Bruce's Blog

a handful of dimes and a jukebox

Soowon Galbi1For my Thursday Lunch today, I decided to let fate (and my nose) direct me through Koreatown.  I was driving by Vermont and James M Wood Blvd, and a beautiful Korean BBQ smell pulled me in as if it was The Sirens and I was Odysseus.  Unfortunately for me, The Sirens don’t like eaters who fly solo.  They are an AYCE (All You Can Eat) place that has a minimum number of orders of 2.  So rather than pay for two meals, I decided to put that place on hold until I find some company for one of my lunches.  Instead, I walked a block over to Soowon Galbi.  I went to Soowon Galbi some months ago and was very pleased with it.  I find that often I can’t help myself but get the bulgogi, but that’s what I had last time, so I was bound and determined to resist.  The waitress saw my hesitation when looking at the menu and decided to tell me what to get.  She said I should either get the bulgogi or the bibimbop.  I told her that I was thinking about the Go Deung Oh Jorim (Mackeral and kimchi braised in a spicy sauce), also known as a jjigae.  Besides sounding interesting, it’s only $7.99 — well in the range of My Thursday Lunch requirements.  She said, “No, hot” and reiterated the two choices.  I asked again about the Mackeral and she said, “No, hot.  Spicy. ”  I said, “Yes, I understand.”  She looked at me doubtfully and said, “You like spicy?” and I said, “Oh yes”, and she said, “Ok” and quickly left, as if I had just said, “Yes, I’ll have lethal injection, please!”.  I have to admit, there was a small voice inside my head saying, “Bruce, Bruce.  What are you thinking?”, but it was done.  I had ordered.

Soowon Galbi2The panchan was a lovely surprise.  I remember their panchan being good, but it was lovely to see a new variety with two things that I’d never seen before:  one was a pumpkin dish that looked kind of like egg salad, but was sweet and the other was little Korean pancake-like things — wonderful!  I should mention that the waitress quickly replaced any panchan dish with a new one as she saw me finish it.  Most places will do this, but not quite so voluntarily or efficiently.

This is a particularly clean place.  Some of the Korean BBQ places in K-Town just scream of every single piece of pork that’s been there.  Soowon Galbi has a Japanese-like cleanliness to it.  It’s also a very calming atmosphere despite the big screen TV always tuned to the sports channel.  I felt rather transported to another place and time as I sat there, casually nibbling on my panchan, waiting for the inevitable Death By Korean Spices.  Perhaps I was already seeing  the white light, feeling the warm glow of acceptance of my inevitable fate.
Soowon Galbi3But, dear reader, since you have no doubt noted that I’m here to write about it, I must have somehow survived The Red Death.  In fact, it wasn’t really that hot. I didn’t break a sweat.  Perhaps I’ve raised my heat threshold with my Thursday lunches in Koreatown, I don’t know.  But at any rate, I was able to fully enjoy the dish without experiencing any unpleasant amount of heat.  It was spectacular, in fact.  The mackerel was, I guess you would say, in small steaks, pieces about 2 inches all around with the skin still on and the bone in the middle.  The mackerel wasn’t hot at all, but it had absorbed the rich tastes of the stew.  The kimchi and various veggies in the stew absorbed most of the spices, but I loved ’em.  The waitress was actually very nicely attentive.  She seemed quite surprised, but honestly pleased by how much I enjoyed it.  She very quietly kept an eye on me;  she didn’t interfere with any part of my experience, but when she saw I was low on water or anything, she was there before I even need to look for her.

Certainly I’d recommend Soowon Galbi.  In fact, and I forgot to mention this  earlier, but when the initial place that I wanted to eat at didn’t work out, the waitress there recommended Soowon Galbi.  When the competition knows you, well, you know that can’t be bad.

Soowon Galbi

856 S Vermont Ave
Ste C
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 365-9292

One Response so far.

  1. Jasmin says:

    Hmmm, I’ve never had mackerel like that, but I like mackerel, so I’d try it. Except I think I’m more of a wuss about the hot sauce. But well done for stepping outside the bulgogi-or-bibimbap standards. Obviously worth it!

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