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Restaurants & Bars 7

Olympic Blvd in Koreatown

Stan | Jun 26, 200407:43 PM

There are quite a few Korean places on Olympic Blvd between Crenshaw and Western that I haven't seen discussed anywhere. I walked that whole stretch, visiting each place and reading menus etc.

The Sang Rok Soo Market (4027 W Olympic near Crenshaw, (323) 939-1955) is a small, super friendly Korean grocery that has some Korean pancakes and the like wrapped up by the front door. They were still hot when I got there, so I got some seasoned fish slices and ate them while walking down the street. They were a little greasy but just excellent.

Across the street is O Jang Dong Ham Hung Myun Oak (4032 W Olympic, (323) 634-9292; there's also a branch in Garden Grove). If I understand correctly the last few words in the name mean Noodle House. The name is not spelled out in Latin script on the front of the restaurant (or, for that matter, on the menu or the business cards, just on the chopstick wrapper); the Korean script is in white against a red background. It's an awkwardly decorated place that could be anything at first. They have naengmyon and barbeque and some other things. Though the menu is mostly translated into English, the final item in the barbeque section, untranslated, is barbequed octopus. Anyway, I got the barbequed marinated pork. The panchan, maybe eight of them, were good but not great. The best were these two rubbery green vegetables that I couldn't identify, I assume some kinds of seaweed. The barbequed pork was really good, spicy and moist and sitting on raw onions that complemented it excellently. I'd go back.

I had dessert at Ho Won Dang, which in my nominee for coolest chow destination in Los Angeles. It is a sweet shop on the supermarket level of the Koreatown Galleria (SE corner of Olympic and Western). It is done up in an austere style that I assume is traditional Korean, and the goods are packaged and presented in a distinctive way (no price tags, for example). At one level it's probably just a couple dozen variations on sticky rice. But some of the flavors are so alien to Western tastes that they make Fugetsu Do seem like Dunkin Donuts. I got a package that had two varieties. The tamer one consisted of wet, dumpling-like globs of sticky rice flavored with leaves that looked and tasted, of all things, like cilantro. The other one consisted of two subvarieties, sort of distant cousins of baklava, but with weird contrasting tastes that I have no idea how to describe.

I visited various other cool places, like a Korean restaurant that serves nothing but barbequed duck. Particularly cool was Kae Sung Kimchee (1010 S St Andrews Place, (323) 737-6565, which is a small shop on a side street that consists of nothing but fogged-up floor-to-ceiling refrigerators of kimchee in numerous varieties, mostly family-sized but also some in smaller plastic containers. I'm afraid I didn't get a chance to taste any.

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