Korean BBQ has gone upscale, and of course New York is the city to add a dazzling touch to a simple concept.
Kristalbelli, the highly buzzed about restaurant opened by J.Y. Park, the South Korean entertainer extraordinaire and producer of K-pop acts such as the Wonder Girls and 2PM, opened its doors to the anticipation of many.
Kristalbelli’s unique belly-shaped crystal grill (also where the restaurant gets its nom de guerre)
Inside the two story building is a restaurant and bar, but what’s really special about Kristalbelli are the belly-shaped crystal grills placed at each group table. Infrared heating fires up the grills, using traditional Korean cooking techniques that rely on infrared and crystal to efficiently cook meat. Kristalbelli is now be the first restaurant in the states to use infrared technology.
At the helm of operations is Korean American executive chef David Shim. He composed menus for a lounge, dinner, dessert, and wine. Each menu item represents his take on traditional Korean dishes.
Lounge Menu Samples
Bokbunja steak is a cut served with black raspberry reduction.
Kochi is pork belly served with shrimp and asparagus skewers.
Twigim is fried sweet potato and burdock.
Dinner Menu Samples
Gujeolpan is a “traditional emperor’s cuisine” of thinly sliced veggies and beef served with a crepe.
Haemul pajeon is a mixed seafood pancake.
Doenjang jjigae is a soybean paste stew with veggies and tofu.
Korean Food USA is a new series that showcases Korean and Korean-inspired eateries all around the nation.
CHAM Korean Bistro in Pasadena, CA puts a modern American twist on popular Korean dishes. “CHAM” directly translates into “meal for the workers,” but at this bistro, “CHAM” embodies its philosophy of providing “well-prepared meals for a healthy mind and body.” As a result, CHAM doesn’t use any MSG or high fructose corn syrup.
CHAM’s menu is broken down into general categories of dishes (i.e. salad, noodles, bibimbap, etc) from which you can choose one that suit your tastes. Deliciously distinctive dishes on CHAM’s menu include their BBQ + garden platters and tofu pockets.
CHAM’s BBQ + garden platters are loose interpretations of the traditional Korean ssam. Here, you can have your choice of seven BBQ options (we recommend the seared ahi and kalbi bbq). The garden platters come with buckwheat noodles and an array of vegetables, which include butter lettuce, radish pickles, and sesame leaves.
Tofu pockets are stuffed with sweet rice and topped with your choice of pickled seaweed, spicy tuna (highly recommended!), blue crab, and arugula & radish. At only $1.50 each, CHAM’s tofu pockets are highly addictive, and it’s hard to just stop at one.
CHAM’s menu is also vegetarian-conscious and lists vegetarian options for many of its dishes. Some vegetarian favorites are the watermelon arugula salad, crispy spicy rice cakes, and California bibimbap with seared tofu.
With clean presentations and inventive dishes, CHAM is a great option for those looking to experience Korean food in a casual and contemporary setting.
Tip: Mention that you have AAA membership and get 10% off your bill!
Dia Frampton became a household name during her stint on the first season of NBC’s The Voice. Though she came in as runner-up, she has since moved onto bigger projects for her music career. Her debut solo album titled Red backs her folksy voice with indie pop tracks, but old-school fans will be happy to hear that her Meg & Dia bandmates are very much still in the picture.
As her tour with former Voice coach Blake Shelton comes to an end this month, we caught up with Dia to hear what she has to say about her Korean roots and recent success as as a solo artist.
Tell us three things that fans, both new and old, should know about you?
Hmmm. When I think of three things about me off the top of my head: I love to read. Whenever one of my teachers in high school would give us a book to read for the month, I would finish it in about three days. I always have a bunch of books with me when I’m touring as well. Some of my favorite authors are Ayn Rand and Charles Dickens. Secondly, I come from a large family of girls. I have five sisters. My older sister, Meg, plays guitar and piano for me in the band and also does backing vocals. And last but not least, I love dogs! I’m a big dog person and would love to get one when touring slows down a little bit!
How did you first get interested in music? How would you describe your musical style?
I first started singing around the age of 9. My dad brought home a Leann Rimes CD. She was only 14 years old at the time, and I remember thinking it was so cool that a little girl almost my age had a record contract! My musical style right now is very focused on lyrics. I like to write my own lyrics and absolutely love writing songs. I would describe myself as a singer/songwriter.
We read on your blog that you enjoy writing short stories. How is writing stories different from writing songs? And do you plan on publishing any of your stories in the near future?
I love to write. I’ve written a few novels too, ranging from around 200 to 300 pages. I feel like it’s really difficult to glue a novel together well while with a song it’s only three to four minutes long! I feel like I ramble a lot, and my mind tends to wander when I’m writing stories. My biggest challenge is to keep me focused on the task at hand. I would love to get a book published in the future.
How has the transition been from sharing the spotlight with your sister, Meg, when you were performing as Meg & Dia, to being in the spotlight as solo artist Dia Frampton?
It’s been a bit stressful having all of the attention suddenly focused on me. Now I’m doing all the press, and photo shoots, and video shoots, which is a lot to handle sometimes. Also, all the criticism, good and bad, falls directly on my name. However, at the same time, Meg is still playing in the band with me and even helped me write for my album Red. She even co-produced a couple of the songs. She still remains very present in my life and I am very grateful for that.
In your music video for “The Broken Ones,” we get to see Meg and your Meg & Dia bandmates, Jonathan, Nicholas, and Carlo, as well as some of your family members. What was it like on set of your music video? And what has it been like for the band since signing with Universal Records?
I thought it would be a cool thing for my little sisters to get a “behind-the-scenes” look at what I do. I have made music videos before and would of course send them to my family, but all they would see was the 3 minute video. I took a lot of pleasure waking up my little sisters (ages 13, 15, and 15 – twins!) at 3:30 a.m. to head over to the set! Ha! That’s the evil older sister in me coming out. But I kind of wanted to show them that it’s not just all sparkles and fun all the time. Being a musician is hard work. We got to set around 4:30 in the “middle-of-nowhere” California and were in hair and make up chairs by 5 a.m. Then, we shot till about 1 or 2 in the morning, so it was a long day. I think they had a lot of fun though, and Misty (my youngest sister) got those same boots she was wearing for Christmas! Universal Records has been really awesome to work with and also really supportive and involved. It’s actually pretty rare to say amongst artists, but I love my record label!
You collaborated with a lot of different artists and penned many of the songs on your new album, Red. What was your creative process like while making and recording your first solo album?
It was writing every single day no matter what. Sometimes I would force myself to sit down with a guitar and just…try. Try anything, any idea. In my head I would think, “Come on. I’ve been writing all week…I don’t feel…inspired.” But oddly enough, sometimes when I would force myself to sit and mess around on a guitar, inspired or not inspired, some of my best work would come out. I remember my manager basically forced me to sit and write one day when my creative well was running dry, and all of a sudden, lyrics just poured out of me so organically. That’s how “Trapeze” was born.
“I Will,” your duet with Blake Shelton on the new album, really speaks to the friendship that you two have made since working together on The Voice. How has it been on tour with your former coach? And how has being under his guidance influenced you and your music style?
Blake is an amazing person and mentor. It has been amazing to perform with him on tour. We also get to open up the show, which has been a dream come true. Blake is someone that always gives. Not just to me, but to everyone. He tries to help everyone and doesn’t expect anything in return. Now that’s rare. I’m very grateful that I got him as my coach! Also, I love watching his show! It’s a great show, and he’s a great performer, not to mention his band! Every single musician that plays with him are out of this world! I have always loved country music too, so it’s been great to be around it. I think you can hear a bit of country in songs like “I Will, “Trapeze,” and ”Isabella.”
Have you been keeping up with the new season of The Voice? Which coach do you think is going to take it this year? Any favorite contestants?
I have been keeping up with it as much as possible. Although, it’s usually from clips on the internet since we’re usually playing a show when it’s airing! There are so many talented people on this year it’s hard to say who’s gonna take the crown this year. I’ve just been enjoying watching all of the unique voices come through. Some of those singers…I mean…wow… That’s all I can say. Wow.
If we were to browse your iPod right now, what artists or songs would we find?
Foster the People, Florence and the Machine, John Mayer, Mumford & Sons, Tom Petty, and Modest Mouse. I really like some 2NE1 songs, too.
You’re half-Dutch and half-Korean. Did you have many Korean influences in your life growing up?
Yes. My mom spoke Korean a lot when I was younger. She moved over here from Seoul when she was 26 years old. Imagine moving from the big city of Seoul to little Logan, Utah. Let’s just say.. it’s a VERY tiny town. She didn’t know any English, so she spoke a lot of Korean when Meg and I were younger. Meg can understand Korean very well, but cannot speak it. I pick up on words here and there. My mom cooked a lot of Korean food when I was younger although it was hard to find in Utah at the time. I remember my mom telling me a story about how she missed kimchi. She was telling my dad’s dad about it, and he went out to the store and brought sauerkraut home! Haha. And he said, “This is pickled cabbage. Is this kind of like kimchi?” Ha! My mom ate it to be polite. I remember my mom always singing me kid songs in Korean when I would go to sleep. There was one about a bunny rabbit…I still remember it a little bit.
We hear you’re a huge fan of Korean food. So we have to ask, what’s your favorite Korean dish?
I really love kimchi, but that’s a given! (I can make my own kimchi now at home! My mom taught me!) I love, love, love bibimbap too and soondubu jjigae.
You recently posted a cover of “Nobody” by the Wonder Girls. Would you ever consider having a music career in South Korea?
Oh my goodness, YES! It is a huge dream of mine to be able to go over to Korea and perform! I would also love to collaborate with a Korean artist! That would be amazing!
Now that you’ve released your first solo album, what’s next for Dia Frampton?
I am hoping to tour internationally sometime this year. My plans this year are just to be on the road playing shows. I’m ready to work hard and promote my album!
When it comes to AYCE Korean BBQ, most people can’t put quality and quantity in the same sentence. Gen Korean BBQ in Tustin, CA refuses to make that compromise. The moment you walk in, you get the sense that this is going to be a different kind of AYCE experience.
If Tron wanted Korean BBQ, he would feel right at home at Gen. Electrifying blue and white lights line the spacious white leather booths, and upbeat electro music plays in the background as you devour your food. Looking around, you realize that the ambience definitely caters to a younger crowd.
Left: Kobe Chadol; Right (Clockwise): Saeng Galbi, Beef Tongue, Joomulluk
This is not the place to just fill up on chadolbaegi and samgyeopsal. Gen is all about offering quality meats and ingredients while still fulfilling their customers’ desire for variety. Gen offers 25 different meat and dish selections. With each order, servers actually bring out smaller portions – not to cheat hungry eaters – but so that each table can try as many different types of cuts and flavors as possible.
Noteworthy Selections: #1: Gen Signature Prime Steak
#4: Kobe Chadol
#6: Kobe Woosul – Beef Tongue
#9: Saeng Galbi
#24: Spicy Rice Cake (pictured left)
Accompaniments that go with your meats include the standard mixture of sesame oil and salt, sweetened soy sauce, and spicy chili. The standout condiment is Gen’s exclusive salt and green tea powder mixture, which hits the spot for those with a salty palate.
Gen opened in September of last year, but its huge following only continues to grow. A two-hour wait is standard for peak hours and weekends, but the time spent scuffling your feet outside is worth it. In response to the high demand, Gen is in the process of remodeling its former bar and patio area. The remodeling will double the size of space for diners, and Gen plans on finishing its expansion by the end of February or early March.
Gen is open until midnight so it is a popular destination for not only meat-hungry customers, but also those looking for a fun place to drink. Gen just started a Happy Hour, which goes from 9:30pm to closing and includes $3 beers and $6 soju cocktails.
Tips for a successful eating adventure:
Try to arrive during off-hours in order to minimize your wait time. Weekdays before 5pm and after 8:30pm are usually the best times to go.
Compared to dinner at $20, lunch is only an easy $15. Keep in mind though that Gen does offer different meats for their lunch and dinner menus.
Even though Gen gives a 2-hour limit for eating, pace yourself! Order small waves of plates so that you don’t get too full by the time you hit the 1-hour mark.
Gen Korean BBQ & Yakitori Bar 13741 Newport Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780
Whether counting snowflakes in the East or sun-bathing in the West, food lovers everywhere (and their stomachs, too!) will be satisfied with this week’s Crave Alert.
Bossam, or bo ssäm, is a beloved Korean dish that involves wrapping delicious pork belly with sangchu (leafy vegetables, typically red lettuce). Each bite-sized wrap is complemented with a dab of ssamjang – a semi-spicy paste combination of doenjang and gochujang. According to your tastes, you can add rice, garlic, onions, peppers, raw oysters, and kimchi to your bossam too.
If you manage to snag a seat at Momofuku Ssäm Bar in New York, you are in for a treat. The New York Times recently featured Chef David Chang’s version of bossam – calling it the “The Bo Ssam Miracle” – which includes a whole slow cooked pork shoulder and a dozen oysters. New York Magazine provides Chang’s famous bossamrecipe for those of you at home who are tired of making the same ol’ burrito wraps for lunch.
Granted, if you’re looking for a more authentic tasting of bossam, you’re going to have to travel into the heart of K-towns everywhere. In Los Angeles, Kobawoo House has amazing spreads of bossam that keep customers lined up for more. As further proof, LA Weekly put Kobawoo on its list of 99 essential restaurants in Los Angeles for 2011. Grab some friends, and order the “Wang Bossam” (translated as “King Bossam”) which is large enough to feed three people.
Kobawoo House 698 S. Vermont Ave. Suite 109
Los Angeles, CA 90005
[Photos: Chris A/Yelp, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Mookie D/Yelp]
Korean Food USA is a new series that showcases Korean and Korean-inspired eateries all around the nation.
Owner Kamala Saxton (right) with her employees
Asian fusion food has been all the rage lately, but few have seen as much success as the Korean taco. Take our previous post on the flourishing Hankook Taqueria in Atlanta as a prime example. Seattle‘s version of the Korean taco is curated by Marination Mobile, a food truck specializing in Hawaiian-Korean cuisine. Owners Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison have perfected their business so much that Good Morning America declared Marination Mobile “America’s Best Food Truck.” Not a bad feat for two home cooks with no professional culinary training!
Marination Mobile’s key menu items are their tacos, sliders, kimchi fried rice, kimchi quesadilla, and SPAM musubi. Beverages include soda and Hawaiian Sun soft drinks, as well as beer. The store front mimics the close quarters of a food truck, and while there are a few stools and ledges to sit and eat, a mobile food experience is still promoted. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of these food items!
Marination’s savory tacos feature two soft corn tortillas stuffed with your choice of filling (kalbi, spicy pork, miso ginger chicken, or ‘sexy’ tofu) and topped with a pile of sweet slaw, adding a cool, zesty crunch to the otherwise warm dish. Pickled pepper slices and a wedge of lime come on the side. Add a drizzle of Sriracha to turn up the heat, if that’s your flavor.
Perhaps Marination’s most signature dish besides tacos are their sliders. Nestled inside of a sliced sweet bun are your choice of juicy shreds of kalua pork or a hunk of SPAM, topped with crunchy slaw. If the thought of eating SPAM makes you wary, it’s in your best interest to at least take a bite. After all, there’s a reason why SPAM is considered Hawaii’s unofficial food!
Take a traditional tortilla and cheese quesadilla, add a few bits of kimchi, and top with a handful of slaw and zesty sauce. this is Marination’s take on a classic snack, and it’s good to every last bite.
Kimchi Fried Rice
For their last signature dish, Marination takes another classic dish of fried rice and adds Korean ingredients to really maximize the flavor. Starting with a traditional fried rice base, kimchi is added, along with a fried egg and swirl of green onion and furikake to top it off. Vegetarians can eat the dish as is, or meat lovers can add savory kalbi for an added cost.
Marination Mobile has stimulated so much business that last April, a store front called Marination Station was opened in the Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill, while the truck continues to roam local neighborhoods. Another store front is planned to open in West Seattle this year.
Starting today, you can submit your recipe(s) and enter for a chance go on a “Hansik Journey” to South Korea with Super Junior! Check out the details below to enter! Deadline to submit is December 31, 2011. To enter, click here.
Here’s a video of Super Junior’s Kyu Hyun and Ryeo Wook talking about their go-to Korean dish, bibimbap!
When you’re hungry, you just gotta eat… no matter what time of the day it is! Luckily, Los Angeles offers plenty of restaurants that embrace all eaters when late night cravings hit.
Every restaurant on our list of the Top 5 Late-Night Eats is open 24/7. So if you’re still thinking about that amazing meal after you wake up, you can go back and satisfy your taste buds right away. Chances are the same workers will still be there, and they’ll probably remember you from just a few hours before. Not to mention, all of the dishes highlighted can please post-drinking munchies and help nurse those nasty morning-afters.
1) Hodori Restaurant – Yukgaejang
Ask any Korean in L.A. for the most popular place to eat late at night, and few will forget to mention Hodori. Hodori is a staple in Koreatown and is known for its large assortment of Korean dishes, meaning that everyone will find their perfect pick-me-up.
Hodori is a favorite for both Koreans and non-Koreans who are looking for some quick service and delicious food after a night out. Not many establishments can say that their busiest times are from midnight-5am. Yukgaejang, a spicy dish consisting of shredded beef and scallion and enokitake mushroom toppings, is one of Hodori’s most popular dishes and is definitely big enough to feed two hungry stomachs. With written text lining its walls, Hodori proudly proclaims, “Bring me your tired, your poor, your hungry drunken masses yearning to be fed.”
If you’re looking for something to warm you up during the wee hours of the night and early morning, BCD Tofu House has what you’re looking for!
Although BCD, a.k.a Buk Chang Dong, is a huge restaurant chain with locations in California, New York, Washington, and South Korea, many who have dined at various BCD locations are adamant that the BCD on Wilshire & Kingsley is the best of them all. BCD specializes in Soon dubu jjigae—a spicy stew with large amounts of soft tofu that arrives at your table boiling in a hot stone pot. There are many different types of soondubu jjigae: original (with beef or pork), seafood, kimchi, dumpling, doenjang (soybean paste), ham & sausage, and for vegans, there’s also a mushroom soon dubu option! Most hungry customers opt for their special combos, which provide both steaming soondubu and sizzling Korean BBQ. BCD Wilshire is temporarily closed until February 2012, but the nearby Western branch is open for late-night soon dubu crawls.
3) Keungama Korean Restaurant – Haejangguk & Gamjatang
“Our Gamjatang is our pride.”
Haejangguk (“soup to chase a hangover”), is a word that can describe any variety of delicious Korean soups and stews that are usually consumed after a long night of drinking. Keungama specializes in haejangguk, a hearty dish usually comprised of ox bone broth, veggie toppings, and coagulated ox blood. Keungama’s Gamjatang is a customer favorite, and its spicy broth mixed with pork neck and potatoes hits the right spot after one of those nights. Best of all, Keungama doesn’t use any MSG!
You’ll most likely see a plate of Jeonbokjuk on every table after 3 a.m.
This small restaurant is a hidden gem for those Korean “Angelenos” who want to avoid the late night crowds. Located in a tiny strip mall, Mountain Café (a.k.a. Ssan) is a bit hard to find because its name is absent from the outside of the restaurant. Mountain Café is a mom-and-pop shop that can probably seat about twelve people (which is still pushing it) so avoid going here with large groups. But, if it’s just a few of you, Mountain Café is definitely a spot that you should check out.
Its specialties include Jeonbokjuk, stomach-soothing abalone porridge that Mountain Café likes to serve with an egg yolk on top, and Samgyetang, a soup that comes with ginseng and a whole chicken stuffed with rice in a hot stone pot.
Mountain Café 3064 W. 8th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
5) Pho 2000 – Oxtail Pho
Yes, Koreans can rock the pho out too! Remember, this is a Korean rendition of pho so Pho 2000 won’t have that authentic Vietnamese pho that you might be used to.
One favorite among customers is Pho 2000′s Oxtail Pho, a seolleongtang-inspired dish that comes with a steaming side bowl of tender oxtail meat. Pho 2000 is another popular go-to place for Koreans after a night of partying, so be ready for some crowds during the weekends. But don’t worry! Its huge bowls of pho come out fast, a feat that is especially appreciated by its hungry customers. After all, time spent waiting when inebriated always feels like an eternity.
With the recent push to globalize Korean cuisine, accompanied with the rising popularity of Korean fusion food, we thought it was only fair to return to the OG of Korean fusion dishes – budae jjigae!
Created during the Korean War when food was scarce, budae jjigae (which translates to “army stew”) became a favorite among both Korean locals and American soldiers. Some stories even say that Koreans would cook budae jjigae in helmets when cooking pots couldn’t be found. At the time, Koreans could only eat whatever was readily available. From surpluses of U.S. rations, Koreans first encountered foods like spam and hot dogs. Unsure on how to use these odd proteins, Koreans simply threw them into a hot pot of vegetables, gochujang, and water to make a spicy and hearty stew. And thus, budae jjigae made its entrance into Korean street cuisine.
A boiling cauldron of budae jjigae at Chunju Han-il Kwan
Budae jjigae is cooked and served in a huge pan that is placed on the table where everyone can easily ladle it into their bowls or dip in their spoons. Budae jjigae is a hot pot dish so you’ll see a wide variety of ingredients. Ingredients typically include ramen noodles, spam, hot dogs, tofu, rice cakes, green onions, kimchi, and any assortment of vegetables such as carrots, bean sprouts, and onions. Some restaurants even put in a slice of cheese for extra texture.
Budae jjigae is a great option to make at home because ingredients can change each time depending on what’s available in the kitchen. Still, most Koreans love eating budae jjigae at restaurants and especially while they’re drinking. That’s why you’ll often see budae jjigae on the menu at sooljibs. Not only is it a great anju that can be shared among several people, budae jjigae is one of those magical dishes that warms your stomach as the alcohol warms your face.
Pocha 32 15 W. 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001
Chunju Han-il Kwan 3450 W. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90020
On Wednesday, South Korea’s First Lady, Kim Yoon-Ok, met with Korean and Korean American chefs, bloggers, and important figures leading the way for hansik (Korean cuisine) in the NYC food scene. Kim, who plays an active role in the Korean government’s effort to globalize Korean food, visited chef Hooni Kim‘s Danji, a restaurant serving modern Korean cuisine, and Social Eatz, a restaurant famous for its glorious Bibimbap Burger, to give tips on how Korean and Korean fusion restaurants can further promote Korean cuisine, reports The Korea Times.
Emily Kim, First Lady Kim Young-Ok, CIA student Joon-su Bae, Marja Vongerichten, and Ham Ji Bach’s Young-han Kim
Some of the people in attendance were Maangchi‘s Emily Kim (who blogged about her meeting with the First Lady), Social Eatz‘ owner Bobby Kwak and chef Angelo Sosa, Kimchi Chronicles‘ Jean-Georges and Marja Vongerichten, and Peter Kang, founder of Korean Food Gallery. During the meeting, Kim commended them for their efforts in promoting Korean cuisine and culture in the U.S. and pointed out how Korean restaurants serving traditional Korean dishes were key in successfully introducing hansik to a wide range of people and palates.
Kim’s trip to NYC’s Korean food scene is another step in the Korean government’s billion-dollar-plus campaign to promote Korean cuisine and ultimately be ranked in the world’s top 5 cuisines by 2017. Though it takes time and persistence, we hope bibimbap and kimchi jjigae will become well known as dishes from other Asian countries like sushi and Pad Thai.