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Mar 5, 2007 09:57 PM

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 (, 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. The original comment has been removed
          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.