Monday, May 28, 2012

Jeon Ju

2716 Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA

First off, many thanks to J. Gold for one of his last articles at LAWeekly, "60 Korean Dishes Every Angeleno Should Know".   I've referred to this article several times before heading over to K-Town. It led me to Jeon Ju for bibimbap, now I'm a repeat customer. I lived at the Dubarry in Koreatown for years, and never got to know the culinary landscape of the neighborhood the way I am getting to know it now. It helps that my husband loves Korean food and is always game to try a new hole in the wall or AYCE BBQ spot.  

K-Town is intense. Its heavy population density houses Korean families and the young partying set as well as plenty of Latinos and young hipsters who can't quite afford the rents in Los Feliz and Silverlake. Koreatown has the largest concentration of 24-hour businesses in all of California. That coupled with the number of busy drinking establishments makes it the perfect spot for a walkabout night on the town. We end up here at least once a month bouncing from place to place, meeting people, snacking and occasionally getting sucked into a karaoke room with someone we just met. Good times, folks.

Jeon Ju is a very casual little spot, open from lunch through to dinner, no booze. I've also ordered food to-go, pleased with the variety of banchan they pack in individual little containers in your plastic bag of deliciousness. I do kind of wonder how restaurants will deal with the new plastic bag ban in LA county. Will restaurants be subject to the ban? Wet take away food and leakages make paper bags seem nonsensical. I bird-walk. The banchan here is yummy. My favorites are the gelatinous white cubes with sesame sauce and the purple rice cakes two dishes over. Of course, I love kimchee in all its forms.

Bibimbap is a rice dish with a variety of vegetables such as spinach, zucchini, sprouts, mushrooms, cucumbers, carrots and I assume whatever might be on hand in the fridge. Possible proteins include an egg, beef, various fish, squid, pork, etc. Bibimbap has been a traditional Korean dish for a couple hundred years. A recipe for bibimbap is found in Siuijeonseo, an anonymous Korean cookbook from the late 19th century, considered the resource for researching traditional Korean foods.

This trip, D and I both ordered the Dor Sot bibimbap with beef...dolsot bibimbap comes sizzling in a stone bowl and continues to cook the entire time you are eating. Toward the bottom of the bowl, the rice is a solid crunchy mass with a satisfying crispiness. I like to add plenty of the umami-spicy hot sauce gochujang, then stir the veggies, seaweed, egg and beef around til it's completely mixed together and everything gets a chance to sizzle a little. The second best thing to eating from that sizzling stone pot is eating the leftovers later that same afternoon at home on the couch.

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