Gonjiam

How can you get Trojans and Bruins to sit together and get along?  Over some bomb Boodae Jjigae.  Okay, I exaggerate the nature of this rivalry.  I guess it’s not so relevant among friends.  And maybe taunting flares up when football games, basketball games, or the Olympic games are at stake.  But it ain’t too bad.  But among strangers… I don’t understand why they would choose to go to UCLA.  It’s a true puzzle to me.

So I met up with friends from my church to get some Boodae Jjigae.  In the mix there were some Bruins (H, CK, Dae), some Trojans (P, myself), a friend all the way from Valencia (Juboy), and a soon-to-be Bruin (goshjosh).  H had a serious craving for some Boodae Jjigae after reading my post on Hanilkwan.  And judging by how serious I perceived her cravings to be, I didn’t think the Boodae Jjigae at Hanilkwan would have been able to cut it.  It was a while since I’ve been to Gon-Ji-Am but I was hoping they would pull through.  I used to live near the place and would frequent it.  And they had bomb Boodae Jjigae back then.

And it’s still damn good.  Read the post on Hanilkwan to get a description of what Boodae Jjigae is.  For the seven of us, we had two orders of 3 servings of Boodae Jjigae.  They were more generous with the spam and sausage.  They had rice cakes in there.  It was a little spicier.  And to quote what H said, “boodaejjigae hit the SPOT.”  And you know the place is good if the clientele is for the most part middle-aged Korean men (“ahjushi” in Korean).

This place is hard to find.  The sign is in the picture above in the post.  It’s on Beverly and a couple blocks west of the Beverly and Western intersection.  It’s in a small strip mall and next to some small Korean club or bar that changes its name frequently.  Right now it’s called “자전거.”

Gon Ji Am
4653 Beverly Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone: 323.469.4648

Gon Ji Am on Urbanspoon

Leonidas

It’s sad.  Leonidas in Los Angeles, for the most part, was limited to a little shop in Larchmont Village.  Then one day, they decided to make an aggressive move by opening up several “Leonidas Cafe” franchises in various places in Los Angeles.  It was awesome; there were two Leonidas Cafes a couple minutes from where I live, one in Century City and the other on Beverly Drive.  Blame the recession or what people may have deemed as an inferior product, but I found out late last month that BOTH locations closed down.  I was sad.  But the store on Larchmont is still around, just a simple little chocolate shop like it always was.

So what is Leonidas?  It’s a Belgian brand of chocolates.  Imported Belgian chocolate.  Legit Belgian chocolate.  I don’t go goo-goo-ga-ga over chocolates, or sweets in general, but I do prefer these over Godiva.  They’re in the similar price range and I think Leonidas is a great alternative to Godiva.  Comparisons are probably not a great way to highlight something, but that’s all I can do for now.  I’ll just trust my choco-holic mom’s word when she says that Leonidas is better than Godiva.

And they make perfect gifts.  Who doesn’t like chocolates?  Excluding me of course.

Edit 11/15/09>  This location is Leonidas no longer.  They changed some month’s back to KC Chocolatier.  It seems as if the owners are still the same.  The chocolates are still Belgian.  And business has picked up since the franchise switch.

Kim’s Chocolates (KC Chocolatier)
201 N Larchmont Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90004
Phone: 323.860.7966

Graduation

The Hungry Trojan graduated today. But The Hungry Trojan will remain The Hungry Trojan because The Hungry Trojan, like all Trojans, is a Trojan for life!

Fight on!

Hamheung Hwaegwan (Hamheung Restaurant)

Naengmyun literally means cold noodles.  The two most typical ones are Mool-naengmyun and Bibim-naengmyun.  Mool-naengmyun is the cold noodles in a cool beef broth.  Bibim-naengmyun is the cold noodles in a spicy marinade which is like a watered-down and slightly sweetened red pepper paste.

I am of North Korean descent, my paternal grandparents are from the North.  My grandfather’s hometown is Gyesong and my grandmother’s home is in the Hamgyong province (the city of Hamheung is in this province), which is way up North.  Well, apparently, the North is known for their naengmyun.  My grandmother, being from the North, loves this stuff.  The Korean food in Baltimore is not so good.  Not surprisingly, the naengmyun is bad there too.  So when my grandparents are in LA, my grandmother makes sure she eats naengmyun as often as she can.

My grandparents are in town to see my graduation ceremony this Friday.  I’ll be the first of their grandchildren to graduate from college.  They flew in for that.  So having ended school, I figured I would show them around my school.  So I gave them a little tour.  Once that was done, without fail, we went to go eat naengmyun.

I took them to Hamheung Hwaegwan; they’re known for their Hwae-naengmyun, which literally means “fish naengmyun.”  The fish they use are skates.  On a side note, eating fermented skates was one bad experience.  Anyways, the Hwae-naengmyun is marinated in an almost bibim-naengmyun-ish marinade but it isn’t as spicy.  And there is some skate in there.  If you bite into something hard, don’t fret, the bones are edible.

I don’t really like naengmyun itself.  If I get the Mool-naengmyun, it’s because I want to drink the tasty broth to cool me down.  If I eat Hwae-naengmyun, it’s because I want to eat the fish.  I find the noodles itself hard to chew and swallow.  And usually 30 minutes after finishing my meal I get hungry again.   At Hamheung Hwaegwan, I figure they do the Hwae-naengmyun right.  It wasn’t too spicy and it had a slight sweetness to it.  The noodles for naengmyun just ain’t my thing and it was no different here.  Though I did like the fish in it.  We also ordered soondae (Korean blood sausages) and I think that did most of the fill-me-up part.  This restaurant is under the same ownership as Western Soondae.  Maybe it’s my bias, but I like the soondae at Western Soondae better.

Hamheung Hwaegwan is one of the older establishments in Koreatown.   So is Dong Il Jang.  So is Jun Won.  They’re all on 8th St.  8th St. is the old school Koreatown.  6th St. is the new.

Hamheung Hwaegwan
809 S Ardmore Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90005
Phone: 213.381.1520

Ham Hung on Urbanspoon

Jeonju Hanilkwan

Boodae Jjigae.  It literally means military jjigae.  If I could compare jjigae to anything, it would be a cross between a soup and a stew.  Yet, I feel that’s inaccurate.  Some people call it a casserole, but when I think of a casserole, I think of some baked pasta which jjigae really isn’t.  I don’t like having to give “jjigae” a Westernized name.  It is what it is.  Jjigae is jjigae.  Now that I got that out of the way…

From the stories I’ve heard and from what I can deduce, Boodae Jjigae is a byproduct of the US military occupation in South Korea.  As unappetizing as it may sound, it’s pretty much scrap food if you think about it.  After the Korean War, poverty was rampant and so was hunger.  Poor Koreans scrounged up whatever they could find, leftover, spoiled sausages, spam, vegetables, etc.  Koreans love spam.  I’m no exception.  So this is the humble beginning that was Boodae Jjigae.

What Hanilkwan is known for is apparently their Boodae Jjigae.  I guess that’s why I came too.  And by looking at Yelp, it turns out Hanilkwan is pretty well known.  I guess you really can’t go wrong in making this dish.  It’s simple and it’s good… unless you don’t like spam.  Then I guess that becomes a problem.  The Boodae Jjigae here isn’t the best I’ve had, but it’s still good.  I used to frequent Gonjiam on Beverly Blvd., and I remember them making it really well but it’s been a while.  Hanilkwan is good though.

I also ordered a side of Gamja-jun.  Potato pancake?  I liked the outer parts as it had a nice crisp to it.  This usually takes longer to make.  They got to shred up the potato and that takes time.  For what it is, I thought it was a bit overpriced though.

So when you’re in the mood for some Boodae Jjigae and you’re in Koreatown, you should stop by here.  And it’s in the “happening” part of Koreatown so that’s not that bad either.  And they changed they’re sign too.  There’s English on it.  I don’t ever remember there being English on the sign.  I guess English-only folk were having trouble looking for this place.

Jeonju Hanilkwan
3450 W 6th St #106

Los Angeles, CA 90020
Phone: 213.480.1799

Chunju Han-Il Kwan on Urbanspoon

Finding my niche

For most of my life, I pronounced “niche” like so.  But last semester, while taking the introductory class for my major, International Relations, my professor drilled into our heads that it should be pronounced like this.  Strangely, I find myself pronouncing it like he does.  And to explain why I took an intro course for my major so close to graduation is a long story.

So I want to find my neeeesh.  The reason why creating a food blog first crossed my mind was because I wanted to share with friends what I knew about Korean food in Koreatown. That was my intention.  I’m no expert, but I know it well enough for my needs.  What this has become is something different.  I’m all over the place, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But knowing what my intentions were and seeing that I only have two posts on Korean food in Koreatown makes me want to get back on track and create my niche.

I’ve seen many many Los Angeles-based food blogs, and I have yet to come across one with a substantial amount of posts about Koreatown.  That will be my niche.

And I’m still going to go all over the place.

Hot Dog on a Stick

Okay, what is up with the parking at these malls in the Westside???  It’s as if Daedalus designed them.  Finding parking seems like an adventure in and of itself and I’m not saying it’s a pleasant adventure.  The Beverly Center is somewhat confusing but manageable.  The Century City mall is damn confusing but having gone there enough times to satisfy my Panda Express cravings, I got used to it.  It’s when I start parking in areas where I don’t usually park that I start to have trouble finding the exit.  I think the worst of them all is the parking structure at Westside Pavilion.  I have the hardest time finding ways to go to higher levels.  So frustrating!

I always wonder why they couldn’t keep the structures simple; like those of the malls in Koreatown.  And then I realized these Korean malls don’t accommodate the large crowds of these American malls.  But then I thought about the parking structures at USC and how they accommodate way more than these malls do and they’re fairly simple too.  What is it with the parking??

After finally making my way up to the roof level at Westside Pavilion, I parked and walked over to Hot Dog on a Stick.  It’s a glorified, over-priced corn dog for which I have random cravings for.  Turkey sausage on a stick dipped in that perfect corn batter and fried so it’s not too dry and not too moist.  Freaking perfect.  Have yourself some great lemonade with that and things can’t get any better than that.  Okay, there probably are better things out there but I hope you get my point.  I enjoy this stuff.  $3 a corn dog is probably ridiculous when you can get it way cheaper at Wienerschnitzel but these are so much better.  Or you can head on over to Montebello Town Center for the same corn dogs at $2.25.

And I’m sorry, not corn dog, but hot dog on a stick.  Apparently, corn dogs imply that they’re frozen, so Hot Dog on a Stick doesn’t dare call them corn dogs.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget the lemonade.

Hot Dog on a Stick
Westside Pavilion (Food Court)
10800 W Pico Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90064

Hot Dog on a Stick on Urbanspoon

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