Dongbu Live Fish is a small, family-run hwal uh restaurant tucked away in the back corner of a Rowland Heights strip mall. In Korean culture, hwal uh refers to the centuries old practice of serving thinly sliced portions of fresh raw meats or fish. Upon walking into Dongbu Live Fish and seeing the large irrigated saltwater tanks stocked with live fish, mollusks and crustaceans, I knew that I was in good hands.
Although the menu offers other options, I remained fixated on their signature hwal uh sashimi – live halibut prepared and served with all the trimmings and offered in four sizes from x-small ($35) to large ($110). My dining companion and I settled on the small ($65), more than enough to feed two hungry people.
Within minutes of ordering, our table was laid out with an attractive array of edamame. quail eggs, sea squirt and sea snail. Soy sauce, chogochujang, ssamjang, garlic, gochu, wasabi, ginger and lettuce were provided as condiments. The sea squirt and sea snail were sublime, ocean fresh, right from the tank. The chogochujang and ssamjang were both excellent preparations, each with just the right amount of punch to compliment the mollusks.
Next, a delightful sashimi salad was presented – essentially a multi greens slaw with tasty bits of our upcoming halibut tossed in a slightly sweet soy vinaigrette. An excellent precursor dish to what was forthcoming.
Two companion appetizers soon followed – a hot krab with mussel and a hot salmon with mussel, both diced, sauced and served atop the mussel in shell. Yum!
Several dishes subsequently arrived in quick succession. First, a mixed naengmyeon platter that our server initially brought out to display unassembled and then returned to the kitchen to combine for us. As is traditional, the long, cold noodles were left uncut. A great, tangy, almost effervescent-tasting baechu kimchee accompanied this dish.
I had been longing for kongchi gui (broiled mackerel pike or saury) for the past week or two. Much to my surprise, my wishes were granted when a prime specimen was delivered to our table. My dining companion does not care for the strong taste of kongchi, so the entire dish was mine to devour from head to tail. And devour I did, including the entrails and eyeballs. (*_*)
The piece de resistance, the hwal uh sashimi platter, was next to arrive along with bowls of steamed rice. The sashimi was very thinly sliced and elegantly presented atop a saran-covered bowl of ice. The delicious tender filets appealed in every sense of the word and continued to cool as we ate. Rarely have I enjoyed sashimi so fresh. I was utterly content and decidedly full … and then …
Next to arrive, almost to my protestations was a hot, spicy pot of maeuntang made with the final bones and morsels of our halibut, its eggs, some tofu, daikon and a bit of onions and kelp. A taste sufficed for me but, thankfully, my dining companion was able to polish off the entirety in true culinary reckless abandon. It was that good.
The service was friendly, courteous and attentive. Throughout the meal, we chatted with the owner/chef, his wife and family. We were made to feel most welcome and appreciated.
Thank you Dongbu Live Fish for such a wonderful dining experience, undoubtedly one soon to be repeated. And thank you too, Ms. Halibut. You most certainly gave your all to our fill and enjoyment. Enjoy we did and full we were! (^_^)
Dongbu Live Fish - Hwal Uh Sashimi
18785 Colima Rd
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
Dongbu Live Fish
18785 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748