Interactive Korean Barbecue at Honey Pig

Interactive Korean Barbecue at Honey Pig

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Tabletop cooking takes center stage at this experimental restaurant

If you’re a fan of dining experiences that are a change of pace from the norm, then Honey Pig is a must-try. At this Korean barbecue restaurant, the format is so unique that it takes some getting used to: Each table has its own domed grill, and servers bring raw meats and all the fixin’s to your table. You cook the meat, wrap it up in lettuce leaves, add on a slew of condiments, enjoy, and repeat. Honey Pig is certainly one restaurant in town that doesn’t have much of an equal.

Pork belly and boneless short rib are the two most popular meats to grill, as their fattiness lends itself nicely to the charring heat. But various other varieties of pork (different marinades, jowl meat, and just skin) and beef (tongue, brisket, intestines) are available, as well as shrimp, scallops, duck, and octopus.

Hot pots, another famous Korean interactive food, are also available; a big bowl of broth is delivered to your table and you can cook your meat that way as well.

Your Meal is Cooked Tableside at Honey Pig Korean BBQ

If the smell of smoky, grilled meat is more than you can resist, you’re going to love Honey Pig Korean BBQ. Your dinner of bulgogi or brisket cooks tableside at this unique eatery, which only makes the experience even more special. The menu consists of lots of savory meat options, like spicy pork belly, beef tongue, or Kalbi beef ribs. Soon enough, your table will be littered with bowls of salad, dipping sauces, and carefully prepared meats, and the staff at Honey Pig Korean BBQ will assist you in grilling it all right in front of you.

Honey Pig makes for an interactive dining experience, and one that you can customize with each bite. Honey Pig Korean BBQ can get quite busy on Friday and Saturday night, so make sure your whole party is present and ready to order. The servers waste no time in getting you set up and cooking, so even a bit of a wait is worth it for the quick table service. Find Honey Pig Korean BBQ in the Princess Shopping Center in Ellicott City.

Jonathan Gold's 60 Korean Dishes Every Angeleno Should Know

I had been writing about the restaurants for ages, but when I assembled the Weekly's first Koreatown guide in 2004, the sheer size and vitality of the scene were even then astonishing. The area already seemed to have more late-night restaurants than the rest of the city put together, a network of nightclubs that rivaled Hollywood's, and a hard-drinking restaurant culture whose most enthusiastic participants visited not just one eating place per evening but often three or four: an anju bar for a soju and a snack a restaurant for dinner a norebang (karaoke bar) or billiards hall or dance club where there is also a snack or two and then perhaps one of the 24-hour places for a pot of soup or a greasy seafood pancake to take some of the edge off the alcohol.

To know Koreatown meant exploring not just one of these kinds of places, but all of them not just curiosity but endurance.

Koreatown, which occupies an expanding area between Hancock Park and downtown, may well be the most vibrant expat enclave anywhere in the world, a neighborhood of Korean driving ranges and Korean herbalists, karaoke rooms and supermarkets, movie complexes and modern shopping malls that could have been plucked straight out of Seoul.

Preparing the fried rice on the table grill at Sun Ha Jang. Credit: Anne Fishbein

In the years since then, of course, Korea established itself at the center of Asia's culture. When teenagers swoon over musicians, they are as likely to be K-pop stars like 2PM or Girls Generation as they are Rihanna or Justin Bieber, and projects like Seoul's river restoration, which turned a downtown superhighway back into the river on whose bed it was originally constructed, are the envy of city planners around the world.

I used to joke that Koreatown was basically a midsized Korean city whose culinary specialties were soondubu and laterally cut short ribs. Now, it is clear, Koreatown is functionally a distant district of Seoul — in capital as well as in culture, in both commerce and cuisine.

There are some things you should know about dining in the less-fancy sorts of Korean restaurants, even if you're an expert in this sort of thing. The idea of service tends to be different in Korean restaurants from what it is even in other Asian restaurants: The waiters and waitresses are there to take your order, bring you food and fetch the check, period. There will be no discussion of the vegetables in season, or banter about whether the mackerel is better than the cod. The best small restaurants specialize in one or two specialties, and you will be expected to order one of them. Filtered ice water, or perhaps dilute barley tea, are perfectly acceptable as beverages everywhere but bars, and nobody will ever try to upsell you to beer or soju. (You can usually ask to have a water pitcher left on your table.) Banchan, the little dishes of marinated vegetables, kimchi and other things that accompany your meal, will be refilled as many times as you wish, although it is considered poor form to overdo it on lavish freebies like marinated crab or fried fish. You will often find an electronic call button affixed to the table. Do not be shy about using it when you need the check or another round of raspberry wine — you will feel obnoxious, but it is the protocol.

Jae Bu Do's interior. Credit: Anne Fishbein

I arbitrarily capped the number of dishes in this guide at 60, but it is clear that the number could just as well be 160 — the more I learn about Korean cooking in Los Angeles, the less I feel I know. The basic unit of consumption may still be all-you-can-eat barbecue meals, a phenomenon not covered in depth here, but the energy is clearly elsewhere. And I am already mourning the omission of Ham Hung's naengmyun with skate, Young Dong's sullongtong with tongue, Nakzi Village's stir-fried octopus, chicken wings at the Prince, the spicy fried rice made from the nuclear-hardened remains of Ttu Rak's galbi jjim — and, really, any serious pancake. Do not hesitate to tell us about your favorite bindaedduk.

Jing-gee Skhan

In a Japanese shabu-shabu restaurant, you swish bits of meat and vegetables one by one through a pot of simmering broth, noting how each is altered by its cooking, and how each contributes to the harmonious whole. Jing-gee Skhan, named after noted carnivore Genghis Khan, is the Korean equivalent. And, at least as performed at Seoul Garden, its local temple, it seems to be more communal in its approach. There is one kind of meat involved, either chicken, turkey or rosy, absolutely standard slices of beef loin, arranged like peony petals on a platter, and the vegetables come in the form of an enormous salad of herbs, chopped greens and slivered scallions, supplemented with a single sliced mushroom and a few cubes of tofu. Your first sacrifice to the burbling pot is exactly the same as your last, each chopstickful of boiled meat and herbs you fish out of the pot identical. What you experience is the distillation of humble ingredients into something rather powerful, so that by the time the waitress comes by with a plate of fresh udon noodles to cook in what's left of the broth, then finishes by stirring in rice and egg to thicken it into a porridge, what you are left with is something muscular and profound. Does this say something about the character of the Korean people? I would like to think it does. 1833 W. Olympic Blvd. (213) 386-8477.

Shaken dosirak

Imagine a Korean kid's lunch box — meat, rice, vegetables, egg and pickles packed into a flat, metal container. Then imagine the same box shaken until its contents rearrange into a crude bibimbap — delicious. This may be the only standard restaurant dish anywhere in the world whose origin points to a bored 6-year-old on a playground. You can find a very good dosirak at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, a new barbecue place in the Chapman Plaza owned by the wrestler-turned-movie comedian Kang Ho Dong — think of him as The Rock crossed with Rob Schneider. It's an appetizer and an upper-body workout rolled into one. 3465 W. Sixth St. (213) 384-9678.

Enjoy the pie at Mr. Pizza. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Grand Prix pizza

Have you ever seen the Grand Prix pizza at Mr. Pizza Factory? Because even within the world of cross-cultural cuisine, the Grand Prix is a remarkable object, a weighty, doughy construction that can so warp your perceptions of what a pizza might be that it threatens to dent the space-time continuum. Imagine a pie whose geography is neatly bisected, one half resembling a deconstructed shrimp cocktail, the other a plate of nachos. Rising at the edge is a tawny ridge of browned, sweetened, raisin-speckled dough. After you eat the nacho pizza and the shrimp-cocktail pizza, you are supposed to break off pieces of this scone crust and dip them in strawberry jam for dessert. Mr. Pizza Factory is my hero. 3881 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 738-0077.

If you are fond of litigation, you should probably turn the page. Because of all the hazards inherent in Korean gastronomy — stray coals, red-hot stones and exploding clams among them — there may be no foodstuff quite so dangerous as the chewy, sizzling street-food staple called hotteok, as found at Koo's Sweet Rice Pancake Hotteok Cart. You will burn your fingers on the pancake, that's a given blister your lips possibly scorch your tongue. But if you've never experienced hotteok, nothing can possibly prepare you for the flood of molten brown sugar from its heart, a delicious, cinnamon-scented goo that shares rather too many characteristics with napalm. Am I imagining things, or is that pure evil behind that griddle? Koo's, in the parking lot behind California Market, 4317 Beverly Blvd.

Sun Ha Jang's duck is cooked on a griddle before you add it to a salad of lettuce and leeks. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Duck bulgogi

Slices of unseasoned duck breast ooze and shrink and sear on a thick, cast-iron griddle at Sun Ha Jang you snatch them off the heat and fold them into a salad of lettuce and sliced leeks. When a waitress plugs the drain with a hank of cabbage kimchi, it is time to cook the “roast duck”: the parts of the bird that don't happen to come from the breast, which you slowly render into duck cracklings. The duck is eaten. The fat boils. A bowl of cooked rice is upended onto the griddle with herbs and your leftover kimchi it soon will become the richest fried rice of your life. 4032 W. Olympic Blvd. (323) 634-9292.

School Food Blooming Roll is a brightly lit café a few steps from the CGV triplex — the first local outpost of a Seoul-based chain. It's very cute, very Hello Kitty, with flat screens blaring K-pop videos and a largely pubescent crowd. The conceit here is, as the restaurant's name implies, school food — the kinds of things you might have found in your junior high school cafeteria if you had been raised in Korea, circa 2005: gooey, fire-hot ddukbokki with cheese chicken noodle soup dumplings even blood sausage, which probably plays better in Korea than it might in Encino. Foremost among the nostalgic dishes here is the huge assortment of kimbap, which are kind of like Japanese maki and kind of not: tightly wrapped sushi rolls stuffed with things like beef teriyaki, crunchy anchovies, bacon with garlic, and the inevitable Spam and egg. Do Korean kids really eat tar-black squid ink kimbap for lunch? I'll trade you for your peanut butter sandwich … 621 S. Western Ave. (213) 380-3663.

Before K-pop, before pirate bars, before indoor driving ranges, there were the private rooms and tuck 'n' roll booths of Dong Il Jang, the cornerstone of modern Koreatown. And at Dong Il Jang was roast gui, thickish slices of well-marbled beef, sizzled in butter in a big, tabletop skillet. The trick is grabbing the beef off the hot metal after it has begun to caramelize but before all the juices have cooked out of it — which is easy enough to manage even if a waitress doesn't happen to be hovering — and lubricating it with a bit of sesame oil and salt. Roast gui is technically barbecue, I guess, but it feels more genteel somehow, more old-fashioned than atavistic, like the Korean equivalent of steak Diane. 3455 W. Eighth St. (213) 383-5757.

Pumpkin porridge

Although you might not guess it from the tides of Crown Royal surging down Wilshire on weekend nights, Koreans tend to be as obsessed with health culture as any Westside yogini, and Koreatown is laced with spas and herbalists and wellness centers, sometimes right next door to the places selling all-you-can-eat pork. And there is probably nothing in the Korean repertory healthier than pumpkin porridge with glutinous rice dumplings: five minutes of satori in a bowl. Bon Juk, the local outlet of a Seoul-based chain, is the fanciest porridge parlor in Koreatown, absolutely without harsh edges, and the pumpkin porridge is the star of the menu, sweet, gentle and utterly calming. You can also get your porridge with kimchi and octopus, but it somehow seems beside the point. 3551 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 380-2248.

Hwe dup bap, a complicated raw-fish salad, at A-Won. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Hwe dup bap

The great Korean contribution to the world's sushi kitchen may well be hwe dup bap, an elaborate, raw-fish salad leavened with dried seaweed and hot rice and flavored with chile paste. And at A-Won, a Koreatown institution devoted to the cult of hwe dup bap, the display is formidable: bowls as big as Valkyrie helmets, mounds of diced halibut, tuna and salmon sashimi, a quart of chopped greens, enough crunchy fish eggs to populate the Pacific Ocean with smelt. Hwe dup bap is an interactive creature that doesn't really come into existence until you mix it together, tossing and stirring, sluicing the salad with as much sweet, hot chile paste as you care to squeeze out of a squirt bottle, tossing in a bowl of hot rice at the last second and tossing some more. Hwe dup bap is one of those dishes where each bite is subtly varied in spice, marine savor and green crunch, with the smelt roe crackling under your teeth, the raw fish melting into the hot rice. Does the chef fight for the best-quality fish with Nobu Matsuhisa each dawn? No, but that's not the point. Good hwe dup bap — and A-Won's is very good — is as alive and vivid and evanescent as a wildflower. 913 ½ S. Vermont Ave. (213) 389-6764.

Need abalone porridge at 5 a.m.? Go to Mountain. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Abalone porridge

Korean cuisine is nothing if not rich in its variety of hangover chasers, the dishes you want to have between you and the roiling chasm of your melting insides. First among these may be jeonbokjuk, Korean abalone porridge, a simple, fortifying gruel of rice, water and as much abalone as you can afford. Mountain is open 24 hours, and whatever time of day you end up there, squeezed between teetering stacks of takeout containers, almost everybody in the restaurant is eating that abalone porridge, a little runny, decorated with a raw egg yolk that shines like the sun of a new day. If you were uncharitable, you could say that the pricey abalone features almost homeopathically, in concentrations low enough to send the sympathetic circuits of your body vibrating in an abalone-like frequency. Still, the porridge seems to work. As at all porridge restaurants, the banchan, small dishes that accompany the meal, include jangjorim, a bowl of butter-soft beef simmered with soy and sliced chiles. 3064 Eighth St. (213) 487-7615.

Blowfish soup

When I want to demonstrate the breadth of the Koreatown restaurant scene to visitors, I often take them to Dae Bok. Because while the great European capitals may have culinary marvels of their own, what they don't have is a serene restaurant devoted to the glories of Korean blowfish stew. So after you persuade the waitress that what you really want is blowfish instead of monkfish, pronounce the words bok jiri a half-dozen times and point to the line drawing of the blowfish printed on the chopstick wrapper, if you promise not to die, you may be rewarded with the delicious mild fish: chunks of tail simmered with bean sprouts and bitter Korean greens on a tabletop burner. You can enhance the soup halfway through with spoonfuls of minced garlic and brick-red gochujang, at which time it technically becomes bok mauentang, but whatever. When you're almost finished, the waitress reappears to mix the dregs with rice, chopped vegetables and a little oil. The porridge fries into a crisp-bottomed porridge of joy. 2010 James M. Wood Blvd. (213) 386-6660.

Jeju-do Burger

Is this preparation from, or even directly inspired by, the cooking of Jeju-do, the island home of Korea's famous black pigs? Likely not. Jeju-do doesn't seem to be much of a burger-and-fries kind of place. But Kalbi Burger's densely packed, ground-pork patty, tinted vivid orange with chiles, grilled, plastered with kimchi and plenty of the chile sauce gochujang, is formidable. Sweet, spicy and dripping juice, the Jeju-do burger packs all the sensations of great pork barbecue between the freshly baked buns. 4001 Wilshire Blvd. (213) 738-7898.

Kimchi pancake

You find your way into a dark parking lot off Berendo, walk up a wheelchair ramp that seems to lead to a dance studio, and walk through a deserted courtyard, down a hall past a dishwashing station and up a small flight of stairs into DGM (short for Dwight Gol Mok), a movie director's fantasy of a smoke-filled Korean student tavern. Every square inch of the walls is marked with graffiti vintage K-pop blares and hanging TV screens show the Lakers. The groups of women in the low booths tend to be impossibly great-looking, possibly drawn by the waiters in tight, black T-shirts, who are even cuter. The menus are those untranslated block-of-wood things you have seen in other K-town bars, with tiny, scratchy print that would be impossible to decipher even if you did read hangul. But you will be drinking soju, and you will be eating the same kinds of things you find at every other K-town bar: the spicy beef-leek soup yukgaejang, fried chicken gizzards, or nakji boekkum, tiny octopus stir-fried with sweetish chile sauce. By the time you finish the first bottle of soju, you're going to forget all that. So just get the kimchi pancakes. They're crisp and oily, and exactly what you want. 3275 Wilshire Blvd. (enter off Berendo) (213) 382-8432.

In the years since we first encountered this dessert, we have learned to appreciate the traditional teahouse pat-bingsu, a taut, balanced, barely sweet construction of shaved ice, green tea ice cream, soaked beans and jellies, a quiet bit of Korean Zen. But splashy, trashy bingsu is really more fun, a hot mess of sweet beans, canned fruit cocktail, ice cream, whipped cream and crushed ice, larger than a small child's head. When I first wrote about the bingsu served at Ice Kiss, a bingsu specialist not far from the Chapman Market, I noted that it was sprinkled with bright, crunchy bits that looked and tasted an awful lot like Fruity Pebbles. I have since been informed that they were, in fact, Fruity Pebbles. If you're going to eat like a 6-year-old, you might as well go all the way. 3407 W. Sixth St. (213) 382-4776.

Tender, carmalized barbecued pork ribs at Baek Hwa Jung. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Barbecued ribs

If you stroll down Olympic in the early evening, the sweet, burnt-pork vapors drifting from Baek Hwa Jung are enough to make you weep, or at least to break into a happy trot toward the source of that magnificent smoke. Almost every restaurant in Koreatown specializes in one dish or another. It is our good fortune that a couple decided to specialize in daeji galbi, barbecued pork ribs that lean into your second bottle of soju like a motorcyclist grinding into a curve. Even if you prefer the pork at Hamji Park, the other great Koreatown rib specialist, it is hard to resist these tender, caramelized, char-flecked bones. Supplement your ribs with an order of the DIY pork-belly wrap gool bossam, which is the second best version in town after Kobawoo House. 3929 W. Olympic Blvd. (323) 935-5554.

There are some people who believe that soontofu — soft, freshly made bean curd served as the main ingredient of a Korean jjigae — originated in L.A.'s Koreatown and made it back to Seoul as an import. There are some people who maintain that there was always something like soontofu in Korea. What nobody denies is that the popularity of the dish started here, at Beverly Soontofu, and spread eastward, bringing health and happiness to the motherland. A bowl of soontofu looks less like food than like a special effect, a heaving, bright-red mass in a superheated cauldron, which spurts geysers, spits like a lake of volcanic lava and broadcasts a fine red mist of chile and broth that tints anything within six inches of the bowl a pale, lustrous pink. Get it with clams. 2717 W. Olympic Blvd. (213) 380-1113.

Masan's monkfish stew contains sea squirts, which explode with iodine-y liquid when you bite into them. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Monkfish stew

Like many Koreatown seafood restaurants, Masan is well known for its live seafood, bubbling displays of abalone, prawns, sea urchin, octopus and eel, which sometimes seem closer to Marineland than to the timid aquaria in Cantonese banquet halls. But Masan is named for a southern coastal city whose streets are lined with restaurants specializing in agujjim, monkfish stew. It is nearly inconceivable to come here without trying a seething bowl of the stuff, spiked with fresh bean sprouts and as much chile as you can stand, and flavored with a handful of chopped scallions and a few sea squirts, peculiar invertebrates that explode into rich, iodine-tinged liquid when you chomp them. The simmered fish is chewy, almost meaty — less a poor man's lobster than a kind of marine pork. 2851 W. Olympic Blvd. (213) 388-3314.

It should be noted that practically every bar in Koreatown serves its own version of hot wings, which, as any buffalo-wing aficionado can attest, speed the consumption of beer like nothing else on Earth. But OB Bear, a venerable Koreatown tavern across the street from Southwestern Law School, serves lots of beer, just amazing amounts of beer, sometimes in the form of minikegs that dwarf the rather small tabletops. And while the whole chicken, which I would guess was double-fried from the glossy tautness of the skin, and the spicy stir-fried squid are nothing to complain about, what keeps the suds flowing are the wings, as sticky and peppery and oily as could be wished for by Duffman himself. 3002 W. Seventh St. (213) 480-4910.

Pork neck soup

I have been a judge at Korean barbecue contests where I felt like disqualifying myself from the pork round. The distinctive herbal snap and the caramel-y butteriness of the Hamji Park pig was unmistakable among the entries, and I was pretty sure the contest was over before it began. Yet the barbecued ribs, as good as they are, are only the second-best reason to visit Hamji Park. You will see a heaping platter of them on every table — but right next to the steaming tureen of gamjatang, a thick, scarlet soup made with potatoes, chile and meaty pork neck bones, simmered until the flesh has turned almost to jelly: There is a strong family resemblance to a Oaxacan mole colorado. The Hamji Park gamjatang has its detractors, mostly people grumpy that it costs about twice as much as other decent versions of the soup, but on Sunday morning, when the roof of your mouth is a killing floor, it is hard to put a price on comfort. 3407 W. Sixth St. (213) 365-8773.

A single octopus, dramatically set off by theatrical lighting in an aquarium, is a masterpiece of rippling muscle and balletic grace, beautiful even in the way it rips open a scallop. So it makes a certain sense that san nak ji, the chopped, still-moving tentacles of a humanely dispatched octopus, ranks first among the Koreatown exotica that aficionados are expected to seek out and enjoy. The tentacles may not be technically alive — it's a chicken-with-its-head-cut-off-thing — but they are closer to it than you may be comfortable with: sometimes barely motile but occasionally quite lively fat, wriggly things that escape onto the table or climb up your chopsticks nearly to your knuckle. You may appreciate the sesame oil-salt dip at Hwal A Kwang Jang not just because it tastes good but because the suckers on the tentacles are still fully functional, and the coating of slippery oil prevents them from maintaining a grip on your tongue or the roof of your mouth. Is it worth it? It can be — meaty, slightly nutty, definitely alive. But I don't see it replacing cocktail peanuts anytime soon. 730 S. Western Ave. (213) 386-6688.

If your only experience with intestines involved the chitlins at a Juneteenth picnic, the Koreatown obsession with the things may be a little hard to understand. You find intestines everywhere here, both cow and pig: boiled and put onto combination plates, heaped next to the brisket at all-you-can-eat barbecue places, stuck into soup at bars, sautéed with chile paste, even roasted and served as a free snack with drinks. Korean preparations emphasize the organ's luxurious fattiness, the crispness, not the funkiness. It's not Fear Factor, it's bar eats. A lot of menus offer not just intestines but a half-dozen different cuts of intestine. But, as in all things, you are probably best off with a specialist. And the barbecue restaurant Byul Gobchang is the center of all things beef intestine, with a devoted clientele and a menu that reads like a dissection manual — the chewy, delicious cylinders of grilled small intestine pack astonishing amounts of garlic. As long as you're here, you might as well get the combination plate, which includes not just choice bits of large intestine and small intestine but also abomasum, the rarely seen fourth stomach of the cow. 3819 W. Sixth St. (213) 739-0321.

King mandoo

I keep thinking of the dumplings the parents eat near the beginning of Miyazaki's Spirited Away: The king mandoo at Pao Jao are so large, the dimpling on top so exaggerated, that the fluffy, steamy Korean bao look more like something out of a cartoon than they do something you might actually eat for lunch. The filling, I'm pretty sure, involves pork, garlic, glass noodles, garlic, greens and garlic — just the thing to power a shopping trip at the mall. While you're at Pao Jao, pick up an order of the brilliant shrimp dumplings, too. In the food court of Koreatown Plaza, 928 S. Western Ave. (213) 385-1881.

An aging fad? Very well, an aging fad. But still: Chuncheon Dakgalbi, a very nice place. A steel pan appears a flame is lit what looks like five pounds of cabbage and sweet potato begins to steam over the tabletop burner. The pan starts to bubble, and for the first time you can see the scarlet layer of chicken under the vegetables. A waiter comes over to flip the mass. You wonder if the included dduk, thick rice noodles, are ready to eat. Chile sauce is applied. The cabbage melts down to nothing. The sauce caramelizes. You may eat. Dakgalbi is more meat than salad, more sweet than hot, more chewy than crisp. When you are finished, or almost so, the waiter restarts the fire, squirts some oil in the pan, fries an egg in it, then mixes in your leftovers with rice and a handful of minced Korean herbs and lets it sit until the bottom develops a crunchy crust. This is widely considered to be the best part. 703 S. Vermont Ave. (213) 388-0285.

The clientele that eats Feng Mao's mutton kebabs is Korean, though the food is Chinese. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Mutton kebabs

Feng Mao isn't a Korean restaurant. It is a restaurant where northeastern Chinese cooks prepare the Beijing version of Xinxiang barbecue for a Korean-speaking clientele. It is Muslim-style cooking accompanied by little dishes of kimchi and presented in a pork-intensive, alcohol-intensive dining room. It's the rough, rustic food of nomads, cooked on tabletop grills in the middle of a megalopolis, in a room blued with fragrant clouds of charred meat, burnt chile and cumin, and hardwood charcoal. What you want are mutton kebabs, as many as you can afford: lozenges of rich meat interspersed with tiny cubes of lamb fat that turn crisp and lubricate the meat as it cooks. Even the existence of Feng Mao feels improbable, one of those cross-cultural carom shots that only seems to make sense within the context of Los Angeles. 414 S. Western Ave. (213) 388-9299.

Is there ever a wrong time for jajangmyun, or jjajangmyeon, chachiangmian, or zha jiang mian? The divine crankcase sludge of black bean paste, meat and melted onions is as delicious in August as it is in December, and the hand-pulled noodles that traditionally complete the rest of the dish are not to be despised — although despised the Korean version is, mostly by Chinese who cannot fathom the turbocharging of the Shandong classic. But although player-haters have been issuing downhill alerts on the place for years, I am loyal to the chewy, pungent, ink-black sludge at the venerable Mandarin House, which is still neck-snappingly good after more than 15 years — although I have recently changed my allegiance to the branch location in the Koreatown Plaza. 928 S. Western Ave. (213) 386-4588.

Grilled corvina at Olympic Cheonggukjang. Credit: Anne Fishbein


Cheonggukjang, a thick soup made with the fermented Korean bean paste also called cheonggukjang, has an aroma that has been compared to ripe French cheeses, unwashed jockstraps and the city of Vernon — a Korean equivalent of Japanese natto with a piquancy that even connoisseurs of durian and Taiwanese stinky tofu think is slightly over the top. Once the cheonggukjang is in your lungs, you may be thinking more about survival than you are about lunch. No non-Korean can possibly eat that soup, you may be told — even at Olympic Cheonggukjang, its Los Angeles temple. It is deep culture. Yet there it is, in a heated black bowl, slippery whole beans bobbing alongside herbs and cubes of tofu. It is your own private fumarole: crimson, smoking and alive. The trick is to gulp the thick fluid as quickly as if it were your first shot of whiskey. The cliché with such foods is that the smell is more fearsome than the taste. Cheonggukjang — which does have a lovely flavor, a little like toasted barley — isn't like that. Because after the third bite, and maybe after the second, it takes over your body like a mischevious, animist spirit, making it impossible to concentrate on anything but its presence bubbling up from your skin. 2528 W. Olympic Blvd., #104 (213) 480-1107.

Corn cheese

It would take sages far wiser than I to discover why this sputtering mass of corn, mayonnaise and melted cheese is associated with Koreatown bars rather than with Paula Deen. It's a bit of cultural randomness, bubbling in its red-hot iron dish, often sharing table space with things like country-fried chicken gizzards and apple soju in an exoticized tableau of NASCAR Americana. I'm not sure anyone has ever favored a Koreatown bar because of the excellence of its corn cheese. Like electricity or tap water, it's just there. But when you unaccountably find yourself at a place like Toe Bang — because, Toe Bang — it sometimes comes down to you and corn cheese against the world. In Chapman Plaza, 3465 W. Sixth St. (213) 387-4905.

Goat fried rice

You will, of course, be going to Chin-Go-Gae to eat the famous black-goat soup, a frothy, orange cauldron of kid meat, chile and as many fresh gaenip leaves as you can cram into the simmering broth. The goat is formidable. But what everybody likes best is that moment just after the meal, when a waitress enriches the dregs of the soup with a raw egg and some rice, then lets it cook down into a thick, profoundly goaty porridge whose seared edges become black, salty and crisp. Incredible. 3063 W. Eighth St. (213) 480-8071.

Roast goat at Blurocho. Credit: Anne Fishbein

“How did you know we serve goat?” the waitress asked. “The big picture on the sign outside?” I said. “Oh — that's right. Goat is our specialty.” And so it is: At Bulrocho an arrangement of sliced goat meat is served in a puddle of broth, like a Korean goat pot-au-feu. You pick out a piece of goat, keeping or discarding its rubbery yet delicious skin, and season it to your liking — smearing it with yellow bean paste, perhaps, spooning on a little of the house condiment made with chopped herbs and chiles, and wrapping it in a pungent leaf of gaenip with a sliver of sliced jalapeno and a clove of raw garlic, making yourself a perfect if diabolical ssam. Bulrocho is open 24/7 — some rituals feel even more ritualistic at 3 a.m. 955 S. Vermont Ave. (213) 383-0080.

Of all the soothing tonics in a cuisine rich in them, samgyetang, chicken-ginseng soup, may be No. 1: a crock filled with mild, fragrant broth and a tiny game hen stuffed with glutinous rice, Jujubes, garlic and a boatload of life-giving ginseng. Samgyetang has the place in Korean cooking that chicken-in-a-pot does at a good Jewish deli, except that you have to oversalt it all on your own. Think of the warm, salubrious vapors as nature's own answer to Vick's VapoRub. You'll find samgyetang at almost every traditional restaurant in Koreatown, but the current standard-bearer is probably Buil Sam Gye Tang, where you can get it stuffed with an encyclopedia's worth of medicinal herbs. I've never ventured past the traditional version, but if you get the one with wolfberries and shaved deer antler, let me know how it is. 4204 W. Third St. (213) 739-0001.

The Yanbian Autonomous Korean Prefecture — who hasn't dreamed of visiting the Yanbian Autonomous Korean Prefecture? It's an odd bit of China jammed between North Korea and Vladivostok, apparently as Korean as it is Chinese, and well known for its beautiful lakes and for its restaurants serving bosintang, dog-meat soup. Yanbian Restaurant, in the usual Koreatown mini-mall, specializes in the dishes of the region, including delicate Yanbian dumplings stuffed with greens, and grilled mountain vegetables of every description. There is an odd emphasis on seafood — Yanbian is landlocked — including great platters of grilled fish and exotica like braised sea hare, a giant sea slug more familiar from Discovery Channel videos than from menus. And here, without any fanfare, is your chance to eat bosintang, made with lamb instead of dog, of course, but presumably as close as you can get outside Asia, a superheated pot flavored with cumin, garlic and lots of chile, almost vibrating with the fragrance of bitter herbs. 4251 W. Third St. (213) 383-5959.

Wrapped pork belly marinated in garlic and toasting with soju at Palsaik Samgyeopsal. Credit: Anne Fishbein


There's a lot of pork belly in Koreatown these days — man, is there a lot of pork belly. Even if you've never tasted barbecued Korean pork belly, samgyeopsal, you've seen the happy pigs dancing around restaurant signs, the special domed grills in barbecue joints, and the woozy enthusiasts, lips shining with grease, celebrating pork belly's symbiosis with strong drink. Palsaik Samgyeopsal goes places like Toad House and Honey Pig one better by positioning pork belly as health food, which is a comforting thought as you watch strips of meat sizzle and dance on slanted metal griddles. The basic order features eight thick slices of belly, each saturated with a different marinade, presented in strict order of pungency. But even if you doubt the health benefits of the flavonoids in the miso pork belly or the carotene in the gochujang pork belly, so what? You're eating spicy pork belly with raw garlic and fresh herbs. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, happiness is an end in itself. 863 S. Western Ave. (213) 365-1750.

Dongchimi gook soo

If you were going to compile a roster of Koreatown's greatest hits, it would be unthinkable to leave out the dongchimi gook soo at the barbecue-intensive Corner Place, a dish of chilled noodles in a sweet, cold and mysteriously refreshing broth, made with lightly pickled radish but long-rumored to include a healthy slug of 7Up. Will you be able to take it home and reverse-engineer the recipe? You will not. The restaurant's reluctance to allow takeout of the noodles is as famous as Nozawa's refusal to serve California rolls. As long as you're here, try the brisket. It goes nicely with the soup. 2819 James M. Wood Blvd. (213) 487-0968.

Silkworm soup

We'd been to anju bars before, even some with better food, but Dan Sung Sa was our first real introduction to the Korean pub, a peek into an alternate universe of makkeoli, chain-smoking and open kitchens where aunties preside over rattling old cookpots. More than any restaurant in Los Angeles, it felt like someplace else. So we had mixed feelings when Dan Sung Sa modernized — not the dark, graffiti-scarred interior, which was unchanged, or the teapots, which still looked as if they had been used for batting practice by Chan Ho Park. It may have been the website, which put the restaurant in the context of pojangmacha, Korean street pubs, usually crammed into orange tents. It may have been the newly translated menu — we had spent many cheerful hours trying to figure out how to order the grilled pork ribs, the baby octopus, the seafood pancakes and the skewered dough-seaweed-rice noodle things that every Korean friend called dumbbells. Is this a pathetic attempt to assert that we were there before it was cool? Probably so. But we can still salvage what is left of our crumbling foodist cred by telling you that you should really try the spicy silkworm pupae in broth. Or actually, don't. Get the barbecued squid. 3317 W. Sixth St. (213) 487-9100.


Sullongtang at Han Bat is a righteous soup broth boiled for hours, days, until the liquid becomes pearlescent white. There is no fat. There is no funk. There is only the pure, mineral flavor of bones, ox reduced to essence. You add salt — not too much! — and a gentle quantity of green onion tops. You can get brisket or various cattle organs added to the soup, if that's your thing. I sometimes add a bit of chile paste to the soup, which tints it bright pink, but the act always feels like a felony. 4163 W. Fifth St. (213) 383-9499.

Diners at Jae Bu Do wear a Michael Jackson-style white glove when grabbing the barbecued clams off the tabletop grill. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Barbecued clams

You may visit Jae Bu Do because of the single white glove you are given, which can make you feel like Michael Jackson for the length of a meal. Others go for the hagfish: primitive, eel-like creatures that writhe around one another on the grill like the serpents on Asclepius' staff. Hagfish smothered in chile sauce and wrapped in gaenip leaves are almost tolerable, but the best reason to eat them is that you have earned the right to brag about eating the slimiest creature in the sea. But Jae Bu Do, where your options are limited to combinations A , B or C, is where you go for a feast of barbecued clams, scattered raw onto a tabletop hot wire grill. Your job is to grab the hot clams at just the moment the shells pop open, tug out the meat and dip it in a bit of gochujang. The glove doesn't just look cool it will spare you a great deal of pain. You will also get scallops, sea snails and prawns in the course of dinner, giant oysters and possibly even hagfish. But the clams will be what disappears first. And you will weep into your clam-stained glove. 474 N. Western Ave. (323) 467-2900.

Chic naengmyon

We've all had cold noodles. But the noodles at Yu Chun are the coldest of all: chewy, jet-black filaments, made from the root of the kudzu vine, in strong broth so cold that it rises from the bowl in airy snowdrifts of beefiness, as tart and sweet and chilled as a properly made cocktail. Yu Chun's naengmyon is cold enough to give you an ice cream headache. Yu Chun's naengmyon is so cold that the waiters customarily bring mugs of peppery hot soup as you eat it. I know other naengmyon restaurants also bring out the hot soup — sometimes they even leave a Thermos on the table — but here, I like to think of the custom as the Koreatown equivalent of St. Bernards bringing hot toddies to stranded travelers in the Alps. 3185 W. Olympic Blvd. (323) 382-3815.

Legendary Korean BBQ stalwart Soot Bull Jeep. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Old-school barbecue

It is a wonder Soot Bull Jeep hasn't burned down by now, and Koreatown has grown into a metropolis around it, but I still look forward to that moment when the waitress shovels glowing hardwood coals into the tabletop pit, plunks down a greased wire screen and spreads out bulgogi, marinated short ribs, baby octopus, spicy pork, whatever, above the guttering flame. It will sizzle. It will meet scissors. You will smear a bit of meat with fermented bean sauce, you will wrap it in a lettuce leaf, and you will like it. When you emerge from the restaurant, the same fragrant fumes that give so much flavor to the meat will have done the same to your pants. Dress accordingly. 3136 W. Eighth St. (213) 387-3865.

Marvelling at the bulgogi ssam at LaOn. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Before there was much of a Korean presence in the United States, when you were more likely to see Korean cooking on U.N. Day than you were in an actual restaurant, the emblematic dish was probably gujeolpan, a sectioned platter with crepes in the middle and finely slivered garnishes — egg, meat, vegetables — in fitted containers along the sides. It is gorgeous, a real classic of Joseon royal cookery. It is also the dullest thing you could ever hope to eat. LaOn, a small-plates restaurant from Jenni Park, who also owns Park's Barbecue and the pork restaurant Don Dae Gam, is probably the only modern restaurant in Koreatown. It is styled as a kind of Korean tapas bar, more Western than a traditional anju bar, but the best dishes tend to be Park's reimagining of the Joseon royal classics: yook hwe, grilled abalone, japchae and the egg-battered fish and vegetables called jeon. LaOn may have the crispest jeon in town. But Park's gujeolpan, with the number of ingredients brought down by two from the traditional nine and called a “seven wrap,” may be the cleverest revamp of them all — shreds of cucumber, carrot, stewed beef, simmered mushrooms and egg white and yolk served with lightly pickled daikon slices in place of the crepes, a gujeolpan that is fresh and crisp instead of stolid. 1145 S. Western Ave. (213) 373-0700.

Yook hwe may be the simplest dish in the Korean repertoire, a basic salad of slightly frozen raw beef, slivered Korean pear and a little sesame oil. When done correctly, the mild crunch of the pear and the semi-frozen beef tend to rhyme. A lot of Korean cooking can be goosed with a shot of doenjang or raw garlic, but the success of yook hwe depends absolutely on the quality of its raw materials, more reliably found in a fancy restaurant than in a joint. MaDang 621 is the grandest restaurant Koreatown has ever known, a fortress of marble and glass anchoring a complex built into the footprint of the old Woo Lae Oak — you can imagine it as the Korean equivalent of the Hollywood & Highland Center but based on a Korean costume epic instead of D.W. Griffith's Intolerance. Inside, MaDang 621 soars like New York's Four Seasons — severely modernist, barely softened with traditional Korean touches — and it is one of the few dining rooms left in Los Angeles where the male customers tend to wear ties. So, the yook hwe: meat well marbled and hand-cut, pear properly crunchy, oil judiciously applied. 621 S. Western Ave. (213) 384-2244.

Japchae is the stir-fried cellophane noodle dish that is as unavoidable in Korean meals as potato salad is at an Alabama picnic. Banchan a la Carte is more or less a gourmet takeout shop where you can pick up superior, home-fermented versions of sauces like ssamjang and gochujang fresh kimchi plastic containers of banchan for your own table (I especially like the marinated burdock) and prettily arranged party platters. There are also a few tables where you can eat in, mostly fusion-y dishes like pasta with cod roe and Korean jambalaya but also one of the few local japchaes, tossed with grilled vegetables and served for some reason over rice, which you might think of eating on its own. Slippery, warm and somehow both filling and light, the japchae is an ideal lunch. 141 N. Western Ave. (323) 465-2400.

One good thing about Koreatown restaurants circa 2012? Bibimbap isn't awful any more. I mean, sometimes the dish, with rice mixed at the table with shredded vegetables, fiery-sweet gochujang and perhaps a fried egg, is imbalanced, but it's because the salted herbs are too chewy or the meat is too plentiful, not because the cook is cleaning out yesterday's salad bar onto your lunch. It has become a safe dish almost everywhere, and at home-style restaurants like Mapo and Seongbukdong, it verges on superb. But as always, at Jeon Ju, named after the spiritual home of the dish in South Korea, bibimbap is almost transcendent, the flavors of each mountain vegetable distinct yet melding into the whole, the snap of the chile paste as nuanced as good bourbon, and the different intensities of crunch becoming almost contrapuntal under the teeth. The variation called dol sot bibimbap is really the way to go, served in a volcanically hot stone pot that creates a crisp, slightly scorched crust and a subtly pervasive smokiness. Jeon Ju's bibimbap may be one of the few recorded instances where the intensely herbal vegan version is better than the one-dimensional version with barbecued meat. 2716 W. Olympic Blvd. (213) 386-5678.

Chicken noodle soup

To understand Korean noodles without tasting gook soo is like trying to grok Italian noodles without ever having eaten spaghetti. Everything else is just commentary. And the gook soo you need to taste is at Olympic Noodle, where the thick, knife-cut pasta is fragile yet has tensile strength, bland yet wheaty, and ordinarily served in a pungent broth made from dried anchovies but possibly at its best in the context of a dense, milky chicken broth — sliced noodle soup with chicken, or dak kal gook soo — whose preparation flouts every rule of stock-making you ever learned from Jacques Pepin. The gook soo both will and will not remind you of Northern Chinese knife-cut noodles you may have had at San Gabriel places like Omar's. It will and will not remind you of Art's Deli. It is chicken noodle soup. It is served in bowls as large as utility sinks. It contains multitudes. Olympic Noodle also happens to have the only steamed mandoo, dumplings, you really need to know about, and its kimchi is fetishized by Koreatown OGs. 4008 W. Olympic Blvd. (323) 931-0007.

Kong gook soo

Is there an unusual number of cold noodles in Koreatown? Very well, there's an unusual number of cold noodles. You need some way of cooling down in the summer when your grandmother believes that, if you fall asleep with the fan on, you die. Also, cold noodles are delicious. We have talked about gook soo. Now we are talking about Ma Dang Gook Soo's kong gook soo, the same knife-cut noodles bathed in fresh soy milk, sprinkled with cucumber slivers and scented with a few drops of sesame oil. Bring on August. We're ready. 869 S. Western Ave. (213) 487-6008.

Tonkatsu or donkasu? This is the latter, a Korean pork dish at Wako Donkasu. The former is similar, but Japanese. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Tonkatsu, fried pork, is distinctly a Japanese dish, or at least Portuguese as filtered by Japan. What Wako Donkasu serves is definitely crunchy Japanese tonkatsu but with an almost inexplicable Korean edge. The restaurant may have borrowed the name of the most famous tonkatsu chain in Tokyo, and its food may be fitted into compartmentalized wooden boxes, but the place's vibe, the brusque cheerfulness and big portions are pretty much what you'd find at a Japanese restaurant in Seoul — the pork cutlet is the size and shape of a deep-fried Zagat guide. The best moment here? Grinding toasted sesame seeds with a mortar and pestle as soon as you are seated, ostensibly to flavor the sweet donkasu sauce but also as a first course that is merely a perfume, a promise of the food to come. 2904 W. Olympic Blvd. (213) 387-9256.

Ganjang gaejang

“If you haven't had Soban's ganjang gaejang,” a Yelp princess told me not long ago, “you really have no business talking about Koreatown.'' Soban is one of the new breed of chef-owned dinner houses, slightly old-fashioned and not inexpensive, which choose to do a few dishes really well rather than supporting a giant menu. If you have eaten extensively in Koreatown, you have undoubtedly run into ganjang gaejang, raw marinated crab, as a giveaway in an assortment of banchan — there's a swell one at Don Dae Gam. At Soban, a homely place best known for its spicy simmered short ribs and its squid salad, ganjang gaejang, at the princely price of $29.95, is a major commitment. Two neatly bisected blue crabs on a platter are transformed by what seems to be a clean, soy-tinged distillation of the animal's own juices, mellow yet crabbier than the crab itself. When you suck at a leg, the flesh pulls cleanly out from the shell, firm but not cooked, briny and sweet, and nearly glazed with big clumps of roe. You can eat well here even if raw crab doesn't happen to be your thing. The presentation of banchan is remarkable — there are usually at least 15 small dishes — and the spicy galbi jjim, the ubiquitous braised short-rib preparation, is just stunning, as weightless and as caramelized as an effort by a Michelin-starred chef. 4001 W. Olympic Blvd. (323) 936-9106.

Eundaegu jorim

Is eundagu jorim the default Tuesday-night dinner in Seoul? Because the spicy, black-cod casserole is pretty much everywhere around here, even in restaurants specializing in barbecue or bibimbap, and even though the price in the local markets, last time I checked, was more than $20 a pound. Jun Won is another one of the old-fashioned, home-style restaurants — the owner also runs what is considered to be the best banchan deli in town — and although the specialties are ostensibly pollack casserole and vivid-red steamed belt fish, I have never been able to get past the simmered black cod (“steamed black cod” on the menu): a little spicy and meltingly sweet, riding a baseball-size hunk of radish that has been braised to utter, utter submission. 3100 W. 8th St. (213) 383-8855.

Braised mackerel

Galbi jjim, yes, galbi jjim. Everyone knows you go to Seongbukdong for galbi jjim. It's on every table nearly, set out in little pots — steamed short ribs, barely touched with sweetness, which breathe the essence of good meat and time. At $25.99 or so, it is by far the most expensive thing on the menu, and you probably should get two, because it vanishes more quickly than pistachio nuts. The last time I was in, the braised mackerel may have been the single best bit of seafood I have ever tasted in Koreatown, cooked in a way that accentuated its fishiness instead of quieting it, turning the oily pungency of the flesh almost into a condiment, a self-generated garum. The transformation of the mackerel was the fishy equivalent of grapes turned into wine. Breathtaking. 3303 W. Eighth St. (213) 738-8977.

Budae jjigae

Until I actually tasted the stuff, I half-believed that budae jjigae was an urban legend, a traditional Korean stew enriched with Spam and hot dogs and instant ramen cadged from American army bases, sometimes enriched with canned sausages and glops of American cheese. Budae jjigae, sometimes called military stew, or Johnson tang in honor of LBJ, is a culinary souvenir of the hard years after the Korean War. But the stew is a hit in Koreatown, as well as Seoul, a cheap staple of soju bars, where the hot, orange goo has legendary absorptive qualities. At Chunju Han-il Kwan, you can more or less believe it is delicious, enriched with feathery green chrysanthemum leaves, and fortified with chiles to a point where you almost can't taste the Spam. 3450 W. Sixth St. (213) 480-1799.

Grilled pork neck

Don Dae Gam, owned by the Park's BBQ people, is less Seoul high-tech than post-Ikea chic its menu is weighted toward combination barbecue dinners, meant to be shared by three or four, inexpensive enough to feed hungry college students. Beer, a pot of kimchi stew and various enhancements are included in the price — one night there was a generous platter of what seemed like broiled tripas de leche, the top of the small intestine of an unweaned calf, the half-digested milk still inside. But it's mostly about the pig and the grill here: four kinds of pork belly, two kinds of pork ribs and a stray slab of beef brisket, which under the circumstances is probably meant as honorary pork. When you burn out on pork belly — is it possible to burn out on pork belly? — try the delicate, fat-ribboned slices of pork neck instead. 1145 S. Western Ave. (323) 373-0700.

Savoring a bowl at Park's BBQ, a branch of the Seoul K-pop hangout. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Park Dae Gam, better known as Park's BBQ, is the ultramodern palace of high-end meats that changed the game in Koreatown, the restaurant that managed to put the fragrance of hardwood charcoal into the meat and not into your hair, established superprime Wagyu beef as its standard grade and introduced the pork known as Tokyo X, a lean, dense pig from a special hybrid breed whose bellies have the springy presence of fresh pasta. Park's, a branch of a Seoul restaurant known for its clientele of pop stars and movie directors, is the most expensive barbecue place in Koreatown by a not insignificant amount, but it is still almost impossible to get into on a balmy Saturday night. (Ironically, Park's success may have been indirectly responsible for the surge of supercheap, kind-of-mediocre Korean barbecue joints in the last couple of years — with the top and middle established, the bottom was the only niche left to fill.) When you decide that you've moved beyond the maximal aesthetic of all-you-can-eat, you may want to celebrate here with an order of USDA Prime ggot sal, rib-eye steak, on the grill. If you're spending more money on less meat, ggot sal is the way to go. 955 S. Vermont Ave. (213) 380-1717.

You've been to sushi bars you know the drill. You murmur the word omakase, you settle back with a beaker of daiginjo, and you submit to the exquisite ministrations of the chef. Forget what you know about sashimi when you walk into a Koreatown live-seafood restaurant. Because while the raw materials are more or less the same, and there are judgmental men with sharp knives involved, the rules are not the same. In sushi bars, you experience a sequence of fish whose order and preparations are orchestrated by the chef. In Koreatown, at, say, Wassada, you experience one fish, usually a live halibut: lifted from a tank, dispatched and sliced into wisp-thin sashimi — a lot of sashimi. Do you delicately dip one corner of a halibut filet into soy sauce? You could, although it's more likely that you'll smear the fish with Wassada's astonishingly good bean paste, ssam jang, then wrap it in a gaenip leaf with a clove of raw garlic. And while you may be exploring the nuances of one fish rather than the contours of many, the side dishes never stop coming: sliced abalone in its shell, an entire box of sea urchin, oysters, abalone porridge, spicy fish soup, broiled fish head, fish-roe salad, slabs of monkfish liver — basically an entire Jacques Cousteau special laid out on

a big table, randy sea squirts and all. 377 N. Western Ave. (323) 464-3006.

Feminist theory often refers to what has been called the male gaze. And if the male gaze were to be focused on a foodstuff instead of Megan Fox, it might well be buldak, fire chicken, the consumption of which is at least as much a masculine ritual as an Adam Sandler movie or mixed martial arts. If a dinner of buldak doesn't put you on the floor, sweating profusely and gasping for breath, then it hasn't been doing its job. The preparation is simple enough: It is marinated chicken, sautéed in a spicy, garlicky sauce. The machismo lies in the level of heat, which can be raised to paralyzing levels. The last time I was in Korean Chicken Place, the owner initially refused to serve me buldak after he agreed, employees came by the table every couple of minutes to make sure that the occasional yowls were not indications of actual physical distress, though I often looked as if I had been tear-gassed by an overenthusiastic officer of the law. After dinner, on my way out of the restaurant patio, the waitress touched my arm and admitted that the cook had taken the heat level up to three. The next time I visited, she promised, they would crank it up to four. 618 S. Serrano Ave. (213) 388-6990.

Employees Kyeong-Hwa and Jinwoo serving up crispy goodness at Kyochon. Credit: Anne Fishbein

Korean fried chicken really is an evolutionary leap forward — marinated in a cabinet full of spices, saturated with garlic, double-fried to a shattering, thin-skinned snap. It is not accidental that the streets of Koreatown sometimes seem to be paved with golden chicken skin. At Kyochon, the first of the Korean chicken joints, the chicken is cooked to order, so even a simple takeout box can take an eternity to prepare, and the only real appetizer is a dish of marinated daikon cubes. But then the chicken comes out, hacked into tiny, random pieces, all garlic and juice, heat and crunch. Satori that squawks like a bird. 3833 W. Sixth St. (213) 739-9292.

Soondae, Korean blood sausage, has always had its place in Koreatown. It's good stuff — thin hog casings stuffed with a restrained, mildly seasoned pudding of ox gore laced with transparent noodles. Soondae can be fried into a sort of crisp scrapple or served boiled in soup steamed or cut into chunks and stir-fried with chile paste and vegetables. But Koreatown is going through its soondae moment — there are a dozen specialists now, and a hundred other kitchens with reputable versions. At Eighth Street Soondae, one of the oldest and most respected of L.A.'s soondae parlors, the blood sausage is treated less as a racy snack than as a necessity of civilized life, in a thoroughly bourgeois dining room where the street-level snack is consumed with aplomb and plenty of napkins. 2703 W. Eighth St. (213) 487-0038.

Clay pot duck

Dha Rae Ok may be the most worn-looking barbecue place on Western: veneers rubbed to the wood beneath, cases of beer piled against the wall in a dining room. On one visit, the flat-screen TVs on the walls were showing a video demonstrating intestinal polyp-removal surgery, which may be the single most disturbing thing I have ever seen in a restaurant. The galbi may be great I've never tried it. But if you call four hours in advance and reserve, as discovered by Scoops Westside proprietor Matt Kang, there is also clay pot duck, prepared in a special oven. The duck appears at table, wrapped in a charred bandage of cloth. When the cloth is unrolled, the duck itself is pale. A chewy stuffing of purple rice cooked with beans and aromatics spills out of its interior the powerful scent of Korean herbs inhabits every molecule of the flesh. It is soft enough to eat with a spoon. Spectacular. 1106 S. Western Ave. (323) 733-2474.

Everybody knows the best sujebi, hand-torn flake noodles, in town. They're the ones that the waitress flings into your soup at the crab restaurant Ondal 2, right after you have plucked the last clump of back fin from the pot of boiling broth. And those sujebi do taste good, having soaked up the broth and all, although their texture sometimes is uncomfortably close to wadded white bread. Which brings us to the chewy, stretchy sujebi at MaPo Kkak Doo Gee, which are served in a plain yet delicious anchovy broth: just right. The restaurant, a high-quality neighborhood café named for its signature radish pickle, is also a great place to go for simmered black cod, spicy beef soup with leeks, and bibimbap. 3611 W. Sixth St. (213) 736-6668.

After several years and many gallons of soju devoted to the subject, I have determined that my favorite Korean dish is almost certainly bossam, a combination plate of steamed pork belly, raw oysters, special kimchi, raw garlic and a salty condiment that looks as if it's made by fermenting Sea Monkeys, all of which you wrap into a sort of cabbage-leaf taco. If you should find yourself thirsty and in need of a pork belly, you may as well hit up the Koreatown bossam specialist Kobawoo, a polished destination restaurant with some of the best food in Koreatown. The house bossam is an elegant preparation that, like so many other Korean dishes, seems almost custom-designed to ease down a bottle of soju. One caveat: It will seem tempting to order the King Bossam platter, because, you know, you're the man. But don't. It won't get you any more pork belly, but it will get you piles of steamed stingray and boiled pig's foot that you probably don't want. 698 S. Vermont Ave., (213) 389-7300.

The gestation for this guide probably began 18 months ago when I ran across Jangchung-Dong Wong, a jokbal restaurant jammed into a corner of yet another minimall. If the Koreatown restaurant scene was developed enough to support not just a restaurant specializing in boiled pig's feet but a crowded restaurant specializing in boiled pig's feet, there was still a lot to be explored. And while we have had our share of nasty boiled pig's feet, the jokbal platter at Jangchung-Dong Wong is just fantastic, slices of soft, gently simmered shank arranged over a mound of disassembled trotter. If you swapped out the banchan and the salted-shrimp dipping sauce, you can imagine meeting this jokbal on the table of the London offal restaurant St. John. 425 S. Western Ave., (213) 386-3535.

Su jung Gwa

It's not just that Hwa Sun Ji is the most serene corner of Koreatown. It's that it often seems as if Hwa Sun Ji is the only serene corner of Koreatown, a teahouse with low, traditional Korean tables if you're into that, rustic straw mats on the walls and a long menu of teas and herbal tisanes, each accompanied by a list of their health-promoting attributes. If you get a cup of, say, the aged green tea boi cha, you can spend an entire afternoon there, the hot water replenished every few minutes without you having to ask. Su jung gwa is what is often translated as Korean Punch, a cold, sweet drink made with dried persimmon and lots of cinnamon. You've undoubtedly been served a little cup of it as a dessert after a Korean meal. But the complex, tart-sweet beauty of su jung gwa really comes out at Hwa Sun Ji, the slightly syrupy quality, the subtle resinous smack of the pine nuts floating in your tiny cup. The teahouse is also famous for its restrained version of pat-bingsu, the Korean shaved-ice dessert that somehow evolved into Pinkberry. 3960 Wilshire Blvd., (213) 382-5302.

Howard County's best restaurants of 2018

With exciting new restaurants popping up on a regular basis and longstanding favorites continuing to shine, there’s never been a better time to be a food lover in Howard County.

More than 2,000 people voted in Howard Magazine’s Best Restaurants readers’ poll, selecting their favorites in 45 categories. Below, we present the eateries that earned top votes, and we share a little about what makes some of the county’s best spots oh-so-special.

Editor’s note: Winners and honorable mentions were determined by popular vote. Readers were invited to vote online in June and July.

Ambience: Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Bakery: Kupcakes & Co.

Bar food: The Ale House Columbia

Kelsey’s Restaurant & Irish Pub

Bare Bones Grill & Brewery

Bartender: Sam Waller, White Oak Tavern

Steven Wecker, Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Luke Shagogue, Aida Bistro

Barbecue: Mission BBQ

Bare Bones Grill & Brewery

Breakfast: Eggspectation

Brunch: Eggspectation

Burger: Victoria Gastro Pub

Chef: Christopher Lewis, formerly of Cured Table & Tap/18 th & 21 st

Thomas Zippelli, The Turn House

Greg Mason, The White Oak Tavern

Chinese: Hunan Manor

Cocktail: Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Coffee: Bean Hollow (closed)

Crab cake: Hudson Coastal

Deli: Boarman’s Old Fashioned Meat Market

13402 Clarksville Pike, Highland. 301-854-2883. facebook.com/boarmansmeatmarket

When Boarman’s Old Fashioned Meat Market opened in Highland in 1955, the market and deli had already been in business for over 15 years. The Boarman family, which has owned the market for four generations, takes pride in its longevity and in their dedication to making things from scratch.

From country sausage made from a family recipe to ham salad and deviled eggs, the Boarmans make as much as they can in-house, and the community loves it. Over Easter weekend alone, Boarman’s sold about 2,000 homemade deviled eggs.

Homemade salads and sausages “are things people don’t take the time to do anymore,” says Georgie Boarman, son of market owner George Boarman.

The Boarmans also work to make the market accessible to everyone in the community. “We don’t want to be the high-end, high-priced store that only a certain group of people can shop at. We want everyone to feel like they can come in and buy a good steak and fresh produce,” says Georgie Boarman.

Dessert: Iron Bridge Wine Co.

Fine dining: Stanford Grill

Food truck: T&J Waffles

Gluten-free options: Great Sage

Happy Hour: The Phoenix Emporium

8049 Main St., Ellicott City. 410-465-5665. phoenixemporium.net

It’s been a challenging few years for The Phoenix Emporium, the popular, beer-centric bar and restaurant that has been part of the Ellicott City community for four decades. Located at the bottom of the hill on historic Main Street, The Phoenix Emporium was forced to close following floods in 2016 and 2018.

But like its name suggests, The Phoenix Emporium rose from metaphorical ashes, reopening after both floods this year, its reopening day was in late August.

Despite the closures, the bar retained a steady crew of happy hour regulars, who visit for the dedicated and friendly staff, the charm of the cozy space and for the menu and terrific daily deals.

The bar does not have a draught system, but it does boast a huge selection of beers: about 210 available on any given day. Happy hour, which runs from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every weekday, includes $3 domestic beers, rail drinks and glasses of wine, and $5 deals on most appetizers.

Bare Bones Grill & Brewery

Healthful menu: Great Sage

House-brewed beer: Jailbreak Brewing Co.

Ellicott Mills Brewing Co.

Ice cream/frozen yogurt: Soft Stuff

Indian: Royal Taj

Italian: Tino’s Italian Bistro

Japanese: Sushi Sono

Korean: Honey Pig Korean BBQ

10045 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City. 410-696-2426. honeypigbbq.com

In recent years, Howard County’s Korean food scene has gained national fame. A trip to the Ellicott City location of Honey Pig BBQ, the local outpost representing the small chain of restaurants owned by Micky Kim, makes it easy to understand why.

“A Korean meal is an experience,” says Honey Pig’s marketing director Hanna Kuark. Meals start with banchan, or small dishes, like kimchi and tofu, designed to whet the appetite. Main courses are grilled by diners, at the table. It’s a fun, interactive way to dine that’s inspired by Korean family meal traditions.

Honey Pig’s most popular dishes include beef bulgogi, beef kalbi and spicy pork belly. “We are focused on making the best possible sauces, and it’s something we work on constantly,” says Kuark. “We work hard to create the environment and taste of what a Korean meal would be like in Seoul.”

She suggests that Honey Pig first-timers let the staff know they’re new to the restaurant they’ll create a tasting menu as an introduction to the flavors of Korea.

50 States of Brunch

Sure, breakfast may be the most-important meal of the day, but brunch is the most-important — and most-anticipated — meal of the week.

Related To:

Photo By: Colette Cannataro 2016 ©Manny Vargas Photography

Photo By: Samantha Egelhoff

©2016 Catherine Carty. All rights reserved.

Photo By: Atomic Provisions, LLC

Photo By: Koko Head Cafe/Lee Anne Wong

Photo By: Stephanie Manning

Photo By: Bridget M. Rehner

Photo By: Pullman Bar & Diner

Photo By: Matt's Big Breakfast

Photo By: Tilikum Place Café

Photo By: J. Pollack Photography

Photo By: Tally’s Silver Spoon

Photo By: City Grocery Restaurant Group

Photo By: Galley and Garden

Brunching Without Borders

Whether you&rsquore craving New England seafood Benedicts, Southern biscuits stuffed with shrimp and grits, or eggs smothered in Southwestern chile sauce, here are 50 states&rsquo worth of best brunch bets.

New Haven, Connecticut: Elm City Social

At Elm City Social, guests are encouraged to actually be social by sharing dishes, even at brunch time. The Early Nachos are a great way to start a family-style morning meal. Potato chips made from scratch are fried to order, topped with a homemade triple cheese sauce and seasoned with salt and pepper. The gooey chips are then covered in house-cured bacon and Italian sausage slowly sauteed with onions and red and yellow bell peppers. Sweeten the table with Red Velvet Waffles, which are baked, then topped with fresh berries, whipped cream and creme anglaise. The restaurant serves pitchers of punch as well as the Bloody Marys made with a house mix of San Marzano tomatoes and garnished with a strip of house-cured bacon and a deviled egg.

Baltimore: Artifact Coffee and Woodberry Kitchen

Renowned in Baltimore for its farm-to-table commitment, Woodberry Kitchen is a treat at brunch, when the converted factory space is bright with sunshine and packed with diners hungry for wood-fired Morning Flatbread (sausage, ham, potatoes, browned onions, cheddar and farm eggs), the Mobtown Fry (Maryland crab, ham, scrambled eggs and rye toast), Chesapeake oysters and drinks like Counter Culture coffee and day cocktails made with local ingredients and spirits from area distillers. Across the way, sister spot Artifact Coffee offers breakfast all day, every day, including oatmeal and cereals made from locally grown and milled grains and a simple but don’t-miss egg and sausage sandwich served on a griddled English muffin.

Charleston, South Carolina: Poogan's Porch

This sunny spot housed in an 1888 grand Victorian has attracted locals, celebrities and politicians for more than 40 years. The fare here is Low Country cuisine with an innovative approach to classics like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, a pimento cheese BLT and a Low Country omelet with Southern ham. And the name Poogan? It belonged to a neighborhood dog who was once a fixture of the porch. When the restaurant moved in, he was the de facto greeter.

Madison, Wisconsin: Graze

Cheese is what’s for brunch at Madison’s Graze. That’s not only because the restaurant is located in the heart of Cheesehead country, but also because the cheese here is sourced from local farmers. Start off with the gastropub’s cheese curds made with Hook’s Cheese Company curds that have been coated in a vodka-based batter and flash-fried. The vodka helps the outside stay crisp while the curds become gooey. Next up, there’s the Breakfast Sandwich with “brick” cheese from Widmer’s. Brick is a common cheese in Wisconsin, but the Widmer’s is aged for more punch and flavor — and it’s spreadable. The cheese is generously spread on house-baked bread, layered with ham and bacon sourced from Willow Creek and topped with spinach and fried eggs.

Houston: State of Grace

Warm and slathered with cream cheese frosting, State of Grace&rsquos sticky-sweet cinnamon rolls lure fans from all around Houston. Follow them up with Chef Ford Fry&rsquos flaky ham biscuits with prosciutto-peach jam or Southern-inspired takes on locally sourced seafood. Choices include shrimp and grits and the Crawfish Benedict with bacon and crawfish étouffée, cornbread, poached eggs and Creole hollandaise. There are also plenty of local Gulf oysters to round out a Hill Country feast.

Ann Arbor, Michigan: Spencer

What started as a pop-up quickly morphed into a permanent brick-and-mortar addition to Ann Arbor&rsquos culinary scene. Spencer is part wine and cheese shop and part shareable-plates spot, switching gears to brunch mode on weekends. The offerings change frequently and usually tend toward a theme dreamed up by dream co-owner duo Chef Abby Olitzky and Cheesemonger Steve Hall. Nordic day, for example, yielded rye pancakes topped with gravlax, creme fraiche, roasted beets and lots of dill. Inventive creations pop up here and there, like the chocolate babka pancakes. The regular menu includes seasonal rotating quiches, layered and flaky housemade biscuits, scones and little sandwiches for smaller appetites.

New Orleans: Commander's Palace

There is no other city in America that offers the food, architecture and live music of New Orleans &mdash and few other places take advantage of that during brunch quite the way Commander&rsquos Palace does. A city landmark established in 1883, with its unmistakable turquoise-and-white striped facade, the elegant restaurant has focused on haute Creole cuisine in a kitchen presided over by the likes of Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon and now Tory McPhail. On weekends, Joe Simon&rsquos Jazz Trio parades around the restaurant playing festive music while some diners dive into a three-course brunch and others join the band and march in the &ldquosecond line.&rdquo If you&rsquore too shy to hop along, focus on the food and cocktails like a Bloody Mary spiked tableside with vodka encased in an ice block.

Denver: Denver Biscuit Co.

Florida native Drew Shader runs multiple restaurant concepts under one roof, rotating them at different times of the day. The day begins with brunch-centric Denver Biscuit Co., serving a biscuit recipe that took six months to perfect, perhaps due to Denver&rsquos 5,280-foot elevation. These delicate pillows of pastry (produced with lots and lots of butter, as Shader explains) are baked throughout the day, so there&rsquos not a single one that&rsquos out of the oven for longer than 30 minutes. Favorite biscuit combinations include the Shrimp and Grits &mdash a hollowed-out biscuit filled with the classic New Orleans combo &mdash and the Dahlia, French toast biscuits soaked in egg batter, griddled and fried with butter, then topped with a homemade sausage patty, a fried egg and a good dousing of maple syrup. But the most-popular order is the Franklin: fried chicken, bacon, cheese and sausage gravy, which Shader says he uses by the gallon.

Anchorage, Alaska: Snow City Café

When you find yourself in Alaska, aka The Last Frontier, head to Anchorage's Snow City Cafe, a breakfast spot that extends its hours on weekends to accommodate late sleepers. Year-round this breakfast-all-day place poaches more than 100 eggs per day, on top of the hundreds of eggs used in their omelets, breakfast plates and sandwiches. Don't miss the ultra-gooey sticky buns. For a true Alaskan breakfast, try the Kodiak Benedict, a local King crab cake lightly breaded with panko breadcrumbs on a toasted English muffin, topped with housemade hollandaise sauce and green onions.

Wilmington, Delaware: 8th and Union

Take a culinary tour of Vietnam and Thailand at this modern gastropub. Thai summer rolls inspire an omelet of shrimp, avocado and herbs. Chef Brian Ashby’s go-to is pho, a Vietnamese soup he fell in love with and ate every day in Sydney, Australia. Gluten-intolerant, the chef offers plenty of gluten-free options, including the pho and the chicken and waffles: The chicken is dredged in buttermilk, then dipped in a rice-flour batter and fried to order. The drinks, including lychee, passion fruit and mango mimosas, also have a unique Asian flair.

Minneapolis: Hola Arepa

After testing Minneapolis’ arepa waters with a food truck, the folks behind Hola Arepa opened a brick-and-mortar location in a former gas station and convenience store in the Kingfield neighborhood. While the Venezuelan corn pancake is the menu’s focus, there are plenty of dishes from other Latin American cuisines to round out a meal. The Brazilian chicken cachapas, a play on American chicken and waffles, marries a sweet corn pancake with a fried egg, mesquite bacon and charred corn and jalapeno, which make it bright and crunchy. For beverages, the housemade horchata morphs from season to season, taking a frozen form in summer and then becoming a take on eggnog, mixed with rum, allspice dram and bitter amaro, in winter.

Raleigh, North Carolina: Beasley's Chicken + Honey

At celebrated Southern chef Ashley Christensen’s Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, the menu is brimming with childhood favorites. Christensen’s signature dish pays tribute to her mom’s recipe, with a drizzle of honey that nods to her father, who was a hobbyist beekeeper. The bird is brined, dipped in buttermilk, then dredged in flour and cooked in a pressure fryer. At brunch, it’s paired with waffles and also featured in The Reunion sandwich, stacked inside a buttermilk biscuit that’s topped with a fried egg, cheese and Tabasco sauce. Pair the sandwich with the Benton’s Old Fashioned: bacon-fat-washed bourbon (made in-house) with maple syrup and bitters.

Indianapolis: Milktooth

Milktooth knows a bit about brunch: Brunch is its sole focus &mdash six days a week &mdash and it&rsquos become a national phenomenon. Chef-Owner Jonathan Brooks&rsquo menu spans the continents. He recommends starting with Japan&rsquos morning staple, a Spicy Miso Soup with pickled kombu, beech mushrooms and soft tofu. It is the very first dish Brooks wanted to serve, even before the restaurant officially opened. He likes that the soup represents international comfort food beyond typical American dishes. Brooks elevates the classic New York bagel and cream cheese by toasting a housemade bialy, slathering it with whipped cream cheese and confit of bluefin tuna that&rsquos been cured overnight, poached in olive oil and then lightly tossed with aioli, celery and sweet onions, and topping it all with fried capers. Those looking for "hair of the dog" should go for the Cure for Jerks, a sherry-and-whiskey-based cocktail that should straighten them out.

Manhattan Beach, California: Love & Salt

Brunch at Manhattan Beach's Love & Salt is worth fighting LA traffic. Why? New York-born chef-turned-SoCal resident Michael Fiorelli serves what are arguably the most-memorable buttermilk English muffins in the country. These pillowy starters come with a slab of house-cultured butter sprinkled with a dusting of sea salt and fried rosemary sprigs. That's not the only dish worth the freeway snarl: The Smoked Salmon Everything Bagel with whipped cream cheese, Wood Oven Baked Eggs, Chicken Sausage & Egg Sandwich, Ricotta Pancakes and Warm Italian Donuts (a creation of pastry chef Rebecca Merhej) are near-mandatory follow-ups. Those in the mood for something lunch-y should opt for the Downlow Burger, an ode to the iconic In-N-Out Double-Double. The bar's well-crafted daytime cocktails and bottomless brunch offerings &mdash including a light Strawberry Spritz &mdash only enhance the enjoyment. After the meal, stroll down the hill and walk along the Pacific Ocean.

Washington, D.C.: Alta Strada

Two food classics unite at Executive Chef-Owner Michael Schlow's Italian restaurant, Alta Strada. The Everything Bagel Pizza, a hybrid of two iconic dishes, satisfies breakfast and lunch needs in one fell, carb-loaded swoop. Egg-washed dough gets a sprinkle of housemade everything spice — a classic combination of black and white sesame, poppy and caraway seeds mixed with dried onion and garlic flakes. The pizza is baked with ricotta and fontina cheeses, then, once out of the oven, it’s topped with smoked salmon, mascarpone cheese, capers, shaved red onion, cherry tomatoes and dill.

Portland, Maine: Union at the Press Hotel

Set inside the award-winning Press Hotel — named for its former use a newspaper factory— Union Restaurant lures tourists and locals alike with regional ingredients in comforting preparations. In lieu of a bagel and lox, try the smoked salmon tartine on pumpernickel bread, topped with shaved hard-boiled eggs, pickled onions, caperberries and everything-bagel spice, as well as local Maine salmon. There’s also a lobster roll perked up with lemony mayonnaise. Order a side of Brussels sprouts, which are crisped and served with a walnut aioli and charred-lemon olive oil.

Honolulu: Koko Head Cafe

Surfers work up big appetites catching morning swells, and on Oahu, many of them head straight for Koko Head Cafe. At the strictly breakfast-and-brunch spot, celebrity chef Lee Anne Wong designs her dishes around produce and proteins she sources direct from the islands, for creative spins on local favorites. There are sweet and savory options. Cornflake French Toast is composed of two pieces of local Punalu'u sweet bread dredged in coconut custard and then rolled in cornflakes, fried until crispy and topped off with a creamy black pepper-maple syrup. The Koko Moco, a take on local comfort food loco moco, is served on a bed of crisp-bottom garlic rice with a grass-fed local beef patty, homemade mushroom gravy, a sunny-side-up egg from local farm Kalei, tempura-fried kimchi, togarashi, sesame seeds and scallions.

Leawood, Kansas: Tavern at Mission Farms

Housed in a sprawling brick building, Tavern at Mission Farms is the place to go in greater Kansas City for a celebratory brunch. It offers an array of lunch-y and brunch-y items like the cinnamon-sugar quinoa, which is a hot cereal with toasted almonds, dried apricots, vanilla yogurt, fresh berries and rosemary honey, and a savory, hearty short rib hash with sauteed potatoes, onion, peppers and tender pulled beef short rib, topped with poached eggs and a zesty chimichurri sauce.

Cleveland: The Greenhouse Tavern

Anyone who says french fries aren’t a morning food should swing by The Greenhouse Tavern for No Name Frites. Composed of twice-fried Belgian-style frites topped with melted mozzarella curds, bacon lardons, black pepper gravy, fried eggs and mustard seeds, the hearty poutine is brunch perfection. Pair it with a side of chicken wings, which are confited for eight hours, air-dried for 24 hours, deep-fried until golden brown, then tossed with fresh lemon, roasted jalapeno and green onions.

Philadelphia: Wm. Mulherin's Sons

A rustic Italian restaurant, Wm. Mulherin&rsquos Sons serves weekend fare that includes Eggs on a Volcano (a take on Israeli shakshouka), family-style Steak and Eggs, and a sweet-and-savory doughnut sandwich. The doughnut was added to the menu as an homage to breakfasts of one&rsquos youth, with the hopes it would have the additional benefit of helping to cure guests&rsquo hangovers. A hybrid of two morning classics, the dish piles smoked ham, fried eggs and Fontina cheese between halves of a squishy, freshly baked glazed doughnut, all served beside fried potatoes and caramelized onions.

Asbury Park, New Jersey: Porta

Asbury Park brings to mind the Stone Pony, where Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band got their start. But those who make a Boss-inspired pilgrimage should also stop in at Porta. The restaurant&rsquos focus is authentic Neapolitan pizza, which is offered alongside dishes like Eggs in Purgatory, eggs poached in bubbling San Marzano tomato sauce with lashes of ricotta salata. The closest thing to a bacon, egg and cheese in pizza form is the Carbonara: guanciale, Parmigiano Reggiano, egg, parsley, black pepper and olive oil. While you won&rsquot find Bruce playing, there&rsquos live jazz and lines out the door &mdash people waiting for the $5 mimosa carafes available at the bar.

New York City: Russ & Daughters Cafe

Sunday in New York has always been about bagels and lox. For the last century, the bagels have ideally been dressed with silky-smooth smoked fish from Russ & Daughters on Houston Street. In 2014, the fourth generation of the Russ family opened a sit-down restaurant, Russ & Daughters Cafe, where devotees can dine on platters of smoked fish and other traditional Jewish foods. A way to get a little nosh of everything is to order the Hattie Platter, composed of an assortment of traditional smoked fish — whitefish, kippered (baked) salmon, Gaspe Nova smoked salmon, sable — and presented with accoutrements including plain and scallion cream cheese, tomatoes, onions, capers, pickles (direct from the barrel) and pickled vegetables. It’s served with the house breadbasket, which is brimming with bagels, bialys, rye bread, pumpernickel bread and challah that’s baked at Russ & Daughters Bagels & Bakery. With a second cafe at the Jewish Museum on New York’s Fifth Avenue, Russ & Daughters offers two chances to nab a seat on a Sunday.

Iowa City, Iowa: Pullman Bar & Diner

Pullman Bar & Diner's owner, Cory Kent, serves only local, organic eggs at this downtown Iowa City favorite. A menu staple that showcases the egg in all its grandeur is the Croque Madame. With bread sourced from the Bread Garden in Iowa City, the sandwich is stuffed with thinly sliced ham drenched in a cheesy Mornay sauce and crowned with a sunny-side-up egg. The granola-crusted brioche French toast’s crispy outer crust is softened with a dollop of maple butter, and the toast has a filling of house preserves. For a local spirit, try the Tipsy Pig, an old-fashioned maple-walnut cocktail that’s made with local whiskey and that includes house-cured bacon and an orange garnish.

Phoenix: Matt's Big Breakfast

When connecting through the Phoenix airport, make your way to Matt's Big Breakfast in Terminal 4. But if you’re lucky enough to have a weekend in the Valley of the Sun, head to the original Matt's, where the team’s been slinging morning favorites for over a decade. As the name indicates, breakfast is the theme, and it’s served all day, every day. Owner Matt Pool seeks out ingredients from quality purveyors around the country, for dishes like Salami and Eggs with soppressata flown in from San Francisco’s world-famous Molinari. If you're down for some more pork with your eggs, go for The Chop & Chick: two eggs, a pesto-marinated, skillet-seared Iowa pork rib chop, toast and your choice of potatoes. Served on the bone, this meaty and juicy chop is fit for a caveman.

Manchester, New Hampshire: The Local Moose

With beans sourced from a roaster in nearby Amherst, The Local Moose makes great coffee. Pair some with the Free Ranger Egg Sandwich. Served since late 2015, the beloved sandwich has already gained a large following. This egg sandwich is dressed up with Vermont cheddar and served on a house-baked brioche bun made with locally sourced honey. Customers can add locally smoked, nitrate-free bacon or ham, local greens, avocado or tomato (when in season). Variations on the Free Ranger are added to the menu each month, such as the Apple Free Ranger (local apples sauteed with brown sugar, local butter, apple pie spices, an egg and cheddar), the Butternut Squash Free Ranger (a Swiss-topped spread of egg and roasted squash) and the Kale Free Ranger (sauteed kale with chile-maple pecans, an egg and more of that tangy Vermont cheddar). New to the roster: beer-inspired doughnuts, a collaboration with a local brewery that&rsquos yielded sweets such as the peanut butter chocolate milk stout topped with roasted peanuts.

Portland, Oregon: Tasty n Alder

In all likelihood, the line of customers eager to get into Tasty n Alder will stretch down the sidewalk before the doors even open. Insiders know to gear up for a wait in line by ordering a chocolate potato doughnut with creme anglaise from the bartender to curb hunger. Once seated, go for Tasty Steak & Cheddar Eggs or Korean Fried Chicken. The grilled Creekstone Farms hanger steak is served in a hot cast-iron skillet alongside a savory cornmeal pancake, cheesy scrambled eggs and a jalapeno butter melting over all of it. The Korean Fried Chicken yields battered boneless chicken in a sweet-and-spicy orange glaze made with fermented chile paste and ginger. It’s served over short-grain rice with housemade kimchi, marinated cucumbers and both a sunny-side-up egg and a pickled six-minute egg.

Oklahoma City: Packard's

Named for its setting inside a historic Packard car dealership, Packard's is far from an old-school restaurant. Start with the raspberry chocolate chip muffins or savory crab beignets. Wherever possible, the restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients, including the honey in the butter that&rsquos spread on the flapjacks, and coffee from local purveyors. The Fried Chicken Biscuit, slathered with pimento cheese, uses free-range chicken and eggs from Fisher Eggs in Bristow.

Seattle: Tilikum Place Café

Tilikum Place Café is known for its many iterations of the Dutch baby. The giant baked pancake starts with a batter similar to that of a popover &mdash a blend of flour, milk, eggs and salt, but no leavening agent. A Northwest classic, it is believed to have originated with European and Scandinavian immigrants adapting to American cooking styles. Chef-Owner Ba Culbert learned about them from an old family friend and became something of a Dutch-baby whisperer, experimenting with ingredients and flavors, and persevering despite occasional failures. Dishes rotate on and off the menu, but typically include savories like a bacon-broccoli-cheddar the Classic lemon with powdered sugar is always available. For bigger brunch appetites, in advance of ordering a Dutch Baby, tuck into the Tilikum Fry Up or Baked Eggs with asparagus, pancetta, Parmesan-peppercorn cream, dusted with bread crumbs for texture.

St. Louis: Half & Half

If s&rsquomores French toast, cinnamon-sugar doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce, warm oven-baked oatmeal or raspberry-granola-and-mascarpone-stuffed pancakes appeal to you for brunch, then Half & Half shouldn&rsquot disappoint. Husband-and-wife chef-owners Liz and Mike Randolph have served these and many other decadent dishes to their Clayton neighborhood for several years. The menu, overseen by Executive Chef Dale Beauchamp, also includes Mexican- and Asian-inspired dishes like Breakfast Fried Rice, scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, jalapeno and onions, and a chorizo-guacamole eggs Benedict. Half & Half is also a great place for morning coffee: The Randolphs have worked closely with local roaster Blueprint Coffee to develop their own custom blends they also feature a rotating guest roaster each month.

Omaha, Nebraska: Petrow's

The oldest restaurant in the Cornhusker State, Petrow's is a famed family diner that began as a candy and ice cream store. Now run by the third generation of the Petrow family, the restaurant serves a full menu, including excellent morning options. Of the classics, the highest ranking is the Omaha Potato Casserole, a savory combination of sausage, eggs, hash browns, onions and peppers. Regulars also love the chicken-fried steak and eggs, and the waffles topped with housemade ice cream &mdash chocolate, strawberry and black walnut &mdash and drizzled with maple syrup and crushed English walnuts.

Mandan, North Dakota: Frieds Family Restaurant

Not to be confused with the cinnamon roll, sticky bun or any other swirled morning pastry, the caramel roll is a staple of weekend mornings in North Dakota. At Frieds Family Restaurant, outside Bismarck, the staff has served this sticky goodie for more than 60 years. Doughy, golden and lacquered with a syrupy brown-sugar glaze, the delicacy is best devoured after chowing down on the Rancher's Special — hash browns, diced onion, peppers, ham and melted American cheese, all sitting beside two eggs and your choice of toast or pancakes.

Rapid City, South Dakota: Tally's Silver Spoon

For 60 years this Rapid City restaurant has been a destination for breakfast, lunch and brunch. According to current chef-owner Benjamin Klinkel, it was a staple meeting spot for the downtown workers. Back then, Tally&rsquos belonged to Tally Winter. Rather than change the name, Klinkel tacked on &ldquoSilver Spoon&rdquo and updated the brunch menu, adding items like Duck Duck Goose (sweet potato with onions, duck confit and gooseberry jam topped with foie gras and sunny-side-up egg) and an oatmeal waffle with vanilla-yogurt sauce. Despite the changes, he dared not change the pancake recipe, a recipe so guarded and beloved that Klinkel purchased it along with the shop&rsquos windows. The salty-sweet flavors of the hotcakes are due to the butter whipped with buttermilk, honey and salt, and to a heavy dousing of maple syrup. For $4.50, the Tally&rsquos Original gets you a pancake, bacon, sausage, ham and one egg. Add just $2.75 more to get a copy of the Rapid City Journal and coffee, too.

Park City, Utah: Glitretind Restaurant at Stein Eriksen Lodge

Glitretind Restaurant at the 5-star Stein Eriksen Lodge in scenic Deer Valley is known for its Sunday feast. For mountaineers looking to fuel up, the buffet spread includes salads, locally cured meats, smoked fish and stations of hot food, including a carving station with meats like the Double R Ranch prime rib of beef and Snake River Farms bone-in hams. There are dozens of options on the dessert table, along with Millcreek coffee, fresh-squeezed juice and warming hot chocolate. While it’ll slow skiers down from hitting the slopes again, it’s excellent fortification for any afternoon activity.

Photography courtesy of Stein Eriksen Lodge

Oxford, Mississippi: Big Bad Breakfast

Chef John Currence is enough of an expert on breakfast that he owns a restaurant called Big Bad Breakfast and penned the Big Bad Breakfast cookbook, sharing recipes based on his beloved Mississippi canteen. Head to the Oxford spot to feast on a plethora of eggs with steaks, chili, bacon, andouille sausage, chicken sausage, country ham, shrimp, crawfish and more. There are veggies, too, done up in what Currence calls “Yardwork” style, fried in a hot iron skillet with loads of seasonal produce. Basics like a house granola and oatmeal are simple and tasty, as the grain is from Anson Mills and the cereals are served with fresh berries.

Birmingham, Alabama: Galley and Garden

This white-tablecloth restaurant in a historic turn-of-the-century home on Birmingham’s scenic Highland Avenue perks up Sundays with live music. At the helm, veteran chef James Boyce designs an elegant menu of refined classics, including Southern shrimp and grits topped with poached eggs, and a rich brioche French toast stuffed with whipped goat cheese from Belle Chevre in nearby Huntsville. Added to the menu as a culinary experiment, this filling is sweetened with vanilla, orange zest and spices, with mixed berries whipped in at the end. Once stuffed, the steaming tower is topped with coffee syrup that’s made from the house blend and reduced with brown sugar and cinnamon to give it the proper consistency and sweetness.

Bozeman, Montana: Cateye Cafe

For more than a decade, Montanans have chowed down on down-home Big Sky cooking at the family-owned Cateye Cafe. The brunch menu offers all the greatest hits, plus scrambles, hashes, pumpkin-pecan pancakes and Arthun Ranch steak, which hails from Wilsall, just 40 miles away. The local meat is griddled and served with two eggs any style, toast and the house special Cateye potato cake.

This is the easiest and best recipe you&rsquoll find online. There is no need to poke the pork skin, there is no no vinegar in the recipe.

There is also no need to par-boil the pork belly before roasting.

The recipe calls for simple and few steps. Please refer to the video embedded on this page to learn how to make Chinatown worthy siu yuk at home.

The end result is very crispy pork crackling. The pork belly is also juicy, tender, with the melt-in-your-mouth pork fat.

The taste is a bit salty and aromatic. The aroma comes from the garlic and five-spice powder.

Oven Roasted Pork Hocks

Pork hocks might look kind of gristly and bone-y and uninviting, but they have a secret superpower: they can make any kind of soup delicious. And nothing against fresh hocks, but roasting them really deepens the flavor even more and adds some extra spice to the mix.

If you’re wondering what the heck a “hock” is, it’s the part of the pig where the foot was attached to the leg. It’s not technically part of the ham, but it’s also not quite the foot yet it’s the very end of the leg bone. All the sinew and bones and tendons are the best for adding flavor and gut-healing proteins to a broth, since that’s where the good stuff is.

For this recipe, you’ll want to get raw hocks (not pre-smoked, since there’s no point in roasting them if they’ve already been smoked). If you have very meaty hocks, you could just roast them, eat the meat (or use it in an omelet or another dish), and then throw just the bones into a soup. If there’s just not much meat on those bones, throw the whole roasted hock into the soup pot.

These (or even just the meat from them) would be really great in roasted cauliflower soup, winter vegetable soup, or ham and pumpkin soup (if you’re doing the first two, you might want to just make the broth for the recipe with the ham hocks, to get the maximum flavor out of them). Or pick your own favorite soup recipe and go to town!

Restaurants in LA’s Koreatown reel amid coronavirus rumor

In this Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020 photo, a customer eats a bowl of soup at a deserted food court in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles. Fears of the coronavirus combined with the speed and reach of social media can quickly cripple the healthiest of businesses. That’s what happened to several Korean restaurants in Los Angeles. Their business was hit hard by false rumors spread on social media that a Korean Air flight attendant with coronavirus dined there last week. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — In a Koreatown restaurant known for its beef bone broth soup, the lunchtime crowd Friday was half its normal size. The reason was a virulent rumor about a customer with coronavirus.

Han Bat Shul Lung Tang was one of five restaurants that lost business after being named in posts on a Korean messaging app that warned a Korean Air flight attendant with the virus had dined there during a layover in Los Angeles more than a week ago.

“It’s fake news,” owner John Kim said, and he had proof. His restaurant was closed at the time because of a water leak, a fact confirmed by the Department of Public Health.

The rumor about the flight attendant was dispelled Friday morning by the Republic of Korea consulate in Los Angeles. In a statement posted in Korean on Facebook, the consulate general said the attendant who visited Los Angeles on Feb. 19-20 had gone to two businesses but neither was in Koreatown. Later in the day, public health officials said the flight attendant was not contagious while in the city.

The rumor and the impact on the restaurants was a prime example of how fears of the virus combined with the speed and reach of social media can quickly cripple the healthiest of businesses and focus suspicion on ethnic communities.

The virus, which began in China, has been spreading worldwide and has taken a big toll lately in South Korea. Lawmakers and advocates for immigrant communities have warned about xenophobia and discrimination aimed at Asian Americans.

State Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, said Chinese businesses, in particular, were experiencing large economic losses as a result of racism and fear.

A group representing Koreatown restaurants said business in general was down about 50% since the rumor spread on the Kakao Talk app on Monday.

One message circulating on the app provided details of the flights the attendant worked on and listed the restaurants that said she purportedly visited with the message: “Please share with everyone to avoid these ktown spots,” using an abbreviation for Koreatown.

“In the Korean-American community here, it went like wildfire,” Alex Won said Friday as he ate a bowl of beef brisket soup at Han Bat Shul Lung Tang. “It’s sad.”

Won said he got the message from friends and family members, but never really believed it because it wasn’t reported in the news. He stopped at the restaurant at the start of the week and found it closed because of a water leak. He was happy to return for a late lunch Friday and was surprised to find he was the only diner.

“I’ve never seen it this empty,” he said. “There’s always people here.”

Owners of other restaurants named in the post said business died almost instantly.

At Honey Pig, a Korean barbecue restaurant with 25 tables, only six parties were seated during one bad day of business this week, owner Chin Kim said.

Customers had been calling to inquire if the rumors were true, and some asked more outlandish questions, Kim said. One woman who had dined at the restaurant recently called to ask if it was safe to attend her daughter’s upcoming wedding, Kim said.

Owners were frustrated they couldn’t get more information from public health officials. Korean news media reported Thursday that South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a female flight attendant who tested positive for the virus had traveled to Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said it was aware of reports about the flight attendant but had no confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention until late Friday. That’s when it said she did not develop symptoms of the illness known as COVID-19 until after leaving LA, so she posed no risk while in the city.

With a rumor they couldn’t confirm or deny, some restaurants took no chances. Video circulated on social media of a worker in a hazmat-type suit spraying down the floors at Hangari Kalguksu, a noodle soup house.

The sign outside Hanshin Pocha, a bar offering traditional Korean snack fare, boasts “never been closed since 1998.” Nevertheless, the establishment shuttered Tuesday to sanitize the restaurant. Bottles of hand sanitizer were lined up on a counter next to bottled water.

“It’s a bad rumor, but people like bad rumors,” said Jay Choi, manager of Hanshin Pocha.

Choi and others talked about the need to find and punish the person who started the rumor. He said he was looking into hiring a lawyer to take legal action.

On the streets of Koreatown, some pedestrians wore surgical masks. But they were not the norm.

Zhang Bin, a college student from China, and his roommate have worn the masks for protection since the virus broke out.

“I think even if the stewardess didn’t come to the restaurants, we still need to protect from the virus,” he said. “The speed and the spread of the disease is so fast.”

David Yim in Los Angeles and Jae Hong in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Yelp Washington, DC

I'm having a recession themed birthday party for 25-30 people. Anyone have an ideas on good places metro-accessible in Washington DC that can fit us into their restaurant without an extra fee. I want this to be a fun and affordable gathering for my friend. Some ideas I have been throwing around was Korean BBQ or Hibachi. it's sorta interactive and interesting but I doubt they can squeeze 25 people around a table.

To be clear, not snarky: you want a recession-themed party at a restaurant? It just seems counter intuitive. Like, to me, recession-themed dining would be campbells soup and some potatotes and stuff.

Haha..well I wanted baked beans in tin sauce pan. but it's not a Great Depression party..just want to keep it affordable for my guests.

25 people without an extra fee may be tricky. And I do think that one table will be especially hard to get without paying some kind of fee or deposit. A place that is not always crowded would probably be more accommodating. I don't know the DC dining scene THAT well, but to me a place that would fit 25, not charge a fee, and not be super busy would require something in the DC suburbs (which could still be metro accessible).

Counter to that train of thought, however- Have you thought of Zaytinya? It's the only thing I can think of that may be big enough in DC, nice enough for birthday, cheap enough for "recession," and maybe accommodating if you make reservations far in advance. I mean, they'll probably make you pay a deposit, but I'm thinking most fairly nice places would. Zaytinya's environment is pretty nice though- so I'm not sure it'd vibe with a recession theme. I was definitely thinking along Bassey's lines of canned soup, ramen, and potatoes!

Can you think of any place that has outdoor seating? Cause in California, those tend to be the easiest places to get large parties in without much hassle. Or Chinese restaurants. they usually don't give a F as long as you're paying at the end of the meal. And they've definitely got some BIG round tables.

Reader Interactions


Hi! Making this for Easter. Will a 2.81 lb boneless pork shoulder work for this recipe? And can you please help with cook time and liquid for an 8qt insta pot and for the size of pork? Thank you!

Yes, it will work just fine. You can add 5 minutes more to cook time and 1 cup water. Reduce the liquid using Saute mode.

I’m not going to rate this recipe because I haven’t done it. My husband and I were born and raised in Hawai’i and you really don’t need all that stuff to make really good Kalua pork. All you need it liquid smoke and a lot of Hawaiian salt. That’s it! The sugar, soy sauce and water are all not needed. We like making ours in a slow cooker instead which makes it absolutely amazing and worth the wait. I’m sure this one is yummy as well but the way my husband and I make ours reminds us of home without all that extra stuff. :)

Hi Stacey, thanks for your comment. Good to know about this dish from a local Hawaiian. :)

I assume we are cooking the pork on the little metal tray so it’s not sitting in the water, correct?

Would I need to add more water to the recipe for an 8 quart pot? Thanks!

Yeah, you may add 1/2 cup more water and reduce it with saute mode after pressure cooking.

Loved this recipe, used pork shoulder cut into smaller pieces, cooked for 60 minutes, NPR count was 1 hr 15 min (because I was at an appt & just kept it warm) and it was wonderful! This is definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing!

Forgot to add that I went a little shy of doubling the liquid Smoke ?

Lol, I love that stuff, it makes the Hawaiian Kalua Pork so much better. :)

This was Amazeballs! Since it was Cinco De Mayo, I had Hubby pickup fresh Corn Tortillas, Chips, and Salsa from our neighborhood Mexican Market. He picked up a 4.3lb. Picnic cut Pork. I microwaved 6 slices of butcher cut Bacon. I added the drippings to the pot along with the called for oil & browned the roast on all sides. I upped the ingredients due to the size of the meat. I added 1 3/4 cup of water (since the larger the meat, means more juices), 4 Tbsp Hawaiian Soy Sauce, and 4 Tbsp Brown Sugar to pot. Added meat back to pot sprinkled 3/4 tsp if Salt per pound ( 1 Tbsp ), and draped Bacon over the top. I decided to cook for 1 1/2 hrs. Since I recently made French Dip sandwiches from Julieseatsandtreats.com with life changing results. The extra cook time makes sure the connective tissue of the meat melts. This recipe deliver fallapart tender shreds of meat without any mushiness. This was wonderful on fresh tortillas with a little onion and grated Cotija cheese. Served with Mexican rice, Chips, and Salsa. Plan to use this recipe again this week to serve at my son’s High School Lacrosse Playoffs. Thank you for sharing another Beautiful recipe!

Thanks Tiff for trying this recipe! :)

Mexican carnitas and kalua pork are both made from the shoulder roasts in a similar manner, and end up pulled, but have different seasonings. Better to serve Carnitas with the above accompaniments. :)

I cook this today, turn out very good.
1) I put real bacon
2) use Hawaii sea salt , very tasty ,
thank you

Watch the video: The Honey Pig Korean BBQ (July 2022).


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