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Korean food for visiting Koreans who have been starved of good Korean food the last 4 months

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Here's the scenario................

We will be hosting a Korean exchange student who has been stuck in South Dakota for the last 4 months. She's flying to LA on June 2 and is eagerly anticipating a taste of home.

I know that I could take her to any place on my regular Korean rotation, which for the record includes:

Soot Bull Jeep
Tahoe Galbi
Beverly Soontofu
That other soontufu place across from BST with the raw crab panchan
That dolsot bibimbap place next to the place with the raw crab
Sa Rit Gol

and my not-so-regular rotation:
Yongsusan
Park's BBQ

She claims to love all Korean food, and at this point is so desperate for anything vaguely kimchi flavored that she'd probably scarf down Woo Lae Oak and proclaim it delectable.

However, I would really love to show her a wonderful experience that will not just satisfy her palate but leave her feeling as if she's been back home.

My gut reaction is Sa Rit Gol (for the extremely Korean ambiance as much as for the black cod jigae, bbq, glorious panchan, etc). I the fact that SRG has a large, diverse menu that she could pick her favorites from (though I realize that the best Korean restaurants tend to specialize).

I'm extremely open to suggestions as this would be a great experience for me also, to break out of my old standbys and try something different. (Though it doesn't have to be...)

Thanks for your ideas and opinions, 'hounds

Mr Taster

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  1. Maybe you can take her to Gui Il Bun Ji. It's an AYCE spot and it's $16.99pp since I last went. The food is good and difficult to communicate without taking someone who speaks Korean.

    http://pinkfoodie.blogspot.com

    1. Ditch Soot Bull Jeep for Park's or Shik Do Rak or Cham Sut Gol (in that order)
      That tofu place is So Kong Dong and I'd pick that over Beverly
      The bibimbap place is Jeon Ju - I'd go to KT plaza over Jeon Ju
      Ham Hung for bibim naeng myun
      Ho Won Dang in KT Galleria for some precious (expensive) Korean rice cakes
      For a quick dessert - there's a truck in the HK market parking lot (or is it the California Market parking lot) that sells ho dduk (sweet rice pancakes with sugary filling)

      Or take her to the Koreatown Plaza and let her pick... Chew Young Roo has great comforting Korean buns and Gamja Bawi has a good selection of many Korean classics.

      5 Replies
      1. re: soniabegonia

        The ho duk truck is in the California Market parking lot!

        1. re: crystaw

          Ho Duk Truck isn't there anymore.
          :(

        2. re: soniabegonia

          Park's supposedly has great bibim naeg myun, too. Really curious to try the bibimbap at K-Town plaza. Which place would you suggest in the food court?

          PS: Skip YongSusan.

          1. re: a_and_w

            They have great mul naengmyon... not a huge fan of their bibim naengmyon and I can't put my finger on why.

            1. re: a_and_w

              bibimbap at Gamja Bawi. Be sure to get it in dol sot. it's my go-to for dolsot bibimbap. I'm also fond of their black cod dish (eun dae gu jo rim).

          2. I'm not Korean, and this could be straight blasphemous for all I know, but if I wanted to give someone that just like home feeling, I would probably do it at Beverly Soontofu.

            Do Koreans really eat that BBQ kinda stuff at home? It's like, foreigners might associate American food with hamburgers and hot dogs, but when was the last time you ate that at home?

            Sorry, nothing much to add other than that... my regular Korean rotation is pretty much the same as yours. Maybe for a taste-of-home experience, you could take her to OB Bear or Prince later on.

            2 Replies
            1. re: andytseng

              Koreans do indeed eat bbq at home. The main difference I remember growing up is that all the kalbi we ate was "LA style," meaning rib-eye cuts.

              1. re: a_and_w

                While Koreans living in Korea do eat some bbq at home, it's not all that frequent, as they tend to eat a lot of fish and pork.

                Most Korean kitchens are small and don't have ovens so you have to pan-fry or use a tabletop cooking stove with grill pan. As such, bulgogi is probably more common than kalbi when cooking at home.

                Beef in Korea is expensive, so it usually just cheaper and more convenient to go out to bbq that do it at home.

                Many Koreans who come to the States can't believe how cheap beef can be in a non-regulated market and go nuts when they realize it's cheap and easy to do at home. Especially when you live in LA and can grill 90% of the year.

            2. Hi Taster
              My favorites in addition to some you have mentioned are:
              Ham Ji Park (pork ribs, soup of pork neck and potato)
              Kabawoo House (Bossam and seafood pancakes).

              For the longest time I have been meaning to go to
              the Goat Stew/Soup/Fried rice place, CHin Go Gae.
              http://www.yelp.com/biz/chin-go-gae-l...

              1. So Kong Dong over Beverly for soon dubu
                Chin go gae - goat stew, at the end before the broth sizzles away make sure you get the waiter to add the rice and the gim to make the most amazing fried rice
                Ham ji park - gam ja tang -potato pork neck soup, ribs are good too
                Yoo chun- it's getting hot and some nice chik mool neng myun (cold noodle soup) would be perfect on hot summer day
                Dansungsa - for soju and anju
                kobawoo - bossam (pork belly wrapped in cabbage amongst other things), also good pajun (korean pancakes)
                Corner place - another cold noodle tangy soup (dong chi mi gook so) with some decent DIY bbq. Complements each other perfectly. be careful of the portions of the dong chi mi b/c the large bowl is ginormous
                a-won - hwae do bap (mixed sashimi salad rice) - yum
                Parks would be the only place i would want to go for bbq. Make sure it's on a weekend where they won't skimp on the banchan

                5 Replies
                1. re: peppermonkey

                  i second dansungsa. going in there feels like being transported to korea.

                  1. re: esquimeaux

                    I think we might have a winner in dansungsa.....

                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      Yeah. Another vote for Dansungsa, definitely. Although they have English menus now, which is obviously irrelevant to her, but makes the experience slightly less mysterious and fun for me.

                      1. re: noahbites

                        Just thought I'd post a link for future reference, since there are apparently different spellings of "Dan Sung Sa."

                        Here's a recent thread on the place: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/601468

                        -----
                        Dan Sung SA
                        3317 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

                  2. re: peppermonkey

                    also if they want something from home: there's kyochon and red mango.
                    and i think you should have them try kogi and see how they like it for fun

                  3. Toad House? (Pork only)

                    1. some of many good choices :) altho i think tahoe isn't very good and would do woo lae oak over it anyday (woo lae ok may be a bit americanized for the non-korean palette, but it's still "authentic" in wat matters and it's pretty good... (altho things may have changed as i haven't been since the ktown loc closed down years ago)...that and cho sun actually used to be my faves wen i was lil but then cho sun grew 10fold and the taste that i loved back then is now nowhere near. watever u do, don't take her to a food court or AYCE spot (unless she specifically requests so).. there's just a plethora of yummy korean places in LA and of so many diff specialties.. no need for a food court or AYCE place where the quality isn't up to par. have fun, mr. taster!! i'm sure she'll love the taste of home~

                      1. Chung Ki Wa on Olympic near Wilton has a fairly good selection of meats for BBQ. Some of their panchan offerings are very good. The japchae's pretty good, too.

                        1. I really enjoy Park's. The quality of the meat can't be beat.

                          1. Kang Nam on Olympic and Crenshaw. Most of the clientale there are Korean. I know for a fact that Korean politicians and diplomats go to that place when they are in LA, that's gotta say something about the place.

                            -----
                            Kang Nam Restaurant
                            4103 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: martiniman

                              http://www.laweekly.com/2004-02-05/ea...

                            2. Ham Hung on 8th and Ardmore for hwe naeng myun and soon dae
                              Chil Bo Myun Oak for galbi tang and their dduk galbi jjim
                              Han Bat for sulungtang

                              1. Stuck in SD?

                                Then take her to the edge of the Pacific Ocean at the Redondo Beach Pier, bask in our non-snowy SoCal weather, and throw down some serious Korean-style fresh seafood at Pacific Fish Center!