Yu Chun Naeng Myun (Ktown)

Yu Chun Neang MyunYu Chun Naeng Myun was brought to my attention by this post on delicious coma. The restaurant specializes in those toothsome cold Korean noodles, which made it the perfect choice for lunch one hot day last week.

The restaurant, located in the heart of Korea town, is on one leg of an L-shaped strip mall sharing a parking lot with some other businesses. The lot is small and there were no vacancies, so I just parked at an open spot on the street. Most of the servers only speak Korean with very rudimentary understanding of English, so either take a Korean-speaker with you if you want to ask questions, or just point and nod at menu. I did the latter.

The menu is limited, but it does have English translations under most choices. Since it was my first time there, I wanted to eat what the restaurant’s known for, so I ordered the spicy beef and raw fish cold noodles ($10).

The bowl of noodles and toppings came out along with a smaller bowl of iced soup, almost like a savory slushy. After the waitress cut my noddles with some scissors, I dumped the soup into the bowl and mixed, mixed, mixed.

One slurp and I was glad I braved the LA traffic to lunch at Yu Chun. The noodles were thin, chewy, and perfect. The soup was a healthy balance of tang and a little spice and had a savory richness that I can only guess comes from some sort of meat broth. The couple slices of beef in the soup were quickly devoured and I was left chewing on bite after bite of noodles with some raw fish and pickled veggies thrown in — not that I minded. The raw fish was hardly noticeable covered in the ample red chili paste. They didn’t taste fishy at all. The pickled veggies and red chili paste are a little pungent, like all good Korean pickles are, so don’t eat here if you’re going to meet a client afterward.

Yu Chun has a couple variations of the cold noodles, but what also caught my eye were the large dumplings on the menu. I’m definitely going to have to drag a friend with me next time so I can have my noodles and order the dumplings.

Yu Chun Naeng Myun
3185 W Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Yu Chun Naeng Myun in Los Angeles

Ma Dang Gook Su

Ma Dang Gook Su sits in a ubiquitous strip mall in K-town. If it didn’t have an unintentionally funny name, I wouldn’t have noticed it the couple times I drove by on Western. But because of that, it stuck in my head for a few months until I finally went to try it last night.

Ma Dang Gook Su

Like any decent Korean restaurant, we were presented with a couple plates of panchan as soon as we ordered. The kimchi was good and fermented, but not overly spicy or sour. There were also two shallow bowls of dongchimi: one with cabbage and carrots, the other with thin slices of radish and ice. The cabbage and carrots dongchimi was refreshing with that slightly carbonated taste that comes from fermentation.

Ma Dang Gook Su

For the vegan, we ordered thin noodles in a soy-bean broth. Originally, we wanted the handmade noodles, but it turned out those noodles had egg in them so they offered to make it with thin noodles. These were the chewy yam-flour noodles, I believe.

The soy-bean broth was incredibly creamy and had a strong nutty flavor, probably from sesame seeds. The broth was so creamy that we both thought there was milk in it, but since neither the vegan nor I had any ill side-effects after dinner, it’s possible that it’s dairy-free. I liked the creamy broth and chewy noodles, but the vegan thought the whole bowl was too bland.

Ma Dang Gook Su

I ordered a bowl of their house-made noodles with broth and clams. The noodles were chewy, but the outside was slightly soggy, as if they cooked their noodles at too high of a temperature. The broth was rich and thick, probably from the starch of the noodles. The clams weren’t anything special. As a whole, the bowl of noodles were simple and comforting.

Ma Dang Gook SuAfter I started digging into my bowl of noodles, the vegan noticed that some tables had a little jar of sauce that we didn’t have. I asked the waitress for some and she plopped down this jar of chili sauce. I put a couple healthy spoonfuls into my bowl and the soup instantly transformed into something ten times better. The sauce was salty, savory, spicy, and oniony all at the same time. I’m going to make sure to ask for this first thing the next time I come here.

Ma Dang Gook Su isn’t somewhere I’d go out of the way to eat at, but it was a good option that night because we were in the neighborhood. The hand-made noodles taste better than store-bought noodles, but I’ve had better. The waitresses speak very little English, which might be a hindrance to some, but they were nice and tried to answer our questions about the menu (which does come in English). The place seemed to have strictly a Korean clientele while I was there, which I guess means it has some authenticity. They’re cash only and our meal turned out to be $16 and some change sans tip.

View Larger Map

Ma Dang Gook Su
869 S Western Ave
Ste 1
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 487-6008

Park’s BBQ

Dating a vegan guy, it’s not everyday that I go to a Korean BBQ restaurant. When the BF actually agreed to go to Park’s BBQ for dinner this weekend, I jumped at the opportunity before he had a chance to change his mind.

Veggie Bimbimbap

We ordered the bibimbap with vegetables ($10) and told them to hold the egg. Supposedly, this was vegetarian, but it came with a dried radish kimchi that we were unsure of. I think it’s just dried radish and gochujang (a spicy Korean bean paste), but there’s always a slim chance that there’s mashed anchovy or small shrimp in it, although I don’t believe the BF had any ill side-effects. Other than the suspect radish kimchi, there was also lettuce (which wilted nicely after it was stirred into the smoking hot bowl), spinach, seaweed, some sort of Asian broccoli rabe, red kidney beans, and sprouts. Other than the lack of an egg, it looked and tasted like a pretty good bowl of bibimbap.

Beef rib soup with dduk

Not wanting to overwhelm the poor man with too much meat, I somehow refrained from ordering any BBQ to be cooked on the grill in the middle of the table. Instead, I ordered the beef rib soup with dduk (pounded rice ovals), which was a fantastic choice for $10. The broth was rich and had such depth of flavor that I couldn’t stop slurping it up even after I was full. The dduk was too soft, but that’s understandable considering it had been cooking in hot soup for so long. The meat was tender and tasty. The cooked, swirled egg on top just added to the perfection of this bowl. The soup also came with strands of yam noodle inside. It’s going to be tough not ordering this the next time I visit Park’s BBQ.

Me eatingWhen we had placed our order, we asked our waiter which of the panchan (Korean small appetizer plates) were vegetarian and he pointed them out when they came. The cabbage kimchi and radish kimchi are definitely not veggie friendly — they have anchovies or shrimp mixed into the paste. Supposedly, the cold Asian broccoli rabe and kabocha salad are both vegan.

Whenever I go to Park’s, I wonder if I’m getting the real deal: authentic Korean cuisine. In the back of my mind, I always think that if the waiters are nice and speak English, maybe the joint is too Americanized to be authentic. Fortunately, there are always plenty of Korean patrons in the restaurant and the food is pretty damn good. Even my Korean friends seem to like this place. Although the prices are a bit higher than that of other K-town BBQ restaurants, the meat quality is better and I’m okay with paying a few dollars extra for a waiter who understands English and is patient with questions about food.

View Larger Map
Park’s BBQ
955 S Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(213) 380-1717