Thursday, July 13, 2006

Farmer's Market: La Korea Korean BBQ

I'm starting to enter the second level of Farmer's Market stands -- the less-than-obvious places that aren't recommended as often as Loteria and Singapore Banana Leaf, but there might be some undiscovered gems in there, so let's dive in.
Some of you know that when it comes to Korean food, I'm not quite a virgin, but I still haven't had that many good Korean experiences. Clearly I need a tender, gentle lover of Korean food to show me the way... Anyway, I just had Korean barbecue last week at a place that is better not named (oh ok, it was called Nam Dae Moon Jip), so at La Korea, I decided to try the bibimbap instead ($6.99). Bibimbap is a huge bowl with warm rice on the bottom (brown rice is available!), a carefully-arrayed assorted of julienned and sauteed veggies on top -- spinach, mushrooms, carrots, topped with a mildly spicy soy-based sauce. On top, you can get tofu, chicken, pork or beef, or just have the vegetables. I got the tofu, and it made a healthy, tasty and very filling lunch. The barbecue dishes are a pretty good deal, since each comes with three sides of dishes like glass noodles, seaweed salad or Korean slaw. Unusual Korean soft drinks are also available.
2 carts

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

My next door neighbors are Korean, and while 20% of the smells that come from their house are heavenly, a full 80% is gutwrenchingly awful. And somehow their kitchen ventilates into my guest bathroom so if the door is closed, and they're fixing dinner, it reeks to high hell in there.

(it just occurred to me that my guest bath ventilates into their kitchen! How gross... yet... vengeance!)

I think I could acutally give Korean a try if I went the tofu and brown rice route. In a well-ventilated room.

ya know, baby steps.

Pat Saperstein said...

Well, anonymous, some people might not consider that to be a very tolerant comment, but I'll leave it up for a while just to see what people say.

So, readers, where do I go for the best authentic bibambap now that I've become a fan?

Anonymous said...

I love the unagi bibimbap at Gyu-Kaku, cooked in a stone pot where the edges are crusty. The unagi is mixed in with mizuna. It's so tasty.

I also eat a more authentic bibimbap at Dong Il Jang.

KT said...

I don't know how authentic it is, and it's not even at a Korean restaurant, but I love the bibimbap at Sake House Miro. It comes to your table sizzling and they put it all together for you with the level of heat that you ask for.

They serve what is called "dolsot bibimbap" meaning it comes in a stone pot and the stone pot makes the outside layer of rice all crunchy and delicious. Heaven.

I'm sure there is better in L.A., but I don't get out to Korean all that often. You might say barely ever, so this is the best I have had.

The bibimbap at Gyu Kaku was very good as well, and if I recall, was also of the stone pot variety.

tannaz said...

I like the bibimbap at LA Korea simply because it's perfect when I'm looking for a simple, wholesome meal. However, I agree - the stone pot makes all the difference -- the sizzly sound, the crusty bits at the bottom, and the egg that magically gets fried from the heat.

So -- I agree with kt -- the bibimbap at Sake House is pretty good (especially for a puported Japanese restaurant!), and comes so hot it once actually burned through the wood plate they brought it to the table on. Also, Wharo in Marina Del Rey has a pretty delicious rendition.

Pat Saperstein said...

Great, I can't wait to try it at Sake House Miro, because it's right near my office and closer than any real Korean restaurants. I'll report back soon.

Santos said...

i recommend skipping the bibimbap at BCD tofu house. it's just okay.

it should also be mentioned that la korea will grill any selection of meat bought at marconda's meats next door to it; i recall at some point it was a free service, but that might not be true now. i haven't actually had it done, but i did sample someone's steak, and they did a very good job of it.

paula said...

While this comment is not about noodles and such, it is about a GREAT Korean BBQ Panini at the Silverlake coffee co. next to gingergrass. They make it fresh for you,and its served with a side salad of baby greens (get the sesame dressing) Try one, you can't go wrong...

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Anonymous said...

There is a hole in the wall place on 6th and Normandie in Koreatown called Mapo Kkapdoogi and they have the best dolsot bibimbap! Or you can just make your own with rice, sesame oil, red pepper paste and whatever veggies you want on it. Bibimbap literally means 'mixed rice' so anything goes.

Anonymous said...

I haven't tried Korean food at the Farmer's Market. Somehow, being Korean, I guess it just doesn't occur to me that it would be good. One of these days I must try it. But, outside of Koreatown, Korean food just isn't the same - authentic I mean - unless of course it's made by mom.

Bibimbap is always the safe way to go for those who have yet to be introduced to genuine Korean food. But there is oh-so-much more. I'm guessing that bibimbap at Japanese restaurants are only served there cuz the owners are Korean; either that, or again, the Japanese are trying to sell off something as theirs that really isn't.

I agree that sometimes Korean food does not smell all that appetizing while cooking, but I think that is because one is not familiar with what things are cooking. I have an aunt who thinks that the smell of lasagna is "gutwrenchingly awful" and she won't even hear of eating anything related to italian food. So I guess some are entitled to their opinions....

All in all, the best authentic bibimbap? I'd say anything "dolsot" is a good bibimbap, and don't forget the hot sauce. Traditionally, bibimbap is not that great without the hot sauce (the Korean red chili paste). I usually eat the one at the International Food Court in the Koreatown Plaza. Most foods at the Gamjabawi there are good.

Oh, and at BCD Tofu House, I wouldn't get anything that wasn't tofu. After all, their soon-dubu is the best thing on the menu there. Aside from Korean BBQ and bibimbap, there's another step towards plunging into a whole new world of cuisine. And it doesn't have to be spicy, although you ought to at least try the midly spicy - medium if you're brave, depending upon your spicy/hot tolerance level.

j said...

dear first anonymous poster,

we're glad that you think that 80% of korean food that your neighbor makes is "gutwrenchingly awful". we hope that you and your kind continue to think that way so that we can keep you out of our restaurants and tainting the authentic korean food by changing the recipes to suit your bland palates. as for tofu, it's not a substitue for meat.

Michelle said...

Does any one know where I can find really great authentic dolsot bibimbap in Orange County???

Anonymous said...

True Korean fare is extremely spicy, much hotter than most americans can tolerate, so in that light this is not authentic. Aside from that this is great Korean food. The Bul-go-gi is soooo good!