Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Old School Korean Trio: Dong Il Jang, Ham Hung, and Jeonju

I walked into Dong Il Jang and thought to myself, “Holy crap! This looks like a place that my grandparents used to go to.” I looked around, and sure enough, other people’s grandparents were there. It was nice to see a retro place that hasn’t yet been colonized by trendoids.

Dong Il Jang has a fairly well rounded menu with all of the Korean classics, but the specialty of the house is the “Roast Gui”:


While many covet the Roast Gui, I felt that it was dullsville compared to what you can get at other Korean barbeque places. While the fatty pieces were just ok, the leaner pieces had a very dry and unpleasant texture to them. Instead of getting nice and brown most of the meat cooked up watery and grey.

But this insipid foreplay had to be endured before my happy ending: Kimchee Fried Rice. The fried rice was as great as the Roast Gui was bad. Kimchee, rib-eye trimmings, and whatever was leftover of our daikon radish panchan was cooked with rice in the Roast Gui scraps:






Ham Hung is another old school Korean with many classics on the menu but they specialize in Naeng Myun, or cold buckwheat noodles in very cold broth. This has been the only Korean restaurant in which I have felt like yanki-nom (the Korean version of gwailo) since we were heavily induced to order the noodle/kabli combo; yes, we probably could have ordered something else but I have a feeling that we would have ended up with the combo anyway, and I noticed that we hardly got any panchan compared to the other tables.




I ordered the Bibim Naeng Myun which is dry cold noodles in a sweet spicy chili sauce. It was good as was the Kalbi. Raven ordered the Mul Neng Myun, and though she says that it was very good, it looked very pallid: the noodles seemed to be more grey than the nice rich deep brown that I am used to.

Jeonju is one of the best mom ‘n’ pop dives in Koreatown. You’ll never find this place unless you already know where it is (or can read Korean); it’s located in the same mini-mall as Sokongdong.


Jeonju is known for their Dol Sot Bimbibap. You can get three kinds: beef, kimchee and beef, or seafood. It’s great when everyone at the table orders the bibimbap so that you can hear a chorus of the sizzling rice.


The Bibimbap is pretty good but I go crazy for their Jo Gee Gui (whole fried Yellow Corvina fish). The fish is simplicity at it’s best. While eating it, I was singing The Cat’s song from Red Dwarf:

I’m gonna eat you little fishie
I’m gonna eat you little fishie
I’m gonna eat you little fishie
‘Cause I like eating fish!



I got my comeuppance a few days later when a big mean raccoon ate my fish out of the pond in the backyard.

Although I haven’t had them, the jigae look really good. Next time it’s more Jo Gee Gui and some kimchee jigae for me.


Dong Il Jang
3455 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Ham Hung
809 S. Ardmore Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90005

Jeonju
2716 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

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15 Comments:

Blogger sku said...

Great report, two of my favorites (DIJ and JJ) and one I'll have to try. Loved the video of kimchi fried rice in action.

My take on Ros Gui is not to let it brown; eat it rare, while it's still bloody and oozing...good stuff.

I also like the soups at Jeon Ju.

8:18 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I agree on many things you said, I believe Dong Il Jang is not one of the best place to have Korean food. Sure it's clean and their beef dishes are good for BBQ but there are so many more places in Korean-town than there.

Loved the description on bibim bop and your little fishy song...haha..cute.

I'll take you out one of these days to a cool BBQ place for a dinner next time at 6th and Oxford where they cook in front of you on a skillet and make fried rice after the BBQ.

cy.

5:33 PM

 
Anonymous Raven said...

We do need to do Jeon Ju again for a jigae. They had so many that sounded delicious.

5:24 PM

 
Blogger sku said...

On another note, I finally got out to Vietnamese Soy Cafe after being thwarted by their limited hours a couple of times.

The sardine sandwich is wonderful. Great sardine taste, not overly fishy, and great, crisp bread.

Thanks for the rec!

3:57 PM

 
Anonymous Culinany said...

Nice blog, very informative contents. I also got similar to this one, would you mind if I ask you for a link exchange? Regards...

6:41 AM

 
Anonymous Sarah said...

Is that a big hunk of butter on the beef? I've never seen that before (of course, my experience with Korean restaurants is pretty limited). Also, I thought my husband was the only person this side of the pond who watches Red Dwarf. Chili Chutney Fried Egg sandwiches all around!

6:39 AM

 
Blogger eatdrinknbmerry said...

Hi BV, thanks so much for posting on these restaurants. Ever since moving into the Slake area, I've made it a goal to really absorb the culinary gems of Koreatown. Which of the three is the best?

Oh and have you ever been to Han Bat on western/5th. It's my favorite place for sol long tang (beef bone soup). You won't believe the wonders it does when you're hanging over.

11:12 AM

 
Blogger Bon Vivant said...

sku: thanks for the tip re the Roast Gui. Glad that you liked Vietnamese Soycafe. Viet is opening up another branch in Atwater which probably will have an extended menu.

cy: Just keep taking me out to Roy's! :-)

Raven: Yeah, I am jo gee guied out.

culinary: Let me think about it.

Sarah: Red Dwarf is brilliant. I love the fact that an cat evolves into a vain, well groomed, and selfish being - go figure?

eatdrinknbemerry: I think of those three I like Jeonju the best. I know many a Korean who will not go near that beef bone soup. You, like my mother, eat that cucina poveri (poor folk cuisine) stuff.

5:42 PM

 
Blogger eatdrinknbmerry said...

i'm confused, are you korean or italian? both?

12:24 PM

 
Blogger Bon Vivant said...

I am Italian (and Swedish but no one ever tells me that I'm a nice Swedish girl or a great Swedish cook!)

La Cucina Povera in Italy is pretty much the same in every other country: neck bones, intestines, feet, etc. Totally underrated stuff in my opinion.

11:18 AM

 
Anonymous Judy said...

Jeonju?
Why Erica, you know more places than I do. We've got to go there!

9:50 AM

 
Anonymous The Cooking Ninja said...

I'm so going to get myself some Korean food once I'm in Singapore.

6:29 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you please let us know what is the dish's name in the sixth photo posted on this page? It looks like white soft tofu covered by green onion.

3:31 PM

 
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