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Restaurants & Bars

Gentrified porridge at Bonjuk in K-Town (review)

rameniac | Jan 29, 200710:16 PM     11

This one's for Meowmixx =). Just checked out Bonjuk in K-Town, right next door to BCD. Despite having the hardest time finding parking (note to future patron: just park in the "medical plaza" lot behind the building, the restaurant DOES validate for an hour, although you don't know that until you enter the place and see the signs posted), we sat down for a light lunch of Korean "Juk" or porridge. The first thing that shocked me was the price - the cheapest bowl of juk on the menu was $7.95, and the most expensive was $30! (the special abalone). The second was the assortment of porridge flavorings on offer, with various kinds of seafood, oysters, and even a section labled "sweet porridges" but, as the waitress explained, weren't really "sweet" but more savory with very specific flavorings and ingredients. There is one porridge that was truly sweet, she said - the pumpkin squash porridge or something. I passed on that one.

I settled for a $15.95 abalone porridge (not sure how it's different, maybe they use imitation abalone? haha) while other members in the party ordered the octopus & kimchi and the beef & mushroom. It took a while for the food to arrive (everything is apparently made to order) but when the food came we were pleasantly surprised. It's good stuff; premium quality porridge if you can really imagine such a thing. Mine had generous chunks of abalone and mushroom and my sister's octopus & kimchi was surprisingly delicious if a little spicy. Each bowl was accompanied with two kinds of kimchi (napa and clam), a chilled pickle broth with turnips and a hint of ginseng flavor, and salty shredded beef (an excellent topping for your juk). Dessert was a Korean plum juice that was truly remarkable. It's not awe-inspiring like the yuzu juice at Sushi Zo, but it's a very flavorful and unique drink that I suspect - unless you're pretty hardcore about Korean cuisine- you've never had before.

The place seemed to be quite empty and is just starting to get its footing. Tables are decked out nicely in polished dark woods and obscenely comfortable chairs that are almost too luxurious for casual dining. I was there shortly after 1pm so maybe a little late for the lunch hour crowd, but I'd definitely like to see it succeed, despite it's slightly high prices. It really is "premium quality" porridge - from the texture and quality of the rice to the fresh and generous ingredients; if you can't yet imagine what that's like, once you try it, you'll be able to tell the difference. My new favorite "healthyish" sort of place that's not far from where I live; I suspect I'll be going there fairly often.

Sorry, though. No pictures this time. Forgot my camera!

Bonjuk
3551 Wilshire
(213) 380-2248

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