January 23, 2005

Toebang in Chapman Plaza

We ended up at Chapman plaza on 6th and Alexandria, which is a quaint shopping plaza with interesting spanish architecture, a rarity in this part of town. It's a happening place for pre and after clubbing on weekends but on this relatively early afternoon, it was quiet and cozy with some older clientele. We went into the restaurant Toebang which has an outdoor terrace to accommodate the large smoking clientele in this part of town. The afternoon sun filtering through the blinds and the rustic feel of the log-like terrace fixtures created a warm and bright ambience and the owner was busy filling promotional baloons from a soju (Korean spirit similar to vodka) company with helium, in preparation for the evening crowd, no doubt. The menu is geared toward those having alcohol, that is, lots of meat dishes and comfort foods, and it seemed to fit the craving of the late afternoon. M ordered bibimbap (mixed rice) and I ordered jaiyukbokum (fried pork with kimchee). The water arrived in an old fashioned bronze teapot - keeping with the whole rustic feel. The bibimbap was a little bland but my fried pork was yummy. It's a comfort food that's a good accompaniment to alcohol as well, although I never had this dish when I used to go clubbing around there, which was a long time ago. Anyway, it's a really eay dish to prepare if you want some spicy pork.

To make jai-yuk-bok-um, basically you just need some pork (bacon will do) and kimchee. In a large saute pan, start frying some pork over medium heat. You can add onions and carrots, if you want. Don't cook the meat completely yet. As the meat begins to cook, add kimchee to the pan. Keep cooking over low heat for few minutes. You can add a spoonful of sesame oil for extra flavor. Cook long enough so the kimchee is cooked. Don't overcook as it can get dry. Eat with rice. Very simple and yummy!

Toebang, 3465 W. 6th St., #110, LA 90020. 213.387.4905

(Edit: On reflection, I think the dish tastes a lot better if the meat is marinated. For a spicy marinade, combine gochujang (hot pepper paste), minced garlic, scallions, ground onions, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, touch of salt and pepper.)

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