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Attention L.A. Koreans. Please Help

Does anywhere in or atound L.A. serve this?

One of my all-time favorite restaurants in the whole world is wonjodak (http://www.wonjodak.com), a chain of specialty chicken restaurants in Seoul, Korea. The one I go to every time I visit Seoul is in the Dongdaemun district, in an alley off a side-street, and looks like you're taking your life in your hands just to go in.

The place, itself, is small and messy, with just a few chrome-top tables, each of which has a large gas burner on it. As near as I can tell, there is no menu (I neither speak nor read Korean, but have always gone with Korean friends) and the only thing they serve is a sort of chicken soup/stew. (no, NOT dak tari tang).

Ordering is simple -- just tell the woman who comes to your table how many chickens you want. She then brings out a large pot of hot water with ginseng liquor, spices(?), and sliced potatoes in it and sets it on the burner to boil. Then she brings a large bowl of kim chee, which gets dumped into the water, and as many (partially steamed?) chickens as you have ordered, which she cuts up with scissors and adds to the water.

While the chicken is cooking, you make your own dipping sauce out of dried Korean red pepper flakes (the same as used in ko chu jang?), coleman's dried mustard powder, and a clear liquid (maybe vinegar, maybe ginseng wine, maybe something else).

When the chickens are fully cooked, you snare out chunks of it and potatoes and kim chee and dip them into the sauce.


After finishing the first order of chickens, the lady comes back to take your order for more. (You ALWAYS want more) and the process of cooking and eating is repeated.

Finally, when you're laying there gasping for breath (and probably giglling foolishly after having also consumed heroic amounts of soju or great Korean beer), a giant bowl of fresh hand-cut noodles is brought out and dropped into the now very rich (from cooking however many chickens) broth.

When the noodles have cooked, you somehow find a way to eat them all and all of the remaining soup, and, wildly full, and praying fervently that someone will have mercy, and you WILL be knifed as you stagger out of the restaurant, into the alley and off to your car, you ask this question:


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  1. wow! that sounds incredible. I can't wait to see if there are any places, thanks for the heads up on this type of meal.

      1. I haven't seen or heard of anything like that here but I've been asking around ........ will definitely post if i hear of anything :)

        2 Replies
          1. re: wilafur

            are you talking about sam gye tang? that's what it basically sounds like: chicken and ginseng being the key ingredients (although the preparation and presentation is probably unique---also the addition of kimchee is a variation too). i never eat this, but whenever i drive through koreatown i read it (in korean) everywhere. i think almost every restaurant claims to make it, although i'm sure they're all not great at it. sorry i can't help more.

        1. Well, unfortunately I can't point you in the right direction, but I can offer the clarification that from the menu, it looks like the name of this dish is dakhanmari. It may be a proprietary recipe (oddly, the English language version has a "registered trademark" icon over "dakhanmari" ... and also over "chicken."). It does sound very good.

          1. "Dakhanmari" is not really the name of the dish. It literally means "one chicken" in Korean. So ordering it by name will get you what you want in that restaurant, but of course will be the same as saying "give me one chicken please" anywhere else.

            I'll have to agree with awl. I think your restaurant has done their own thing with the classic Korean soup "sam-gye-tang" which is at its most basic a chicken soup comprised of a full chicken, garlic, ginseng, onion, and dates. I think your best bet is to seek out a good samgyetang place in Ktown and try to approximate the dipping sauce on your own.

            1. i just got off the phone with my um-ah and she has never heard of it :( however, she's going to ask around and we'll see what she digs up.

                1. After reading your post, I was very curious, sounded so good, I had to go and do some research. The closest I found is to be Ginger or Ginseng Chicken Soup, very popular in Korea. If that's what it is I am sure you can find it at Korean Restaurants, and what I think is that the restaurant you mention in Korea has its own variation of it.
                  You can see lots of pictures of it in Korean Restaurants, taken in Korea, at Flickr. Looks really good too.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lvgoodfood


                    That's what sam gye tang is, as explained in previous posts.

                  2. Thanks, everyone, for all of your input, but if dakhanmari is a variant of samgyetang, it's so far from its origins that it has become a whole new thing. I've had samgyetang, both in Korea and here in the States. Dakhanmari is different in a number of ways: For one thing, the chickens are much larger (guessing 2-3 lbs) than the cornish game hens usually used in samgyetang. For another, the chicken in samgyetang is usually (in my experience) cooked whole, stuffed with rice. and, as PapaSlurp has pointed out, dates (or jujubes) are used in the broth. No rice and no dates are used in dakhanmari, and the seasoning seems to be entirely different. If you can read Korean, please check out the Korean language version of Wonjodak's website (http://www.wonjodak.com ). It has pictures, and maybe it gives more information than the English language version (also with pictures) does. If so, MAYBE SOME LOCAL KOREAN RESTAURANT MIGHT BE WILLING TO TRY SERVING IT (?) The actual recommended sauce recipe DOES appear on the English website, so it must be on the Korean website, as well. KEEP ON TRYING. THIS IS A GREAT DISH, WELL WORTH FINDING IF ANYBODY HAS IT

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bagdoodle

                      "If you can read Korean, please check out the Korean language version of Wonjodak's website"

                      You can see the dates on #3, "ginseng dakhanmari". Looks like all the recipies are based on a tweaked/partially deconstructed samgyetang. You're not going to find this "dish" anywhere else - clearly one lady with her own personal recipe started her own shop.

                      As far as getting another Korean restaurant to try to replicate it - I think it'd be easier to make it yourself through trial and error. I'm not sure anyone walking in to any ethnic family restaurant asking them to tweak their recipe to match something they tasted in the motherland is going to be very welcome - let alone someone who can't speak their native language. Imagine trying to convince an Italian guy how he should change up his family-recipe alfredo sauce because of something you tried on vaca in Florence.

                    2. I don't know of any restaurants in K-town (Los Angeles) that serve this kind of dish. However, I ate at a Spicy Chicken Stew Place (Dak Dori Tang), that was quite tasty. They also take orders in the quantity of chickens you want, they have "To jong dak", if that makes a difference. The stew is spicy and afterwards they mix rice to make bok um bap. I can't remember the name of this place, but it is near 3rd and Oxford, if you go east on 3rd pass Oxford, the restaurant is on the right hand side before Serrano. The only parking is street parking. It is a hole in the wall restaurant with 5 tables.