You can have a great experience at A-Won Japanese Restaurant in Koreatown if you arrive with the right expectations. First, you have to realize that even though the sign out front claims that A-Won is a Japanese restaurant, it is not that at all. In fact, A-Won is a Korean restaurant that serves Japanese food made by and for Koreans.
This means that A-Won’s best dishes aren’t the sushi omakase; the really outstanding menu options are those that offer a distinctively Korean take on sushi, Jerome says.
A-Won is not the place to order sushi by the piece, nor is it where you go for sophisticated omakase. “Think of it as a substitute for a place where you’d demand a spicy tuna roll, not [as] a temple of traditional Japanese sushi and sashimi,” Jerome says. “If you go expecting the latter, you will be angry, disappointed and motivated to flame online. But if you go with the former in mind, you’ll have a deliriously good time and want to go back immediately.”
One of the things on your must-eat list is the hwe dup bap, “the ultimate fresh tasting spicy tuna roll of your dreams,” Jerome says. The dish is prepared with shredded lettuce mixed with pieces of raw fish, warm rice, carrots, and a lovely sweet-and-spicy sauce, all tossed heartily by the server. The raw fish is of a lower grade than you’d want for the traditional sashimi approach, but it works superbly in this spicy seafood salad. And don’t skip the al bap: an assortment of fish roe, sesame, and seasonings on rice, beautifully presented and then tossed together.
Finally, Clyde recommends A-Won’s outstanding cooked mackerel.
A-Won Japanese Restaurant [Koreatown]
913 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles