Mandarin House for Koreatown jia jang mian?
Please help: I'm in LA this weekend and have a serious craving for jia jang mian! I used to live in Seoul and have fond memories of this dish. I know Jonathan Gold says Mandarin House is the place to go but his recs are often out of date, sometimes a bit overenthusiastic. And looking at the Chowhound exchanges like this one -- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6907... there seems to be some dissension. Homemade noodles would be great, and a thick rich sauce is a must.
I think I just found my favorite place for jia jian mien in Koreatown (or at least west of downtown LA).
Try it at Hao Chi Kitchen China Bistro (aka Jinheungkag). It's a self-advertised Korean-Chinese restaurant. It's called "Black Bean Sauce Noodle" on the menu, and it comes in a big bowl with fresh hand-made noodles, and a nice thick sauce that makes you think you are peering into the Heart of Darkness.
Good stuff, give it a try if you're in the 'hood. Not a destination place, but still very good.
(For those that are Mandarin speakers, the "pinying" of the English name of this place ("Hao Chi") should have a nice ring to it.)
Hao Chi Kitchen China Bistro
3280 W 6th Street
I was disappointed by Mandarin House's version too. I found it to be a little soupy. My favorite version so far is the one at Malan (with thick noodles). In fact, all of my favorite versions have been the Chinese kind.
I've actually talked to a few Korean friends about this, and they mainly scoff at the notion that I would like the Chinese version better. Then I ask them where to get a great Korean version, and they all shrug, look away, then say, "let me think about it."
So, I'm still on the hunt for a great Korean version. Maybe I'll have to try King Dragon. But It would be really convenient if I could find one in Koreatown.
The best place in Koreatown for ja jang myun is at the Dragon on Vermont right across the street from Park's on Vermont. Not soupy, the noodles are good and their other dishes are very good - gam ppong sae woo and tangsuyuk. This place is more expensive because it is very upscale.
Another good option is the restaurant inside of the Plaza Market on Western. This is a much more affordable option and very good as well.
I am Korean and understand the scoffing at the Chinese version. The sauce used in the Korean and Chinese versions of the dish is similar but distinctly different. I think the Chinese version at some places in SGV is very good but not the same flavor and style that Korean people are used to. It's a comfort food type dish that I've been eating since I can remember so that sense of nostalgia is part of the dish for me.
I think the best jia jiang mien is in SGV, not Koreatown.
If you're willing to travel east, I would recommend Dean Sin World, Beijing Pie House (or Canton Gourmet and Bakery) or Dai Ho.
Ding's was good, but now closed.
Dai Ho Restaurant
9148 Las Tunas Dr, Temple City, CA 91780
Dean Sin World
306 N Garfield Ave # 2, Monterey Park, CA
Thanks for steering me clear. We ended up having a perfectly nice meal at Young King, at 3100 W. Olympic -- solid jia jang mian (not spectacular, but really not meant to be, right?), very good pork tangsuyuk, fresh, stir-fried snow peas and water chestnuts, and a basic but tasty, sweetish kimchi for panchan. Good vibe, super nice people running the place, and filled with lots of Korean families passing the soju. Oh, and the bill was $25 for two. This is why I love visiting LA!
I was disappointed with Mandarin House's ja jang myun, but I haven't heard of or found anyplace better. Their ja jang seems to have a lot of corn starch (or similar), and the noodles are nothing special.
My favorite place for ja jang was in NYC when I lived there in the 1990's. Not sure if it's still there.