Korean Comfort Food at its best.
This place is a find. This is probably one of the better Korean meals, I have had in awhile. Seongbukdong is known for having excellent Korean comfort food. Perhaps known for the simplicity of the dishes, they make them very well. These dishes – the Galbi Jjim(braised short ribs), Kimchi Chigae(stewed kimchi), Braised Mackerel(sorry, forgot the Korean name), and Galbi Tang(short rib in soup) are the headliners at Seongbukdong.
But the Galbi Jjim is what will keep you begging for more. Large enough for two people, the beef is braised so long that the meat literally falls off the bone effortlessly. The sauce is not too thick nor to condensed in flavor which makes it go well with steamed white rice. They also off a soft of fried rice with bean sprouts, kinda like a Bibim-bap, but we didn’t order that. The beef cut with scissors in larger than bite size chucks was quickly gobbled up by our party of 5. As I scanned the dining room, with less than 9 tables, I saw almost everyone had the familiar over-sized white bowl of goodness.
It seems Seongbukdong attracts both young and older Koreans with comfort food, just as do Americans like mac’n cheese and fried chicken. in my humble opinion, the Galbi Tang – the short rib in soup was the 2nd best dish on our table. With the same meat, this hearty soup with glass noodles, was served in its milky white broth. You can tell it has been cooking for a long time since the bone marrow is starting to breakdown to give this milky white color.
The braised mackerel and the kimchi chigae were also exceptional as well. Not all too spicy, yet with the right amount of kick, these two dishes, along with the other two, was enough for the 5 of us. The mackerel with the large fish chunks and the kimchi chigae, though had similar flavoring with the broiled kimchi, which was my only issue.
What to Order: Galbi Jjim(braised short ribs), Kimchi Chigae(stewed kimchi), Braised Mackerel(sorry, forgot the Korean name), and Galbi Tang(short rib in soup)
What not to Order: Personally, I don’t think I would order the Braised Mackerel again.
Parking situation: Small lot with $2 charge. I’d look for street parking. And make sure you get there early, this small place fills up fast.
3 pigs, $$
3303 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
The Beef Ban Chan(appetizer side dish) is special to Mountain Cafe. It goes with the abalone congee. You take the juices and spoon some into the congee and it produces a brand new dimension of flavor.
I recently went back to visit Mountain Cafe. Same as it ever was. My pictures this time were much better than before. No wall of text here. . .just a short post with pictures. Enjoy
What to Order: #1 abalone chowder (congee)
What not to Order:
3 pigs, $
Miss C made the daring selection for us tonight. Since she is Korean, I trust her judgment in K-Town selections . . . thank goodness. She said she noticed Man Soo, which was opening, while driving around in K-Town. . .
Grilled Octopus being snipped into bite-sized pieces. Take notice of the dipping sauce.
The thing about new Korean BBQ restaurants – it is said that they offer more(in their servings to entice new customers), smell nicer(since they don’t have the stench in the walls), and less crowded(till they get hyped up). But there is also a risk in being guinea pigs at an unknown restaurant. I like the idea of trying newly open places, but I also know that it may backfire with crappy food. But in most cases, since I am pretty flexible and hard to let down(foodwise), I am easy to please.
We were pleasantly surprised with the selection of Man Soo. Once you walk in the clean new establishment, you notice that it is a bit sparse. Undeterred, we sat down and ordered, since our stomachs influenced decision to stay. The Man Soo Gui – the boneless short ribs(kalbi) and the rib eye steak were on full page spreads in the menu – which we both ordered. The kalbi was their “most popular” meat dish – which was featured in full color on one page. Then, as you flip the page, you’ll see the rib eye steak – in all its full page glory. Once we got our raw meat, the round recessed iron cooking pan started to sear the meat fast. The waitress suggested, in its customary fashion, to add the bean sprouts as it is just about finished cooking – to be eaten together. With only 2 orders of meat – it was plenty for the 6 of us. I enjoyed the rib eye steak much more than the short ribs, as did my 5 other cohorts. The rib eye had a nice marbling with the proper fat content. The fat maintained the right texture as well as provided excellent flavor with each bite. I’m not “shorting” the short ribs, but it was a bit of a disappointment, coupled with the expectations from the menu and compared to the rib eye steak.
With the standard salt and salt with oil sauce, we were also given a nutty (sort of peanut) sauce. This nutty sauce was, in my humble opinion (IMHO), the hit of the night. Look for this sauce in the bowl that’s just a little bit bigger than the others.
One other thing I wanted to mention, was the grilled octopus. Already grilled and cooked, it arrives with a waitress snipping off bite size tentacles. With the sauce, and I emphasize WITH the sauce, the octopus was quite scrumptious. I rarely order octopus – except for a Tako Sunomono, but today’s was an exception. The grilled octopus is a complimentary dish for the BBQ. I last saw the complimentary octopus from Honey Pig, as well – perhaps its a custom or a trend.
And another nice bonus, the self serve panchan. The idea of getting your own panchan is a fun event in itself. Though at almost all Korean restaurants, panchan is complimentary and is never-ending. This concept, allows you to get what you want, at what quantity. There’s also the idea of not wasting what you don’t want. I think people will like idea. But you’d think we’d be picky and only select a couple items, but in fact, we almost got a small dish of everything. I know the egg/potato salad was quite popular. I know I enjoyed the kimchi.
Lastly, I must mention about the end of the grill selection – of either soy-bean paste porridge (Doenjang Juk) or stir fried rice with diced radish kimchi (Bokkeumbab). I wanted the porridge, but I was quickly overruled. Even the waitress suggest the Bokkembab. The presentation, which is similar to that from Honey Pig, starts with a clean grill bowl. But I would have thought they would have used our old bowl with the burned crispy goodness. But anyways, they pour in the radish kimchi soupy mixture, then dump in two bowls of white rice. They let it simmer and cook, then add in the dried seaweed to finish it off. Interesting but almost a let down, till we chopped into it. We almost forgot about the burnt rice texture at the bottom – which Chinese Fried Rice lacks. Anyways. . . I am going to push for the porridge next time.
We all agreed, at the end of the night, that we had to bow down to Miss C’s roulette of restaurant choice. This is a great place for a group of friends.
What to Order: Rib eye steak
What not to Order: I enjoyed almost everything I put in my mouth.
2 pigs, $$
Man Soo Korean BBQ
3423-3429 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Not your typical Korean restaurant . . . Kobawoo has pretty good pork – bossam dish. It seems that I am attracted to pork, not sure why.
The Bossam 보쌈. You take a slice of pork and wrap it in a vegetable – lettuce or a thin radish sliver. Mix in some kimchi and peppers – and eat it like a mini burrito.
Kobawoo House was a choice for an early dinner for our little group. I had never heard of it. I was expecting some sort of Korean BBQ or something. The usual engrossing smelly experience. In addition, I didn’t have the requisite token Korean to accompany us. It helps to have a native to help us order and make sure we don’t get laughed at. So, in my mind, we were taking a big chance. But when we walked in, it looked like a traditional Korean restaurant with their big tables. I did notice the big air suction fans from the ceiling and the cooking tables.
But surprisingly, we didn’t order the Koreantown BBQ. I got a bunch of things from a sizzling plate of pork and beef. But I want to talk about their banchan – 반찬. They had an excellent mix of a selection kimchi, some egg thingy, little dried fish dish, and others. Sometime you can tell the quality of a Korean restaurant with the amount and variety of banchan that they offer. Some places only give a couple of dishes, but Kobawoo gave us like 6 or 7. And we had two servings for the 5 of us. Nice spread in my opinion. The kimchi, is what I went after first. I know I can handle too much “heat”, but I like the initial taste and mouth feel. Just thinking about kimchi makes my mouth water.
The bossam is what makes Kobawoo standout. I don’t think I have ever had bossam 보쌈 before. Guess it is my lack of K-town experience. Anyways. . .what you do it take the slices of pork and wrap it around leaf lettuce and wrap with peppers. This pork is steamed to a white-ish color. This pork was slightly fatty with a tender texture. I think I ate too many of these.
Pajeon pancake was pretty good. I believe it was a seafood pancake. I don’t like the chewy squid in my pancakes. I doubt white America would be ready for this dish to go mainstream. Not much more I can say. Personally, I like the simple kimchi pancakes. Kimchi pancakes are one of my favorite things in life. Anyways. . .
2 pigs, $$
698 S Vermont Ave Ste 109
Los Angeles, CA 90005