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run don't walk to Da Rae Oak

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run don't walk to Da Rae Oak

Stan | Jun 28, 2004 07:31 PM

I had lunch at Da Rae Oak (1106 S Western Ave, a couple blocks south of Olympic, (323) 733-2474). It was not only the best meal I've ever eaten at a Korean restaurant, clearly better for example than Sa Rit Gol, but it was also one of the best meals I have eaten in my life. It might be hard to find. Though it's on Western, the entrance is around the back in the parking lot. And the signs outside are spelled something like Dha Rae Ok.

The quality of the food hit me within moments of walking in. It was so colorful and vibrant that it seemed to jump off of the plates. At first I was a little weirded out by the decor, which is sort of like being in a submarine, but that went away once I sat down.

I decided to order the spicy barbequed pork. They had two versions of it, the lunch special for $7.99 and the regular dinner version for I think $13.99. I was hungry, so I gestured at the dinner version when ordering.

First they brought six panchan. Three of them (sprouts, kimchee, and an aspic-like cake with chili sauce) were merely very good. The other three, however, were extraordinary. One was like sauteed parsley with a little bit of scallions and chili sauce. The second was a sort of musky spinach that I'm told is some kind of mountain vegetable. And the third *might* have been egg. Think of tamago like they serve at sushi places, except that the color shades from sunshine yellow at one end to the bluish-gray of moldy cheese at the other end. It may have been the weirdest-looking thing I have ever eaten, but the taste was an intense, concentrated egg flavor. Once I finished eating the panchan, without asking they brought me extra servings of three of them.

Then the pork, which was excellently spicy and tender, with a few cooked onions and a good bowl of seasoned rice. With the pork they also brought two soups, a relatively ordinary seaweed soup and a strange bowl that seemed to be nothing but fried rice in boiling water. The latter didn't work that well.

When they brought the bill, it said $7.99. It was ridiculous: I've had a bunch of $50 meals that weren't this good.

On top of that it's just a very happy place. Everyone was smiling and socializing, and the manager was bowing at everyone. He kept on bowing as he opened the door for me on the way out.

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