Hamkyungdo Abaii Soondae (Ham Kyung Do Restaurant)

Alright alright, when the Boodae Jjigae crew strikes, it’s gon’ be big.  This time it wasn’t Boodae Jjigae.  We went out for some Kimchi Jjigae; and like last time, we went to a place for Korean middle-aged men.  That’s usually where good Korean food will be served.  To add on top of that, Kimchi Jjigae wasn’t even on the menu.  And more?  You need to order it at least an hour ahead of time.  It’s overshadowed by Park’s BBQ as it is in the same strip mall.

H, CK, Dae, and goshjosh from UCLA, Juboy from Valencia, and myself were the culprits of the day.  The Kimchi Jjigae experience started off with me being in the hot seat.  While we were waiting for everyone to show up, we were waiting outside and apparently we were too loud.  An old lady from the restaurant comes out and tells us that we’re loud and we should go to the PC Game Room upstairs.  I tell her that we’re going to eat at the restaurant.  Then she starts asking all these questions, “what could you possibly eat here? how do you know we have kimchi jjigae? etc. etc.”  It seemed more like an interrogation, but my Korean held up surprisingly without a flaw and I managed to do it while keeping a smile on my face.

Maybe the old lady felt bad along with the other old ladies in there because what came next was a great time and great hospitality.  It was the six of us and I phoned in three hours earlier to order 3 servings of Kimchi Jjigae.  We ordered Soondae and also an order of Bossam.  Soondae is Korean blood sausage and that wasn’t real popular within our group.  CK and I like soondae, but I don’t think the others shared the same opinion.  Maybe it has something to do with soondae being made out of blood, but whatever.  CK also cleaned out the tongue, liver, and some other thing that was there.  I think he really likes this stuff.

I thought maybe the ladies would like the Bossam.  I don’t think that worked out either.  With Bossam, you get usually boiled pork belly or raw oysters as the meat, some fermented radish that’s marinated to be somewhat spicy, and wrap it in a huge white cabbage leaf.  I don’t too crazy over it but if it’s within reach, I wouldn’t mind wrapping myself a few.

So it seemed like the soondae and bossam wasn’t cutting it.  Then came the timely appearance of what we came for, the Kimchi Jjigae.  That Kimchi Jjigae that’s not on the menu.  That Kimchi Jjigae that you have to order ahead of time.  That Kimchi Jjigae where you need to bring your Korean A game, or at least bring someone who can speak Korean.  That Kimchi Jjigae that the old ladies put their time in to make.  Aside from the Kimchi Jjigae your mother makes, this jjigae goes somewhere up there.  They give you so much kimchi.  The pork belly that’s in there is cooked ’til it’s so tender.  The soup part of the jjigae was so hearty.  I mean, with jjigaes in most places, it feels a bit watery, but here, the jjigae was just… this is how jjigaes ought to be.

One thing is for certain, we had an atypical experience here.  I don’t think people would be greeted with “there’s a PC game room upstairs.”  The friendly service is probably typical though, not that sometimes annoying friendly service you find at the fanciest of restaurants but more of that genuine kind coming from old Korean ladies.  Maybe it was that awkward encounter in the beginning but the service turned into something you would expect from a family friend.  We got free Gyeran-mari (Korean omelette), not one but two.  And though our final bill came out to $80, the old lady told us to pay $50 because we’re students and students don’t have any money.  Where else would you be able to find such sincerity like that?

How to order: You MUST order ahead of time if you want Kimchi Jjigae.  I think it was an hour ahead of time but to be safe, do it a couple hours ahead of time.  If you can’t speak Korean, find a friend that can when placing the order.  I doubt any English is spoken here.  It’s going to cost you $11-12 per serving of Kimchi Jjigae.

Hamkyungdo Abaii Soondae (Ham Kyung Do Restaurant)
955 S Vermont Ave, Ste A
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Phone: 213.388.2013

One Response to Hamkyungdo Abaii Soondae (Ham Kyung Do Restaurant)

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