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.
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.
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.
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.
The Skinny: A popular burger hub that’s been voted as one of the top 10 places in Los Angeles by the Huffington Post. Their signature dish is the Korean influenced Kalbi burger.
The High: The Kalbi Burger itself lives up to the hype. It’s juicy, messy, delicious, and everything The Counter is not. (:-X) The greens in it had the same vinaigrette at those $19.99 all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ places. The flame broiled short rib and ground chuck patty was flavorful thanks to the Kalbi aioli; even though it tasted more like Bulgogi. The toasted bread stayed together well despite my sloppy way of eating it. It also served as a piece of sponge to soak up all the delicious juices that tried to escape. The fries were crispy and tasty thanks to them being fried twice.
The Low: I remember the first time I went to Kalbi Burger I made the mistake of getting the Saigon. I was expecting it to taste like a Bahn Mi….but it didn’t. The pickled veggies needed more pickling.
Would you come back again? Yes! I got to try the Seoul Dog.
More Info: www.kalbiburger.com – $9.95 for a combo meal that has the Kalbi Burger, Fries, and a drink. $7.95 for just the burger.