ISO Al Bap
It is with great sadness that I have just learned of the closing of O Dae San. Only place I knew to get al bap -- bowl of rice covered in a gorgeous rainbow of different roe with a creamy bulls-eye sea urchin in the middle. Does anyone know of another restaurant that offers this?
I'm not sure if they have Al Bap on the menu, but I really do like Bu San's Sashimi special.
It is a seemingly endless omakase for about $50. The first time I went, they were still trying to serve us more as we were walking out of the door (and quite full!)
It usually includes a few cooked dishes as well as Uni served right out of the it's spiked shell. Blue fin tuna, yellowtail, halibut and sweet shrimp stand out as far as the fish. The one thing that was a little odd to get used to was one item that was served almost frozen to the point that it needed to thaw out a bit. (I seem to recall reading posts on this board that this is not uncommon with Korean sashimi).
The sushi chefs are pretty fun as well. Especially as they drink more throughout the evening!
Still devastated by the loss of Odaesan, and especially their al bap which was my #1 favorite meal in all of Los Angeles. We've made our own homemade facsimile a couple of times with various roes from Nijiaya market mixed with slightly sweetened sushi rice, but it's not close.
And I don't have hugely high hopes for this, but I did notice what appeared to be al bap on the menu at a new place called Gang Lung Jip, on the top floor of Koreatown Galleria, next to (but not in) the Food Court. I haven't actually seen anyone eating it there--everyone seems to be ordering big seafood stirfries, and maybe a little sushi. We haven't tried this place yet, but now that we know Odaesan has gone, we will have to give it a try. In the meantime if anyone has tried Gang Lung Jip I'd love to knpw about it.
The al bap search continues . . . we tried Gang Lung Jip for lunch today and it wasn't bad.
But what they brought when I asked the waitress if they had anything like al bap (described on the menu as "rice w/capelin roe & white radish kimchee") turned out to be more of a dolsot bibimbap kind of thing, with a smallish amount of capellin roe along with a bunch of vegetables and some mild chili sauce in a hot stone pot. The fish-egg taste was almost imperceptible, and either the pot wasn't hot enough or for some other reason the the rice never crisped up very much on the edges either.
The "boiled seafood soup" was tons of squid and octopus, a few shrimp, mussels, and clams, one or two tiny bits of crab, and some mysterious tiny crunchy objects that I never could not definitively identify as plant or mollusk, all in a mild and flavorful brown-red soup. Panchan was OK but predictable.
They made a big point of offering very sweet coffee (from a dispenser machine) AND coffee candies with the check; not clear to me why coffee would seem to go with these kinds of seafood dishes, but never mind. They have a nice-looking hwe dup bap on the menu as well as a variety of other seafood dishes, and we'll probably give it another try or two but it's definitely not a substitute for Odaesan.
Gang Lung Jip USA
3250 W Olympic Blvd Ste 305, Los Angeles, CA 90006
A-Won Japanese Restaurant
913 1/2 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006
The al bap search continued this weekend with our first trip to A Won. As others have noted, A Won is certainly no replacement for Odaesan but it wasn't bad. The al bap at A Won is called "Combo Fish Egg Bowl" on the English menu ($15.95) and it arrived as a medium-sized rice bowl with dabs of 5 or 6 different roes on the front half along with a lot of ginger and other vegetal toppings on the back half. Pretty, though no rival to the beautiful radially-patterned bowl that Odaesan used to serve up. Tasty enough, although there wasn't much of any particular roe and some of them were a little bland; I doused the last part of the bowl with some chili sauce. Still, I liked it fine and would order it again.
Again as noted by others (including Jonathan Gold) the best thing to order at A Won seems to be the hwe dup bap, in English "Assortment of Raw Fish & Vegetables over Rice." ($14.95) This comes as a huge salad bowl with fish and greens chopped up together, and rice in a separate small bowl. Although the selection of fish is a little limited (I counted 3, maybe 4 different kinds) the presentation is impressive, the greens are excellent and the dressing is delicious (and utterly unsubtle, like a particularly sweet and oily chinese chicken salad dressing). The overall result was one of the better salads we've had lately, and it was good enough as a salad that we ate most of it before even adding in any of the rice. Cynaburst pronounced it a new favorite dish.
We saw some of the other tables eating regular sushi, which looked quite, uh, regular. Instead for our third entree we ordered grilled eel ($15.95), which arrived sizzling in a sweet sauce and covered with sweet ginger. PayOrPlay Jr. loved it. We liked it too. Sometimes sweet is good!
Our only real cavil was the panchan, which was extremely limited--just 3 little plates with kimchee, spinach, and crispy radish. Although reviews mention more interesting things that may come with other orders, I didn't see anything different on other tables. (I miss the sea squirts and other weird sea beasties that would show up at Odaesan!)
On balance, we thought A-Won was a keeper. Total at A-Won with tax and tip (no alcohol), about $60. Then we finished our evening with a relaxed chat over one bing su, citron tea, and plum tea at Mr. Coffee (6th & Western). Total with tax and tip: about $25. That's right, dessert for one was almost half as much as dinner for three. (But we love Mr. Coffee anyway, although this time we thought the bing su was a bit oversaturated with sickly strawberry syrup this time--like Forrest Gump's chocolates, we find that you never know what you're gonna get at any of the K-Town bing su parlors).
There's a menu, with prices, at menupages http://losangeles.menupages.com/resta...
Next time, maybe we'll go for the "Fish Organ Soup."
And the al bap search goes on. I wonder if other K-Town sushi places like Arado might have it too. And someone mentioned seeing it on the menu at the new Koba on Sawtelle & National--we didn't notice it when we were there, but we'll go back and see.