Korean barbecue has been a mainstay in Los Angeles for years, yet many residents in our city have never been to a Korean restaurant, including my octogenarian father. I recently enlightened my dad by treating him to an authentic lunch at Dong IL Jang in Koreatown.
Since 1979, the owner Roy Kim and his mother and father have been introducing their dishes to Angelenos and providing regulars fresh food in a friendly and respectful atmosphere.
My father’s first impression was seeing a security guard in the parking lot greeting guests, directing them to parking spots and keeping an eye on their cars.
Walking into the restaurant, he admired the koi fish in a pond by the front door and thought the servers wearing their chocolate brown uniforms with a starched white collars and white aprons were adorable.
Sitting in a booth, he noticed the covered gas burner insert in the table and exhaust fan hood above. Our server, Ms. Song welcomed us with a friendly smile, and gave us a few recommendations of dishes that Americans enjoy. She thought we would like the Dohl Sot Bibimbap bowl and a glassy potato noodle dish called Chap Chae.
Before our entrees arrived, another server brought us the traditional Korean banchan – side dishes served family style. With chopsticks in hand, we nibbled on housemade kimchi (fermented cabbage similar to a spicy sauerkraut, but not so shredded), seasoned bean sprouts, sautéed spinach, Korean pancakes, and radish in a red sauce. The little bowls offered a variety of rich with scented flavors.
My father loved the Bibimbap served with white rice in a hot stone pot with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables), beef, gochujang (chili pepper paste), and soy sauce. An egg yolk is added on top to enhance the flavor and provide protein. After it was brought to the table, Ms. Song asked if she could stir the pot to mix all the wonderful ingredients and flavors together.
The slightly sweet Chap Chae noodles arrived with thin strips of stir fried vegetables and meat.
I didn’t think my father was ready for the exotic dishes on the menu, such as thinly sliced beef tongue, beef intestine, tripe and hot spicy squid. I almost ordered the seafood pancake made with egg, green onions, calamari and jalapeños giving it a slight kick, however the portions of our two entrees were large. We asked for a to-go container for my father to take home and enjoy later in the day.
At the end of our meal, Ms. Song brought us two glasses of rice punch. We both thought it was refreshing and not too sweet.
As we walked out to the front door, Roy stopped us and asked if we had a nice lunch? My father replied, “I really like Korean food. It’s delicious.”
The restaurant is open for lunch at 11 a.m. with specials ranging from $10.95 to $15.95. Dinner is served until 10 a.m. $$ 3455 W. 8th St. (213)383-5757.
This article was featured in the 2015 Beverly Press Summer Dining and Entertainment Guide.