This week i was in LA briefly and ate at Yuchun, spoon by h, and kobawoo for my Korean fix. This was my first time eating at yuchun’s other location on Vermont. Did this location used to be a bbq spot? There are hood vents over the tables and i don’t know why. We did order some galbi but they were cooked in the kitchen. Anyway we were there for naengmyun, not galbi. I usually make a point of eating at Yuchun when i’m in LA. The last two times i’ve been through have been during cold/wet spells and i’ve skipped out on cold noodles. Everything was exactly as i remembered and hoped for, and i didn’t notice any discernible difference between the quality of the food at this location. Except that maybe the hard boiled egg was better. I’ve seen green sulfur rings in the yolks at Yuchun before. This one was not over cooked. Except i don’t like hard boiled egg yolks so i didn’t eat it anyway but yay to minor improvements! I had the bibim naenmyun and my friend had the mul naengmyun. I always say “next time I’ll get the mul naengmyun,” but i never do. I loved everything about my bibim naengmyun except the aforementioned egg yolk. I also love their huge kimchi mandu. My friend wondered if there was tofu in the filling and i said most likely, as tofu is common in Korean dumplings, but when i inspected i wasn’t sure if there was any meat in it, either. There may have been some ground pork or beef but the strong flavor of the coarsely chopped kimchi and the delicate textured but light tofu made it hard to tell. Plus i didn’t ask but it hardly matters to me. These are some of my favorite dumplings and i have yet to find any like them in either SF or Oakland. Well there are many things i can’t find in SF or Oakland, but that way of thinking lies sadness…
Oh that galbi we ordered was too sweet.
My friend really wanted to try the cold noodles at spoon by h. She had gone once before and had the kimchi fried rice, but felt that the noodles were calling to her. When we arrived the next day, we were told that the special of the day was just the famous mandu soup, plus the small menu of savory items on the laminated menu cards. The man said that there were no more cold noodles, but he said that spoon by h was no longer serving those, or the pastas, anymore. I can’t remember exactly how he said it but basically made it sound like all the fun special dishes that they have become known for, have…been cancelled? He said it was his sister’s decision. So does that mean that spoon by h as everyone has known it is over? Did we just miss it? Disappointed, my friend got their chicken udon and i ordered the famous dumpling soup. Maybe it’s the flavor of plans thwarted, the bitter taste of disappointment, but i don’t really see what all the fuss is about regarding that soup. It was really good. It was unorthodox. It had big bones in it with tender rib meat falling off. It was surprisingly spicy, though the milky color of the broth gave no indication of heat. The dumplings were large. And they were pretty good. But…shrug.
Kobawoo. So the night before when we went to Yuchun, my friend pointed out kobawoo next door. She had been there recently with one of our friends who couldn’t meet us that night, so the following night the three of us went to kobawoo. They had vetted it for kimchi chigae and for bindaetteok. I wanted to try the famous bossam, though. By the way the bindaetteok IS really good. These are tricky and are often bad. Too grainy, or too bouncy/chewy from too much or too little in the way of ratio between soaked mung beans and sweet rice. These are really good. Kimchi chigae is pretty good too. Oddly dark, the color, but…anyway that bossam was lovely. I love how thinly they slice the pork, and how clean it tastes. You know pork belly can just be a bit…MUCH, you know. Not just in texture from all that fat but in flavor. But this was lovely, and whatever they use to simmer the meat in really seems to draw out the unpleasantness of the pork without masking its flavor. I know this place has been doing this for a long, long time. The pliant cabbage and radish slices, the piquant radish slaw and pickles and such, i just loved it. I only ordered the medium since i knew i was the only one that was really interested in it. I’m not sure if they have it as an option or not, but the addition of some oysters would have made this perfect for me. I can almost feel some of you getting ready to agree or disagree with me on this place, and i am overwhelmed by jealousy that you have so many options and choices. So please feel free to tell me where i should go next for bossam when i have the opportunity to come back to LA.