Restaurants & Bars

Mapo Galbi - excellent dak kalbi (spicy korean chicken) w/ pics

Lau | Apr 26, 200908:29 PM     12

Dak kalbi is a korean chicken dish, its not the most well known dish, i don't think korean cuisine is particularly known for chicken dishes. In fact, I can only think of 3 dishes off the top my head that even use chicken (sam gae tang, dak kalbi and kal gook soo). I had no appreciation of this dish until about 4-5 years ago when i was in seoul and a friend took me to a specialist dak kalbi restaurant where i realized how good of a dish it is (one of the best meals i had in seoul and this was among many great meals). Usually its served at generalist restaurants and its this sorta spicy chicken in a sauce that is too sweet and its an after thought type dish.

Even amongst alot of korean-americans, I don't think most have any idea how good it can be. My GF was under the impression that it was just a sort of ehh dish and even her mom (potentially the best korean cook ever) was like "really there are restaurants that specialize in that?" when my GF told her where we were going

I was looking for something a little different from the normal korean restaurant i go to when im home in LA. I generally try to get things that arent available in NY (hence why i usually go to Ondal 2). I heard about Mapo Galbi a while ago and decided this was a good time to try it.

Mapo Galbi is in the heart of ktown on olympic, its hard to find if you're not looking for it b/c the big sign is in korean. The outside of the place looks pretty non-descript and run down. The interior isn't any different with a bunch of tables with large skillets in the middle of them, vents on top of the tables and generally the interior is pretty run down as well. There is a TV playing korean dramas toward the front of the restaurant. For some reason, i like these types of restaurants when it comes to asian food (i find there is a correlation between looking crappy and having good food)

Anyhow, onto the food:
- dak kalbi: we only got dak kalbi (an order is more than enough food on a per basis, we got two orders). They first throw some oil on the skillet, then they put in sliced chicken strips (no bones), strips of sweet potatoes and duk (cylinder shaped rice dough), they then add a red chili sauce all over it. They let it cook for a while then they add cabbage and sliced carrots and more chili sauce. Finally they add some sliced green onions, onions and these leaves (i forgot what they are called in korean or english, but they use them in a banchan as well). You just pick at it directly from the skillet once the cooking is done. The result is a great dish where the chicken is nice and tender (rare to find tender chicken dishes) w/ a great flavor from the chili sauce. All of the other condiments taste great. Once you're done with they make the fried rice by putting in some rice, throwing chopped up kimchi, kim (dried seaweed) and some sesame oil and mix it in with some of the chicken / chili sauce...turns out great

Overall, my GF was very pleasantly surprised and thought it was very good, I had the same reaction although wasn't quite as good as the place i went to in seoul, but it was definitely the best dak kalbi ive had in the US. It's definitely different than most korean food, so if you're a korean food fan id highly recommend going here. I'm also sort of proud of myself for actually man-ing up and coming here after eating a massive lunch at Pizzeria Mozza....i felt extremely unhealthy after eating that much food, but it was well worth it haha.

The pics are too big for chound, so check them out on yelp (i'm R.L. on yelp):
- dak kalbi: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/0uRqBR...
- fried rice: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/0uRqBR...
- step 1 in cooking process: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/0uRqBR...
- step 2 in cooking process: http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/0uRqBR...

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