Jonathan Gold's 60 Korean Dishes Every Angeleno Should Know
|Diners at Jae Bu Do wear a Michael Jackson-style white glove when grabbing the barbecued clams off the tabletop grill.|
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.
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.
Anne Fishbein Legendary Korean BBQ stalwart Soot Bull Jeep.
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.