Once in a while I’ll get a major craving for Korean food and really work up the energy to drive all the way to the south side in order to get it. When I heard that Won Jung Gak opened up a place in Chinatown, I was ecstatic! Finally, something within a 15 minute drive. Sharon missed out on my birthday dinner a week ago and promised me a separate dinner – a perfect opportunity to go try it out!
Both of us had been to their original location on 96 St and 62 Ave (middle of nowhere basically) and enjoyed the food. Somebody told me that it was a bit of a mix of Korean and Chinese cooking though, which is fine with me as long as I can get my Korean BBQ and bi bim bap. With the first snowfall that morning, Sunday dinner was slower. The old Basil Leaf sign was still up and lit and a small sign indicated the Won Jung Gak takeover. I had never been to Basil Leaf before but Sharon noticed the interior had not changed at all since the new business moved in. The menu comes in both Korean and English description, as well as photos of their most popular items.
We decided to go with something soup-y as one of our dishes. We chose the “Hae Mul Soon Du Bu Jji Gae”, a spicy soup with soft tofu, seafood, and egg. It was topped with enoki mushrooms, cucumbers, and green onions. The portion is quite small but comes with a small bowl of white rice. At first I didn’t think it was spicy but as you sip the broth and pour it over your rice, the heat builds up! It was nice and warm though and definitely an alternative to bun bo hue, the spicy beef noodle soup from Vietnam.
I’m a huge fan of bi bim bap, Korean for “mixed rice.” Traditionally placed in a hot stone bowl, you mix it up yourself and if left long enough, the rice on the edges get crispy and add a nice texture to the dish. We decided to go with something a bit different, the “Dol Sot Je Yuk Deop Bab” which had steamed rice, stir-fried pork, and vegetables, all marinated in a spicy sauce. The regular bi bim bap, also available on the menu, usually comes with beef and a fried egg. The dish was delicious but I really missed the fried egg! I’m starting to think I have some sort of egg addiction (a must in any ramen I already eat). If you’re not a pork or beef fan, it can also be ordered with fried squid, or tofu and shrimp.
Can’t go wrong with a Korean BBQ dish. We ordered the “L.A. Galbi”. “Galbi” is Korean for ribs, traditionally beef short rib marinated in a Korean soy sauce. The Americanized Los Angeles version of the dish differs from the original only in how it is cut: with the ribs cut across the bone and thinly sliced. It was well marinated and perfectly sweetened. I find Korean BBQ has more of a sweeter note in their marinades versus other Asian kinds.
With three dishes between the two of us, and smaller little dishes of kimchi, beansprouts, potato salad, and a Korean slaw, Sharon and I got full pretty easily. If you’re ever in the Chinatown area and want Korean, this is it! From my last visit at the south side location, the “Kan Poon Gi”, spicy garlic
pork chicken was delicious! I’ll be sure to get it again next time I go!
10023 – 107 Ave