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best general korean menu?

guseats Jun 8, 2008 05:32 PM

I'm Korean and love eating at my favorite ktown and OC restaurants for specific food items: tofu stew, black cod, pork, bibimbab, bbq, porridge, noodles, etc, etc. Generally when we go out to eat it's for a specific dish + banchan.

But if you ask me where to go for a menu that offers a variety of Korean dishes I can only think of Hodori, and I stopped going there years ago, my go to place closed down a few years ago and I haven't been able to find a replacement since.

I would love any suggestions you might have!

  1. e
    esquimeaux Jun 15, 2008 01:46 PM

    the chun ju place on sixth everyone's mentioning is the bomb, specializing in a variety of homestyle chigaes. hits the spot!

    my favorite "all purpose" korean place is sonamu on wilshire and kingsley.

    going to hodori is like going to del taco for mexican.

    1. l
      Lau Jun 15, 2008 10:54 AM

      i agree with the posts that you should try the specialist restaurants...i mean here's a quick list, there are many many more restaurants (you can get the addresses on yelp)
      - soon doo bu (a spicy soft korean tofu stew, very popular and good): 1) beverly soon tofu restuarant 2) so kong dong
      - bbq: 1) park's 2) soot bull jeep
      - kkot gae tang (spicy crab stew...soo awesome): 1) Ondal 2 (one of my absolute favorites in ktown)
      - naeng myun (cold noodle soup, very refreshing): 1) u chun (on 7th, part of an apt building) 2) yu chun (one on 6th and one on olympic)
      - general: 1) sa rit gol
      - bo ssam (pork belly, that you wrap in cabbage and put condiments in): 1) kobawoo house
      - suh long tang (oxtail soup): 1) han bat sul lung tang
      - kal gook soo (chicken noodle soup): 1) ma dang gook soo
      - nakji bokeum (stir fried octopus in spicy sauce): 1) nakzi village
      - chinese-korean (korean take on some northern chinese dishes): 1) young king, i like their young king beef 2) mandarin house (i haven't actually eaten here, but i heard their jja jang myun is good)

      1. Das Ubergeek Jun 14, 2008 05:11 PM

        I can't really think of anyplace but Hodori and Kobawoo that have more than a couple of specialities (and Hodori, as has been said, is only possible when it's 3:30 AM, you're absolutely sloshed to the rim on fruity soju drinks, or you're 19).

        Park's BBQ, though, has an excellent haemul pa'jeon (seafood pancake) and very good naengmyon.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Das Ubergeek
          lil mikey Jun 14, 2008 05:37 PM

          Agree. Good naengmyon (cold soup) at Park's. They also have good KBBQ galbi. I didn't get the seafood pancake.

          1. re: lil mikey
            Das Ubergeek Jun 14, 2008 05:51 PM

            Note, however, that you will have to ask explicitly for mustard and vinegar for your naengmyon, whereas at Shik Do Rak (another KBBQ place with excellent naengmyon) you get it without asking.

        2. lil mikey Jun 14, 2008 04:55 PM

          If you want a variety at one place, Yong Su San has several set menus with 6-10 different items on them. It's a little pricey as far as Korean places go, but the quality is good.

          Yong Su San Restaurant
          950 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90006

          1. b
            Ben is eating Jun 14, 2008 04:29 PM

            Chunju Han-il Kwan 350W. Sixth St.. Open 24 hrs
            They have real Budae JJigae, Gamjatang, Soontofu,Mandu,pancakes of all varieties and meats.

            1. badseed Jun 11, 2008 01:22 AM

              Mapo Restaurant has become one of my favorites over the past year. It's pretty sparce in a nondescript strip mall on sixth st but I think it has really good solid korean food.
              I especially like the fish (gajami, mackerel) and the banchan is always very fresh but unfortunately not very spicy. Their bibimbap is good as is their soups. It just seems like they are using good, fresh ingredients.

              Ma PO Restaurant
              3611 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

              1. martiniman Jun 9, 2008 08:33 PM

                I have been curious about Park's and will try later. Not really a fan of Chosun Kalbi...the place is too overrated IMO. But I'm telling you guys if you want to go to a Korean restaurant where generally all the food is good, Kang Nam on Olympic and Crenshaw is the place to go. All the native Koreans I know love this place and people in Korean know about it. What I love about the place is the spread of side dishes they give you.

                If you have never really had Korean food, you always first try the standard fare such as the BBQ meats (Kabli, Boolgogi, etc). Next thing you should try is the Bibimbahp which is rice topped with various vegetables, some meat, egg, and hot sauce. For a noodle dish, you gotta have Naengmyun, which is served cold and popular during the summer. Then after that you can try one of those chiggaes (kimchee or daenjang stew) which is a staple in a Korean diet.

                1 Reply
                1. re: martiniman
                  guseats Jun 10, 2008 10:22 AM

                  Agreed with martiniman. I think one of the best noodle dishes for winter though is kalgooksoo (or knife cut noodles) - if you get the chicken version, it's like asian chicken noodle soup and an incredible comfort food.

                2. g
                  guseats Jun 9, 2008 05:19 PM

                  Wow, great thanks for your suggestions (and also echoes of for help)! I'll definitely check out your recommendations.

                  To answer some questions:

                  - Sa Rit Gol used to be one of my favorite places, but their price hikes have kept me away. (Though when I want black cod I go there, and their banchan in general has been fantastic)

                  - Not really a fan of Hodori either, but it was a staple of college years because of it's hours and very broad menu that could accommodate a large group's variety of taste. I think what I'm looking for is a Hodori for grown ups with better taste.

                  - Re the range of items: I think something that's got a variety of categories rice, soup/stew, noodles, some meat/bbq, appetizers (pancakes), and good banchan is what I'm looking for. (Might be too much to ask!)

                  - Basically, I want a general purpose menu because I'm increasingly finding myself meeting up with fairly large groups (6 -8) of people who want to get together either because they're in town for weddings, business, haven't seen each other in a while. These groups tend to be comprised of a wide range of tastes some wanting rice, some wanting vegetarian options, some wanting bbq, and some wanting noodles.

                  - To the beginners in Korean food (aliris, jen10), most people will tell you that the best way to eat korean food is at places that specialize. CostcoWater has some good suggestions that are good for beginners (though Park's and Tofu Village are newer places that make life a bit easier for English speakers I find them a bit sterile and pricey for my taste. Tofu Village though gives a really large variety of banchan which is great.)

                  1. c
                    CostcoWater Jun 9, 2008 04:56 PM

                    Koreatown local here to the rescue..

                    It's my personal belief that one should only frequent Korean restaurants that "specializes" in a certain dish.

                    For example,

                    Tofu stew "soon tofu" = Tofu Village( relatively new, blows BCD away..12 banchans!)
                    Noodles = Ma dang gook soo (best koran chicken noodle soup in ktown)
                    BBQ = Park's BBQ
                    AYCE BBQ = Gui Mok
                    bibimbap/black cod = Mapo restaurant

                    give me a menu and i can go on all day..

                    Anyhow, I guess occasion arise when you need a restaurant to meet everyone in your partie's needs..

                    BUT..Hodori is definately not the place...Like someone mentioned above, only reason to go to Hodori is when you happen to be in Ktown after hours, after many bottles of soju

                    Sa rit gol is a decent recommendation, but it seems like the quality and the taste has been falling a bit as of late.

                    Kobawoo is also on of my fav places, but the only reason to go to Kobawoo is for their "bossam"

                    My fav place for a all around"homestyle" Korean meal is Chunju han il gwan at the moment, little place tucked away in a small shopping strip on 6th st. Everything I've had at this place is so far excellent, and I'm hard person to please when it comes down to Korean cooking.

                    Mapo restaurant is also a excellent place that offers a variety of dishes, but it;s bit small to cater to a big grp. Great place for lunch

                    So many places to eat in Ktown it can get overwhelming at times.
                    Visit www.ktownlove.com for some info on the restaurants in ktown.
                    It's basically a Koreatown business directory. Neat site where you can search restaurants by food items, keywords etc.

                    1. s
                      specialist Jun 9, 2008 03:23 PM

                      Hodori sucks unless you're out at 2am and really want Korean. Chosun is a good bet for a variety of high quality dishes. Except for their bibimbap, everything I've had there (including banchan) is very good.

                      1. m
                        mlgb Jun 9, 2008 10:32 AM

                        Have you tried Surah in Buena Park?

                        5333 Beach Blvd, Buena Park, CA 90621

                        1. n
                          namstermonster Jun 9, 2008 10:02 AM

                          yes plz... hodori is a 24hr place more frequented by underage clubbers (used to go myself back in hs and early college yrs). that being said, it should not be a place you go to during regular hrs or even off hrs as there are plenty places open late that serve better grub. :)

                          1. c
                            chon76 Jun 9, 2008 08:26 AM

                            it's funny - my husband and i were talking about this very topic this weekend and ended up at hodori :( it did the job but i don't want that to be my standard drop-in general korean restaurant.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: chon76
                              TonyC Jun 9, 2008 09:59 AM

                              Kobawoo's menu's especially narrow. you get the haemul pajeon, you get the bossam, you get the eun dae gu jo rim, and that's it. no one else orders anything but those 3 there.

                              Hodori/Nak-won offers everything... but it's all pretty bad so...

                              may I suggest the food courts @ the Galleria? or Wilshire Center? all the food stalls are focused on certain items only, majority have pictures, it should be perfect for n00bs.

                              1. re: TonyC
                                another_adam Jun 9, 2008 03:34 PM

                                I dunno, I've had some decent other things at Kobawoo (I've had some good maeun tang there, for instance) I guess I was indeed thinking of it as a good place to get an introduction to a couple key "friendly" dishes, though, since the haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) is usually good (though falling apart), and they have dolsot bibimbap, and various soups. I've never had good luck with stir fried dishes like nakji bokkeum or ojingeo bokkeum (pan-fried octopus or squid) there, though, so I'd go elsewhere for those...

                            2. JEN10 Jun 9, 2008 07:04 AM

                              I have to totaly agree with you. I would love to try Korean food, but am at a loss as to what is what. It all sounds and looks so good. The Tony Bourdain special got me a wonderin and droolin.

                              1. a
                                aliris Jun 8, 2008 09:55 PM

                                Thanks for this thread. I've long wanted to learn more about Korean food, but it's kind of hard to bootstrap -- there's so much! And when I drive down Western it's just overwhelming; no idea where to just stop in and then I'm gone ....

                                Any suggestions for a beginner's tasting menu?


                                1. a
                                  another_adam Jun 8, 2008 08:30 PM

                                  How broad a range do you need? THough I'm also generally not in the market for general purpose restaurants, I can think of some places that have good bibimbap and also soups, or good noodles and also jjigaes, or some combination like that...

                                  Anyway, for truly general, I guess this is sort of a predictable response, but how about Sa Rit Gol, on Olympic? Good selection of soups, fish, ssambap, etc. (I think their lunch and dinner menus are different)

                                  Also, a second for Kobawoo-- not the first place I'd go for any of these items in particular, but I've generally found them decent on some standard things. (I should point out that I haven't been there in quite some time, though, and the last time I went, everything was kind of off... but I'm willing to believe it was just an off night)

                                  Sa Rit Gol
                                  3189 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: another_adam
                                    trishyb Jun 8, 2008 09:18 PM

                                    Second Sa Rit Gol, especially for the black cod and daikon stewed in spicy soy. They also serve a really excellent mung bean pancake. Soups are good, as well. Very homemade tasting food.

                                  2. s
                                    Sandra W Jun 8, 2008 07:45 PM

                                    Kobawoo. Vermont south of Wilshire. Great seafood pancake, acorn noodles, bosam, bibimbap, etc.

                                    1. martiniman Jun 8, 2008 06:57 PM

                                      I'm not really a fan of Hodori. My favorite Korean restaurant is Kang Nam on Olympic/Crenshaw. Aside from the BBQ meats, I really love the Bibim Bahp, Naengmyuns, and Chigaes.

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