Ganda-Ganda's Guide to LA's Koreatown Eats

Hands down, my favorite area in Los Angeles is Koreatown, but is anyone really surprised? Our friends, Kara and Mike, took us to Koreatown to explore it's finest offerings, which of course involved food. The main thing I wanted to do was eat Korean bbq. It's very good in Chicago, but it's not like how it is in Korea. It's close, but not quite there. I've heard that in LA it's like eating in Korea, so I wanted to see if this was really true.

Every where I researched, the only place consistently recommended was Kang Ho Dong Baekjong. As usual, the critics were right and the bbq was just like Korea. We decided to order the Pork Combo ($39.99) that consisted of pork neck, seared pork belly, pork short rib, steamed egg, kimchi and kimchi stew. At that price, it was a steal and more than enough to feed four people. We obviously supplemented the meal with soju, beer and cider to really make it authentic! It was a delicious meal and the perfect start to our day in Koreatown. 

After stuffing our faces full of delicious barbecued meats, we decided to walk around Koreatown and see what other delights we could find. We passed by the Wiltern, which is a great vintage concert venue and theater. After picking up a few little kawaii things from Daiso, we came across Caffe Bene, one of my favorite Korean cafes. When Markus and I lived in Korea, we spent many nights at a Caffe Bene in Seomyeon brainstorming for Yehey. We have such fond memories of that place, so it was only natural for us to stop and have an iced Americano for old times sake.

After taking a lengthy coffee break, we realized that we were a bit hungry and headed over to Myung In Dumplings, a place that Anthony Bourdain recommended. We ordered the king steam dumpling pork and kimchi ($8), the spicy steam roll dumpling with pork and shrimp ($10), and fried dumpling with shrimp, pork and vegetables ($9). I could see why Bourdain recommended this place. The king steam dumplings were so fluffy and the kimchi wasn't overwhelming. The spicy steam roll dumpling was meaty, savory and just the right amount of spice. The fried dumplings were crunchy, juicy and everything you want in a fried dumpling.

Our last stop of the day was another popular spot that I kept seeing all over Instagram.  California Donuts is known for being fun and colorful, but most importantly the panda donut! When I saw them in the window, I definitely squealed in delight and each couple had to get one of their own. There was no way I was gonna share that cute panda with anyone but Markus! We sampled the Panda, Reeses, Chocolate Bacon, Fruity Pebbles and Samoa donuts ($18). They were all good, but my favorite was the Panda donut, but let's be real there was never any real competition.  

Even though Markus and I spent a whole day eating our fill in Koreatown, a few days later we returned with my cousin and visited another hot spot, Yu Chun. One of my favorite Korean dishes is naengmyeon, or cold noodles. I can seriously eat it every day in the summer, it's so delicious and refreshing. So, I made it a goal to have some before we left LA. We ordered the BBQ and Bibim Naengmyeon Combo ($17.50) and Mul Naengmyun ($8.50). I'm so glad we decided to eat at Yu Chun, because everything was perfect. Eating that food was like coming home and felt so familiar and comforting. I swear to you, I almost cried it was that close. If I lived in LA, I think I would be in Koreatown every night or at least every weekend. The food there is that good and I worth a visit if you're close by! 

Goodbye Korea Series: Busan English Library

I don't know why it's taken me 10 months to post these pictures, but at least I'm posting them. Towards the end of my time in Korea, I have to admit that I was frustrated. Homesickness really got to me and I had to work with a really inconsiderate person. Due to this, I left Korea happily. Now, ten months out, I really miss it, especially the library. Sometimes, we get so caught up in how we're feeling at the moment.  Working at the library was really one of the best jobs I've ever had and I truly miss every single person there.

For my goodbye dinner, they took me to Korean BBQ, since it's my favorite. Afterward, we went to noreabang and sang to our hearts content. It was a great evening spent with my favorite co-workers.  I even received a few gifts, including shoes for my future baby! In the two years I worked at the library, I made so many good memories, too many to name. I'm so thankful for having the opportunity to work at the Busan English Library and it will always be a cherished time in my life!

Goodbye Korea Series | Gloria and Seulhee Unnie

One of the things I miss the most about Korea are our friends. We met some amazing and wonderful people while we lived in Busan. I never thought that I would meet people that would become life long friends. Two people I miss the most are my unnies (Korean for older sister), Seulhee and Gloria. I met them through Markus, when they all worked on the Magic English Bus together. I really think they were the best thing to come out of that experience. When I met them, we instantly clicked and I knew I found my true unnies.

We would meet once a month, usually on Wednesdays, for dinner and drinks. I was always excited, because we would stay out really late eating delicious food, drinking too much soju and talking about life. They were more than just friends, they became like family. They knew everything about us and we knew all about them. We never ran out of things to talk about and they always had great advice. Sometimes, I wish that we could go back to our Wednesday night dinners. I truly cherished the time that we had with them and I'm anxiously waiting for the day that we can meet again!

Oh Korea Quote #3

Despite the fact that I don't live in Korea anymore, I still have heaps of material for my "Oh Korea" series. I took a little break, but now they're back!

I really miss hearing all the random things that Korean people said. It was definitely a highlight of my life in Busan. For the third installment of "Oh Korea", I chose a really strange one. I've had loads of weird conversations, but this one was really out there. I was talking with a male coworker and I we were talking about health and sickness. Basically the conversation went like this:

Me: I get sick really easily.
Him: Oh really? You didn't drink mother's milk?
Me: ..... I'm pretty sure I did.
Him: Until when?
Me: I don't know, until I was 1?
Him: I drank mother's milk till I was 13. Plus I really like... * he put his hands in front of his chest.*
Me: Oh.....

At first I thought he was joking, but after a few more minutes of conversation I realized he wasn't. He was dead serious. I don't even think it's possible for someone to drink breast milk until that age, but I could be dead wrong. I asked a few of my Korean friends if this could happen. They said that because he grew up in the countryside, anything was possible. Apparently things are really different in the country. Either way, I'll always remember when a grown man told me he drank mother's milk until he was a teenager. Oh Korea, how much I miss you. 

Eats with Jeff #11: Grand Finale

It's been a long time coming, but I finally edited the photos from our final "Eats with Jeff". I can't believe that this was six months ago and that we've been in America for six months. Anyway, on this last eats we finally met Jeff's beautiful girlfriend Allison. I was bummed that we didn't get to hang out sooner. It would've been nice to have her along for all our eating adventures. She's really sweet and a perfect match for Jeff.

For our final meal, we decided to go to a crab restaurant. In the two years that we lived in Korea, we never ate crab and it's one of my favorite foods. We spied this fancy crab restaurant in Seomyeon during one of our other outings. Jeff researched the place a bit to make sure it was good and fitting for our final eats. I have to admit that I don't remember much about the food, but I do remember that I liked it. I mean we ate everything on the table, so it had to be good right?! Unfortunately, Jeff told me recently that the restaurant closed. It's the sad fact that in Korea the restaurant business is a competitive business. Restaurants are always opening and closing regardless if they're good or not.

After dinner, we went to our favorite coffee shop, Tokyoloose. It was great seeing Jeff and Allison interact. She's really funny and full of aegyo or cuteness, which I love. In the short time that we were spent together, I could tell she was bringing the best out in Jeff.

I really miss these outings with Jeff. It's been a bit hard being back home. We're starting over in a new city and it's easy to reminisce about the good times in Korea. I wish that we could've spent more time together. Jeff is a great friend and I'm thankful for the short time we had together. I'm looking forward to the next time we meet and we can have another "Eats with Jeff"!