February 8, 2005

Chungkiwa Restaurant, Koreatown

You don't "explore" Olympic Blvd. or the Koreatown in general. Koreatown is not Paris, a city francophilic Americans "explore." Even at its hippest, trendiest and most exclusive spots around town, you don't "explore" Koreatown. Koreatown is a working, functional town. Its gritty functionality is occasionally cut by the hyper luxe shops scattered throughout, but Koreatown is a commercial town at its core. It's there so that people, mostly Korean Americans, can find things they can't find anywhere else or deal with people who speak Korean. To me, you don't go to Koreatown to "explore" or pass time. You go and do your business, which in the end somehow becomes part of your life. That's the extent to which Koreatown is part of my life. Not like the West Hollywood scene is part of an aspiring actor's life.

Chungkiwa is one of the older eating establishments in Koreatown. The name means blue roof tiles that decorate the building but it also refers to the ancient Korean art of tile making and ceramic. Its' menu is quite encompassing although the specialty of the house is bbq's using Black Angus beef. More on that later. It's one of those places where you can pretty much get any Korean dish you want as opposed to a place that specializes in one, not two or three, dish. One of the most popular dish is the combo, kalbi & naengmyun, the short rib bbq and noodles. It is especially popular during warm weather because the most popular naengmyun is the noodles in icy cold broth. Sometimes you'll see icy chunks of broth floating in the soup. The meals come with a very generous selection of banchan or side dishes which could very well be a meal in itself. They consist of kimchee, assorted marinated vegetables, soup, etc.

M and his father each had the kalbi & naengmyun combo and I ordered the codfish stew to share. The cod is marinated with veggies, such as potatoes and squash, and simmered over a long time so that the spices impregnate the ingredients. It's one way to flavor the sometimes bland cod. The food was delicious and the service was better than I remembered, perhaps because my father-in-law kept saying how the good the food was to the waitress. Flattery always works. Our bill came out to under $50. Not bad for all the food we had.

Chungkiwa, 3545 W. Olympic Blvd., LA, 90019 323.737.0809

No comments: