mention Kang Ho Dong was a Korean comedian and MC. I don’t really follow Korean pop culture so I don’t really know much else about him. I guess having a famous person owning a restaurant is helpful. People flock to this place. Luckily, I went on a Monday and fit before the dinner rush. As the sun sets, expect a wait on any given night. A wait is expected for reasons not so mysterious. Even though the meat isn’t endless, the quality and atmosphere is why people come. Everyone loudly greets you when you enter, and everyone bids you farewell. The experience was great and the beef was exceptional. What more can I want?

Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

POT – Hot POT

by Franklin on September 29, 2014

Chef Roy Choi owns the Line Hotel as far as eating goes. With POT, Pot Cafe, and Pot Bar, and now the newly opened Commissary, Roy Choi definitely is taking over the food scene. With the opening of the Line Hotel and POT, there was a lot of buzz. Working in Koreatown, I tend not to eat around there. I have my reasons. Finally though, I was able to eat at POT and see what all the fuss is about. Way late in the game, I know. Better late than never.

Named POT, Chef Roy Choi is definitely referring to marijuana. Though he is referring to POT as being the hot pot restaurant that it is, there are plenty of references to marijuana inside the restaurant. You just have to come in and see. The space was a lot more casual than I thought. It honestly reminded me of the Koreatown PLaza food court in the 90’s. Maybe that’s what Chef Choi had in mind? Nonetheless, it was interesting.

We started things off with a trio of Korean side dishes. The kimchi was a bit sweet for some reason, but the sprouts were fresh tasting — almost refreshing. I really liked the marinated green onions. Again, the metal dish reminded me of Koreatown mall food courts.

Upon my buddy’s request, we ordered the potato pancake. I sure was glad we ordered this dish. The pancake was so crispy on the edges, it was insane. I like dipping it in the soy sauce concoction. It was exactly how my mom would make it. The potato pancake had a great flavor, but the crispy texture put it over the top.

The Beep Beep, Uni Dynamite rice bowl has been circulating around Instragram and Yelp since the dish became popular. Honestly, the pictures make it look like a huge bowl of rice and uni. When it came out, I was kind of bummed out, but thats what internet does to you. The flavor of this dish was quite intense, and so much so that the flavors of the uni was a bit lost. All of the other flavors really took away from the unique taste of the uni. I am an uni enthusiast, and this dish, though flavorful did not do it for me. I did like the crispy rice on the edges and the unique flavors, but a simpler approach might have been better.

Of course at POT, we had to order a hot pot. We opted for the Jamal Wilks, a seafood hot pot mix of silky tofu, shrimp, clams, mussels, kimchi, scallions, pork belly, and eggs. The seafood was fresh and had lots of seafood essence. The broth was intense with flavors, like it had too much flavor. The soup was thick and almost mudded with spices and ingredients. The small, which was $37, was actually pretty huge. I think it would have been big enough for about 4 people. I cannot justify the cost as I could get a nice personal bowl of seafood tofu soup at BCD for less than 10 bucks. I did finally find the little bits of pork belly inside which was delicious. The broth though was over flavored, and it had a nice depth of flavor. Not saying it as a positive or negative, but just as a matter of fact.

POT was an interesting experience. I think seeing it online and on the blogs before I finally experienced it for myself ruined it. I had such huge expectations for this place, and ultimately, my expectations were not met. Maybe my expectations were unrealistically high? I am not sure, but I can’t find myself eating at POT again. The food was average and everything seemed to be over flavored. I know too much flavor seems like a good thing, but it wasn’t in this case.

Pot on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

KTOWN Night Market Recap

by Franklin on May 13, 2014

LOS ANGELES – On April 18th and 19th, the highly anticipated KTOWN Night Market welcomed an estimated 80,000 guests to the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools for its twoQday community festival. In partnership with the City of Los Angeles District 10, the free to enter event showcased over 100 multi ethnic food vendors, merchandise booths, art exhibits, carnival games, and live entertainment.

Both nights featured a food truck lineup curated by Seoul Sausage, which included two winners from Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race”—Grill ‘Em All and Lime Truck. The “Food Truck Alley” also included locally renowned trucks like Fluff Ice, India Jones, White Rabbit, East LA Tacos, Bowled & Beautiful, CoolHaus, Jogasaki Sushi Burrito, and Carb & Nation—the fanQvoted winner of the event’s Last Food Truck Facebook contest. The “Food Truck Alley” was so popular that most of the vendors had to cart in more food after selling out earlier than expected.

{ 0 comments }

Koreatown Night Market

by Franklin on February 28, 2014

The night market makes its way to Koreatown! Presented by the City of Los Angeles, The inaugural festival will be help on Friday, April 18, and Saturday, April 19. The event will be held at Robert F Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles. The event is free to the public and will feature over 100 food and merchandise vendors representing the multi-ethnic street cuisine from Los Angeles and Orange County. Seoul Sausage Company will be the curators of the festival’s food truck line up. KTOWN Night Market will also feature various activities, carnival games, and live entertainment.

The event should be a huge one, with almost 40,000 guests estimated to be in attendance. Friday’s event is from 4PM – Midnight, Saturday’s event is from 2PM – Midnight. Yelp is even hosting a KTOWN Bar Crawl that continues through the night. It should be a fun-filled event!

{ 0 comments }

Seoul Sausage had humble beginnings —Simple Korean BBQ sausage street vendors turned reality TV competition stars pretty much sums it up. The Great Food Truck Race season 3 winners immediately gained popularity, and in 2012, they opened up a small shop in Little Osaka on Sawtelle. Serving up their popular Korean BBQ style sausages and street food, the food is innovative and exciting. Never have I imagined Korean BBQ to be stuffed inside a sausage.

It is a sausage company after all, and I had my eye on the spicy pork. The Handmade Korean BBQ pork sausage was flavorful. It had great pork flavor, but a bit on the mild side. I am used to sausage that is salty and full of flavor. This just tasted more like spicy pork inside a tube casing, which by the way was missing the snap of good sausage. It definitely need just a pinch more salt and way more spice. I did enjoy the apple cabbage cole slaw though. It was fresh and gave it that crunch it needed. Served on a toasted soft roll, this was an interesting experience. Never would I have thought that Korean dishes would make its way into a sausage.

The flaming ball was a genius idea. I choose the kimchi fried rice ball. Inside was a cheesy kimchi fried rice with spicy pork served with DMZ sauce. This sauce was perfect — it is a garlic jalapeno kimchi sriracha aioli that went well with the slightly spicy kimchi fried rice. The outer fried batter held everything together. The fried rice inside was pretty standard, but the mixture of the crunchy outside and killer DMZ sauce made everything work together. It was a nice little snack.

The shop is small and only has limited outdoor seating. Situated on Sawtelle and Mississippi, it sits at the bottom of an apartment/condo. The food choices are limited, but with the addition of a fried chicken dish (Da KFC), and galbi poutine, hungry customers should be satisfied. If you’re hungry, or just looking for a little snack, Seoul Sausage Co. has just the right fix. This is what LA is all about — a mashup of ideas and cuisine that creates a fusion of food from different regions. Seoul Sausage Co. hits home for me because of my Korean roots, and spins it in such a way that something so familiar is transformed into something brand new. Creativity is the key, and Los Angeles is the most accepting of anything new.

Seoul Sausage Company on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Gen Korean BBQ – Top Notch AYCE

by Franklin on October 14, 2013

If you didn’t know by now, I am Korean. I grew up on rice, kimchi, and SPAM. Now in my late 20’s, I don’t get to eat my mom’s cooking as often. I think these days, the closest thing I get to Korean cuisine is Korean BBQ. One of my all time favorite Korean BBQ joints, unfortunately a bit far, is Gen Korean BBQ in Tustin. Yeah, Alhambra has their very own Gen Korean BBQ, but that place was a disappointment. The one in Tustin though, it quite the spot.

Ban-Chan was all symmetrically prepared before us. You know how mirrors make rooms seem larger? This “mirror” effect gave the illusion that there was a lot of ban chan. Yeah, most places would make people share this stuff. It was cool that for two people, we each had our own set.


The reason why Gen is one of my favorite Korean BBQ spots is because of the meat. The thinly sliced beef brisket (Chadol) and non-marinated short rib is my favorite. The beef brisket has a pure beef flavor and the fat has an indescribable quality to it. It seems like it was never frozen; the meat doesn’t dry up once cooked. The short rib has a perfect balance of meat and fat, and the marbling is excellent. And yes, that is large intestine you see in the picture. It’s a bit chewy and a lot fatty, but dang good! The quality is the best — clean and pure.

The experience at Gen Korean BBQ is like no other. Not only is the meat great, but the ambiance is on par. With modern leather(ish) chairs and granite(esque) tables, to the blue ambient lighting, the space is cool and relaxing. From great quality meat and modern fixtures, what more can I ask for?

Gen Korean BBQ & Yakitori Bar on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Kobawoo House – Koreatown’s Bossam

by Franklin on May 13, 2013

What can I say about Koreatown? In fact, what good things can I say about Koreatown? I can’t really think of anything, sadly. It’s dirty, over populated, and it’s pretty much the “New Jersey” of Los Angeles. As a Korean American, I grew up eating and breathing Koreatown. My parents, like almost all Koreans, do business here have some sort of connection to Koreatown. One great thing about Koreatown is the Korean food. With Korean BBQ joints on every corner and every other Korean food you can think of, its available. One of my favorite places to get bossam is Kobawoo House on the corner of 7th and Vermont. The food is great, and every single patron gets the bossam. Bossam is steamed or boiled pork that is wrapped in leaf vegetables. It is often topped with a fermented bean paste or marinated tiny shrimp or kimchi. Sometimes (most times) I get a craving for bossam, and this is the place to get your fix.

Before we got our bossam, we were given some side dishes (banchan). We had some stir fried sweet potato noodles (japchae), 2 kinds of kimchi, and fishcake. I never know if the side dishes are supposed to be eaten with the meal, but I always treated it as an appetizer. I always go for the kimchi. The noodles were perfect, but never as good as my mom’s japchae.

The bossam came in thin slices, stacked on top of each other. The pork taste was mild and the skin was gelatinous and soft. Wrapping it in their perfectly picked Napa cabbage, the morsel of food is perfect in itself. The toppings of the salty shrimp and the dried and marinated radishes gave it a nice spicy flavor. The salty shrimp and pork made a good combination, and the dried marinated radish gave it a nice crunch. To top it all off, I added their soy sauce marinated jalapeno peppers to give the bite some needed heat. Wrapping the whole thing together was a huge amount of food, but I managed to fit the whole thing in my mouth. I would try biting it in half, but the Napa cabbage doesn’t break off too easily. Plus, fitting the whole thing in your mouth and eating it is the Korean way. There is no shame in that. A bite of their pink pickled radish to cleanse the palate, and I was ready for another.

Another item I ordered was their seafood pancake (Haemul Panjun). The sizzling seafood pancake had a mixture of scallops, shrimp, oyster, squid, clams, and green onion. The whole thing was mixed with flour and cooked on a skillet. It was sliced like pizza into 6, and served. After one, I was tired of it. The pancake was thick and dense. The mixture of the seafood was good, especially dipped in the vinegar, green onion, and soy sauce mixture. If it weren’t for this, this wouldn’t have been even considered. I should have ordered the cheaper and smaller kimchi pancake. It would have suited the bossam a little better. In hind sight, I would have foregone the seafood pancake.

Kobawoo House is a popular spot in Koreatown — there’s usually a wait during lunch and dinner. I remember seeing them at the LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast and trying their Korean style pancakes. It was really good, and knew their pancakes were not even specialty. Honestly, Kobawoo House is the place to get bossam. Maybe you can get the Korean style pancakes, but really, its all about the bossam. Other places are good, but the pork at Kobawoo is sublime and the small details in flavor are unmatched. I can go for some right now.

Kobawoo on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Gosh Cha Cha Chili.  Why did you do this to me?  You got me so excited, and now I am caught in the middle.  I ordered my food, but you made me wait 30 minutes for 2 tacos and a burrito.  At first you excited me because I got the last of the short rib. Score!  But why didn’t it taste like anything?  Why did I feel I should have gotten the far superior spicy bbq pork tacos?  I hate you, and I like you.  But for the most part, I like you.  Just don’t make me wait over 30 minutes for my food.  Thanks.

This place is located in the weirdest neighborhood ever.  Situated in between Lincoln Heights and the low lands behind Cal State LA, the location is awkward, but I guess it works. This Asian Mexican fusion makes Korean style tacos and burritos, as well as bowls.  As a fan of the Kogi Truck, I had to give it a try.  As You may already know, I clear like the food truck better.

The tacos were flavorful and huge.  They don’t use the tiny 2 inch tacos, but the ones they sell at the market. It was packed with flavorful pork, and the salad they put on top worked really well in the tacos.

The short rib burrito, which I assume caused the 30 minute wait, was a turn off for me.  The beef was chewy and tasteless.  The rice inside was mushy, and added to the blandness. Even the flour tortilla turned stale and hard, not warm and chewy.  The burrito, simply put, was not good.

Would I be stupid to come back?  No.  I wouldn’t mind getting a few Korean tacos.  I would be scared for the wait, so I would call ahead. Definitely, when the Kogi Truck is nowhere in sight, at least I know that this brick and mortar will stay put.

Cha Cha Chili on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Some days, you have to let loose.  Diets and counting calories don’t matter.  You shut down your hunger sensors and gorge in a all you can eat meat fest.  Koreatown has Korean BBQ restaurant at almost every corner.  One of my favorites is Hae Jang Chon on 6th Street. They offer some good quality meat and I personally like their selection.  This is one of my favorites because of the stone plates that the meat is cooked on.  These things are like the iron skillets that get passed down generation to generation.  All the meat essence that was cooked before is still on there from past patrons.  Time after time after time, all that meat essence is still there, and it comes out in the food.

The time me and my family went, just like any other night, was a busy one.  We waited nearly over an hour, so plan on doing the same.  It was particularly loud inside.  People were binge eating and drinking — nothing out of the ordinary on a Saturday night in Koreatown. This is all part of the Korean BBQ experience.

The food here is just as good as the experience.  Besides their many side plates, my favorite meat options are thinly sliced beef, short rib meat, and pork belly. I also like to get the tongue.  The tongue has a nice beef flavor but is not as chewy.  It is tender and the flavor is really nice., contrary to what others may think.

I also tried the baby octopus.  The beef on pork on beef was getting kind of tiring.  I roasted the baby octopus for a little, making sure not to over cook it. It was very tender and wasn’t rubbery at all.

The ending is the best.  Once you are done with the meat, it is time to eat more.  They clean the rock slate and cook this vegetable rice mix.  It is crispy on the bottom and so good as a finisher.  Check out the video to see the waiter in action.

Eating all you can eat is good, but not all the time.  Once in a while though, you have to give in.  Cook all the meat that you want, just the way you like.  It is right in front of you and once it is done, you just eat.  Watch your tongue though, that grill is hot.

Hae Jang Chon Restaurant on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

Remember when you were a kid and you loved pizza.  Heck, you probably still do.  Everyone likes the pizza, but hates the crust.  I don’t know about you, but I was one of those kids that ate the good part, and threw the crust back into the pizza box. Before you shake your head at me in disappointment, please note that I didn’t do this often, and I don’t do this anymore.  I didn’t know any better, okay?  I actually blame pizza companies for this.  If everyone stuffed their pizza crust with sweet potato like Love Letter Pizza and Chicken, we wouldn’t have this problem.  Yeah, they actually stuff their pizza crust with sweet potatoes.  That may sound a little off to you, but this stuff is delicious.

As pizzas go, their two popular ones are the Bul Kogi Pizza, as well as their Gold Pizza. The Bul Kogi pizza is a traditional pizza, but has marinated beef as one of the toppings.  The Gold Pizza is the sweet potato pizza that I mentioned before. It has bits of chopped sweet potato and veggies as toppings.  At the restaurant, I wanted to try both, but wasn’t about to order two pizzas.  They were kind enough to make me a half/half. Score!  Both pizzas were great — they were very different, but very tasty and delicious.  The sweet potato puree busted out of the crust and was very hot.  Don’t burn your mouth like I did.

Along with the pizza, the chicken wasjust as good, if not, maybe better.  I am a carnivore at heart, so this was really good to me. The chicken wings are fried, and then submerged in a sweet and spicy glaze.  The chicken was so crispy and flavorful from the sauce.  It it something you have to try yourself.  The sauce is sticky and sweet and is a perfect food mate with the pizza.

Along with our order, we got a complimentary salad.  It was basically shredded cabbage with thousand island and corn.  We also tried the corn cheese.  This was corn mixed in with jack cheese (maybe mozzarella), all melted on a skillet. This thing was so cheesy and good, it was a great starter.

Love Letter Pizza and Chicken, as the name suggests, sure do make pizzas and chicken.  The thing is, it’s not your ordinary pizzeria or chicken joint. They do something special, and their menu infuses Korean ingredients with their food.  Amazing pizzas, amazing chicken.  As for the name Love Letter, I am unsure of the origin or why it’s named that.  But I have a letter of my own, and it reads:

 

Dear Love Letter,
I love your pizzas.  I love your chicken.
With love,
My Stomach

Love Letter on Urbanspoon

{ 0 comments }

As a Korean American, I love Korean food.  I ate it growing up, and it gives me a sense of home when I eat it. I was excited that the AhnJoo Truck was going to be at the Santa Anita Food Festival, and it was my first stop.

AhnJoo is something of a snack or appetizer you have as you drink — alcohol.  The name is perfect for the truck because they serve some great bar food.

I had their Korean fried chicken with garlic glaze, and their Korean Nachos.  The fried chicken was very tasty.  The drum sticks were covered in this garlic sesame glaze that was deliciously sweet.  The pickled daikon radishes made it stand out even more.  Eating the chicken with the pickled radish was a great combination.  This is a classic Korean dish and this one hit me in my soul.

The Korean Nachos was my least favorite, but good nonetheless.  It was a base of fried rice cakes topped off with cheese, marinated pork, and kimchi salsa.  I still have a huge problem with eating Korean food with cheese. The Korean diet does not consist of anything dairy because there was no dairy back in old-school Korea.  These days, the trend for Korean fusion restaurants is to put cheese on traditional Korean cuisine.  I find it odd.  I guess I am a traditionalist after all.

I was glad that I tried the AhnJoo Truck.  Debbie Lee from the Food Network started the truck, and her culinary background shows in her menu. I may come off as sounding a bit biased, but I like to think that Korean Fusion recipes started this whole food truck craze in Los Angeles, namely Kogi BBQ.  Food trucks aren’t going anywhere (though they are), so it is always a treat to try new ones.  AhnJoo has provided some home felt eats from a truck.  Thank you guys!

Ahn Joo Mobile Cart on Urbanspoon

{ 1 comment }

Kogi BBQ – Gourmet Food Truck Pioneer

by Franklin on March 29, 2011

Food trucks are a dime a dozen these days. Los Angeles has the most food trucks and the most unique ones. It all started with the Kogi Truck. Chef Roy Choi along with other founders started this food truck. Their over 80,000 loyal twitter followers track their every move (@kogibbq). Currently, they operate 4 trucks (Azul, Verde, Naranja, Roja) — these trucks go all over Los Angeles and Orange County. They even have a kitchen at Alibi Room in Culver City.  It is obvious that they are the reasons behind the food truck boom in Los Angeles.

Their menu is unique in that they mix traditional Korean meats and dishes with Mexican ingredients.  They have short rib tacos and burritos, kimchi quesadillas, and other specialty eats.  I had the pleasure of eating at this truck many times, and they never disappoint.

The tacos and burritos come with choice of meat. The meat is so tasty from the marinate, that your mouth waters from every chew.  Then they put an Asian slaw on top that compliments the meat very well.  The slaw is a bit sour from the vinegar, and has some heat to it — they also add a sauce on top that brings the whole dish together.  One bite, and all those ingredients meld into one big complex array of flavors in your mouth.

For one of their specialty orders, the Blackjack Quesadilla has choice of marinated meat and cheese inside a flour tortilla.  Then they add a zesty sauce over.  At first, you may think that eating Korean food with cheese might be a bit weird  — try this and you will think differently.

At the end of the day, it’s just Korean meats on top of corn/flour tortilla.  That may be true, but the way chef Roy prepares his meats and ingredients is one of a kind.  One has to be a genius to think of food this way.  As a Korean American, and a lover of Mexican food, eating Kogi truck is definitely Delish.

Kogi Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 0 comments }