I was looking for a pork dish that I had tried at another Korean restaurant that had gone out of business, so I searched the handy internet trying to locate a place that might serve that particular dish. After much efforts, it was to no avail. I did, however, found another dish that sounded somewhat remotely similar, so I decided to give that a try.
Located inside a small strip mall at the corner of Vermont and 7th, Kobawoo was easy to find. There is valet parking for about $1.50 or so, though not too expensive, but if one gets there early enough before the restaurant opens for lunch, sometimes the valet people are not there yet.
The specialty here is Bossam – steamed pork belly slices that are served with fermented shrimp paste, pickled jalapeños peppers, marinated radishes, and can be wrapped either with the slightly pinkish pickled radish or napa cabbage leaves. The meat, fatty, rich and moist, is cooked to a perfect state of tenderness. Though the pork is not especially flavorful by itself, when wrapped and devoured with all the pungent accompaniments, it transforms into a symphony of spicy, salty, vinegary, and crunchy goodness, and becomes surprisingly and pleasurably addicting.
As good as the bossam is, my favorite here is the Eun dae gu jorim, a braised black cod with daikon. There are about four fillets of fish with big rounds of white radishes. The price for this dish is probably the lowest compared to others in town. The fish has a distinct delicate flavor, and is exceptionally tender and flaky. The daikon can be a tad salty after having soaked up the sauce.
The Kalbi (marinated short ribs) and Bulgogi (marinated beef) are grilled in the kitchen and brought out to the table. For this restaurant, I actually prefer the Kalbi over the bulgogi of which I found to be uncommonly sweet.
Jangban Guksu is a huge platter of buckwheat noodles with assorted shredded vegetables such as cucumber, lettuce, carrots, onions, red bell peppers. After all the ingredients were mixed together with the reddish sauce, the result is a crisp, refreshing mix of zestiness and chewiness that I would happily slurped down with a cup of tea.
Banchan (small side sides) here is usually limited to about four assortments, but always looked and tasted fresh. There would be a little button at the table to push for service when needed, and the waiters would always respond right away. I really appreciate the attention to details at this restaurant, there would always be a fresh and different pot of miniature orchid on each table every time I go. The beautifully crafted heavy dark wooden tables and benches evoke in me almost a sense of regalness, a sense of tradition, and quality.
Kobawoo House: 698 S. Vermont Ave. Ste 109, Los Angeles, CA 90005 Phone: 213-389-7300