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Koreatown

Ktown: Beer Belly

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The Skinny:  Beer Belly is a relatively new pub that opened up in the center of Koreatown.  It’s like a “where everyone knows your name” kind of place and is a welcoming hang out for the non-Koreans living in K-town.  It’s owned by a young couple who for some reason, seems to know everyone, even my co-workers and cousin!  The beer selection is solid and meant to pair up  with the items found on their good size menu and daily specials.  While they do offer full steak meals to justify having dinner there, they also have fried Twinkies and Oreos; so you don’t have to wait for the county fair to get that fried lard induced heart attack.

 

I went with Echo and my cousin Wendy, who works at Beer Belly, and we ordered:

Citizen Garlic Tapatio Wings (which uses the Cismontane Citizen Steam Lager),
Duck Fat Fries w/ Raspberry Mustard and Duck Skin Cracklings
Cornbread Fried Okra w/ Frankenstein Ketchup
Mac n Beer Cheese (w/ Bacon, Orzo Pasta, and a Sunnyside Egg on top),
Grilled Cheese (4 decker w/ Asiago, Gruyere, Goat cheese, Bacon, Maple Syrup Drizzle)
Lamb Meatballs (on Baguette w/ Red Curry Marinara, Tzatziki, Dill).

And we drank:

Bootleggers Spring Ale
Ladyface Blind Ambition
Craftsman Triple White Sage
Taps Irish Red

The Good:  Everything was solid and the beer we drank did match well with the food we ate.  The Cornbread Fried Okra were tasty Hush Puppies that were complimented with the A1-ish dipping sauce which gave them a nice bold kick and zing.  I didn’t really notice the Okra, but I guess it kind of balances out the guilt since it’s a vegetable hidden in fried corn breading.  The Duck Fries were really crispy and the scent of Duck Fat was quite noticeable, but what really helped the fried strips of potatoes taste good was the Raspberry Mustard.  It helped cut through the fat with it’s play on salty and sweet.  I just wished the Duck Skin Cracklings were a little big larger and more noticeable.  If you’re going to make a guilty pleasure even more guilty, then you might as well go all the way. The Citizen Garlic Tapatio Wings were good too and had a nice heat that creeps up on you after your done eating them.  The Mac N Beer Cheese with Bacon and a Sunnyside Egg was as gooey, creamy and salty as it should be.  I just wished I had some Tobasco sauce to dot that runny yellow eye for good measures.

By the time we got to the Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Maple Syrup, I was pretty much tapped out on space in my stomach.  I can’t say I liked it because of the state of mind I was in at the time, but I do think it’s a nice play on the Montecristo.  The slices of Bread used to make that sandwich were actually pieces from a Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  I did have to force myself to try the Lamb Meatballs, and while they were tasty….I kind of wished they were in a bowl of Chili.  mmm…Red Curry Marinara Chili with Lamb and Tzatziki sauce!

Of the beers that I had, the most memorable one was the Bootleggers Spring Ale.  It was herby, a bit spicy, and had a nice hint of Honey.  I think it would be the perfect Autumn beer to have since it reminded me of Pumpkin Spice ice-cream.  I do remember liking the Ladyface Blind Ambition Ale, but at the moment I don’t remember what it tasted like.  However, the Craftsman Triple White Sage was….well….SUPER SAGEY.   It wasn’t bad and it did pair up well with the Lamb Meatballs, but it wasn’t my favorite.

The Somewhat Bad:   They don’t have a burger and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be having one any time soon.  I think a good quality burger at an affordable price with some unique creative touches would be well respected and garner a loyal following anywhere.

Would you come back again?  For the prices they offer and the friendly staff that works there, I can see myself being a regular there.  I think I’ll have everyone call me “Norm.”

More Info: www.beerbellyla.com  | 532 S. Western Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90020 — (213) 387-2337  |  food prices range from 5 to 20 bucks  |  beer on tap range from 5 to 9 bucks while their bottled selection can go up to about 20 or so.  |  The place is Iphone friendly, so if you have a playlist you want to share, you can do so at Beer Belly.  Just DL the app. | Ask for Wendy, she’ll help you figure out which beer goes well with what.

MJ

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Moodaepo II

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The Skinny:  Moodaepo 2 is another gas powered All You Can Eat Korean BBQ restaurant found in Ktown.  There are two no-limit combos to choose from on the menu.  Combination A has both seafood and barnyard animals for just 19.99.  Then for only 16.99, you can get combo B which just has the pork, beef, and chicken.

What makes Moodaepo 2 different from other Korean BBQ All You Can Eat places, is the night club atmosphere.   There are flat screen television sets everywhere with Kpop music videos playing on all of them.  If someone is celebrating their birthday there, the whole restaurant dims out the lights and plays a happy jingle for that special person.

The Good:  It was cheap and the meat seemed to be good quality.  With a group of 10 people, we ordered probably more than 20 servings of Seasoned Sirloin, Pork Belly, Pork Neck Meat, Small and large Intestines , Brisket, and Beef Rib Meat.  The Pork Belly was thick and succulent while the Rib Meat were tender and juicy.

The Bad:  The food was good, because it wasn’t great.  While the side dishes were minimal and the service suffered because of the packed house of hungry customers, the only thing I really dislike about Moodaepo is the Korean night club atmosphere.   It felt cheesy and made my dining experience feel like I was eating in a crowded metro bus since I was elbow to elbow with my fellow diners.

Would you come back again?  Not if I had a choice, I’m just not a fan of All You Can Eat Korean BBQ places.  I prefer restaurants like ChoSun Galbee on Olympic, their quality over quantity menu, and the outdoor seating area they have.

More Info:  Moo Dae Po II website | 3014 W 7th St | Los Angeles, CA 90005 | (213) 381-9990 | Menu


Dan Sung Sah

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The Skinny:  Dan Sung Sah is a M*A*S*H themed Korean pub where all the furniture is made out of wood and people use worn out utensils that seem like they were used during the Cold War.   The place serves Korean style fried goodies, mystery meats grilled on sticks, free communal soup, and cold Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine) that comes in a tea kettle.

The Good:  I usually always get the Dalk Dong Jib (Chicken Butt House), Chicken Wings, and Daeji Kalbi (Korean Pork Ribs).  The Dalk Dong Jib are  Chicken Gizzards fried with Garlic Cloves and sprinkled with Jalapenos and crack (MSG).   The stuff is addictive and I always get it when I go to Dan Sung Sah.

The Chicken Wings are not Buffalo style and there is no sticky sweet sauce.  They are lightly breaded, fried to perfection, and maybe sprinkled with some crack as well.  I especially like how the cartilage at the ends of each wing are fried up nicely on their own and become crunchy.

Something new I did try was the sliced grilled Pork Belly that comes with a side of Green Onion Salad.  It was very tasty and unhealthy.

The Bad:  The only Rice they serve comes in a Kimchee Roll with Cheese…..and it’s not good.

How long have you been going there? For over 10 years!

More info:  Yelp | 3317 W 6th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020 | They finally have a menu in English.

– MJ


Han But Sul Lang Tang

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The Skinny: Han But is a Sul Lang Tang restaurant in Koreatown I’ve been going to for last tens years.  It’s a hole in the wall that specializes in a Beef Soup that has your choice of Brisket, Flank, Tongue, Intestines, Tripe, Spleen, or all of the above.  With each order of Tang(soup) you get a side of Ggakdugi (pickled Daikon), Napa Kimchi, and a bowl of Rice.  And to help personalize the overall flavor of the soup, you get to add your own helping of Salt, Green Onions, and Red Chili Paste. It’s as good of a hangover cure as Phở.

The Good: The Sul Lang Tang at Hanbut is always good.  It’s tasty, filling, and comforting, especially on a rainy day.  The soup itself leaves collagen on your lips from all the bone marrow sucked out while stewing and any meat you order melts away easily as you chew.  The Ggakdugi is aged just right, so it doesn’t have that offensive pungency you get from raw radishes.  The regular Kimchi isn’t my favorite, but it’s not bad either.  Han But is a no frills kind of place, you get in, eat well, and then get out.

The Bad: Nothing. Wished they served Soju though.

Would you come again? Does Geico commercials ask rhetorical questions?

More Info: Yelp | 4163 W 5th St. Los Angeles, CA 90020 | (213) 383-9499 | Mon-Sun 7 am – 10 pm | Cash Only

Extra: One street South of Han But Sul Lang Tang is a Cigar store that hand rolls their product on location.  The place is called Leon Cigars and their prices range from 3 bucks up to around 7.

I went there for dessert.

MJ


Spot Bar & Gastropub

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The Skinny: The Spot is a rather new restaurant found on the outskirts of Koreatown.  The self proclaimed managing foodies aspire to be like The Lazy Ox and  Father’s Office.  Their goal is to give affordable Gastropub food to college students, sports fans, and people that are not in the mood for Ktown.

The Good: The interior was nice, Dogfish was on tap, and the food was free.

The Bad: If Gordon Ramsey from “Kitchen Nightmare” came to this Spot, he’d use words that would be censored on cable TV and follow them up with “disgusting.”  I ordered the Mac & Cheese with Truffle Oil and Dogfish  to wash it down.  A co-worker who was with me at the time, got the Jalepeno Burger with fries and a Stone IPA.  I was going to order the sliders myself, but was warned that they were the frozen kind.  When the Mac & Cheese came out it was in the form of Bow Tie Noodles with loose white liquid as cheese.  I actually have no clue what Truffles are suppose to taste like so if it was in there, I wouldn’t have known.  I give credit to the marketing because the addition of the word “Truffle” certainly fooled me.   The dish wasn’t bad, but it was disappointing since I was expecting Elbow Noodles and a thicker Cheese encrusted with Bread Crumbs.  The Jalapeno Burger my co-worker got, now that’s a different story since I had half of it.  While I might have been saved from getting the sliders that were probably once cryogenized in the freezer section at Wal-Mart’s Superstore, the patty for that burger was like a hockey puck that’s been laying out under a hot sun for too long.  It came packaged nicely and the Fries were good, but I had to keep opinions to myself when a staff member asked me if everything was okay.  Later that evening my co-worker would spend a long cleansing time at his apartment’s bathroom.

When I went to The Spot, I was actually there because one of my co-workers had business with the manager.  She seemed really enthusiastic about the place and had a lot of ideas on how to make The Spot better, but unfortunately, if the food isn’t good, the place will struggle.  I’m sure Gordon Ramsey and Robert Irvine from “Restaurant Impossible”, would take one look at the menu and say,  “there’s just too many items.”  They’d both go into the kitchen and get rid of all the frozen pre-made ingredients and strip that menu down to a few signature dishes and seasonal specials.   Personally, if I ran the place, I’d invest in a good meat grinder instead of a web designer and buy meat from a local butcher like McCall’s Meat and Fish and make fresh burger patties on “The Spot!”  Then I’d build the whole menu around that all American classic.

The Spot has a lot of potential but it should focus first on making quality food instead of trying to cut corners in order to pay for temporary cosmetics.

Would you comeback? Nope, I rather go out of my way to The Lazy Ox and even the original and more crowded Father’s Office.  Of course, I haven’t tried all of their menu items so I can’t say all their stuff is bad.  I do wish The Spot staff  well because I don’t want anyone to fail at something they want to succeed in.

More Info: yelp them | www.myspotla.com

MJ