Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hwal Uh Kwang Jang (Korean Seafood) - Los Angeles

Sam spent the evening with Andrew in Los Angeles and Judy and I met them for lunch at Hwal Uh Kwang Jang at 730 S. Western Avenue in Los Angeles (Koreatown) (213-386-6688). It was fun to be with part of the fam damily. I must admit to feeling a little dubious as we walked in. It is part of a strip mall, is inauspicious looking and smelled like fish inside. But what unfolded was very good, very unusual (for our experience) and at an amazing price.
Hwal Uh Kwang Jang
Note the huge bowls with seafood salads.
I was surprised to get banchan, the Korean appetizers we've gotten at Korean barbecue places. First, we got some small fried (but cold) fish. They were easy to debone, moist, unusual and good, one of my favorite parts of the meal. Almost like little mini-trout. One dish had cucumber and some other semi-crunchy vegetable that was mostly cucumbery in taste. Another dish had a spicy, crunchy vegetable. Both were nice. It also included tofu with scallions, peppers, etc., mild, but with a bit of heat. We got a cabbage salad with vinegar, and finally, we also got miso soup. I expected none of the above when ordering and felt like we got a separate free meal as what we got, in addition to this, was worth what we paid for it. 
fried fish
I can't resist putting two pictures - too cool.
Cucumbery banchan
Spicy, crunchy vegetable
Tofu with scallions and chilies
cabbage salad
miso soup
Andrew highly recommended the Hae Dup Bap salad, which is sashimi mixed in with seaweed, cabbage and other items.  It came in a ginormous bowl and was as good of a value for the money as I've had at a restaurant in a long time. They added in rice and a sweet, spicy, red sauce.
Hae Dup Bap
Just to get some variety at the table, I ordered a squid version of the salad. It was very unusual, but not as good. It too came with lettuce, seaweed, some daikon radish, smelt eggs and some crunchy red vegetable and a huge amount of crushed ice which put me off a little. It also came with a side dish of dark brown noodles which did not look great to me, but I put them in anyway and regretted it. When I pushed away the ice I found a layer of white, shredded squid underneath. I mixed it altogether, added some of the sweet, red pepper sauce and then spent a lot of time separating the brown noodles out that I'd just spent a lot of time mixing in. It was good, but no where as good as the Hae Dup Bap. 
base squid salad - note the crushed ice in the middle
ice pushed away to reveal the underlying squid
noodles that remind me of brains or worms
all mixed togeher
The rainbow roll was a pretty good size, not as good as I've had other places, but very worthwhile. The unagi roll had end-pieces with huge pieces of eel attached to them. They were wonderful.
rainbow roll
unagi roll
We came away stuffed and impressed at the quality and price of the meal. Very fun to have Sam and Andrew together and spend some time in the cultural melting pot of LA. 
Some of my favorite people in the world in front of Andrew's garage door.

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