Homestyle Lunch at Bori Chon in Koreatown
Potato pancake at Bori Chon
Bori-Chon's address indicates that it's located on Wilshire, but chances are you'd miss the semi-underground restaurant if not for a few well-placed signs. They contain just enough information, alerting you to the restaurant's hours and proximity to the parking lot at the back of the building. By the time you walk through the entry corridor to get to the entryway, you'll have come to at least one conclusion: This is a sensible operation.
There's no electronic buzzer attached to the side of your table, and you won't hear K-pop tunes playing in the background. There's no crowd milling about, outside or otherwise; there's no anticipation building and little to gauge what's popular on the menu.
It's easy to scan the placemat menu for homestyle favorites, whether bibimbap, soybean paste stew or ddukbokki (rice cakes). A five-plate banchan round will arrive with your entree and not a minute sooner. You imagine this is the type of cooking found in the kitchen of a discerning home cook, never prissy and almost always reliable. There's effort to make a dish attractive; it's just not too pretty not to eat.
Take the potato pancakes, or gamjajeon. They come in pairs, with each bearing two julienned scallions lined up in parallel. Bori-Chon's version uses a potato grated not so finely that you can no longer tell its main ingredient. They're fried in enough oil that the edges are crisped golden and the center retains a chew. Kimchi soup noodles, while bearing little by way of presentation, might be too comforting for lunch with an earthy broth made of stock and kimchi brine, and a sizable portion of fettucine-wide noodles.
The restaurant opened about a year and a half ago, although if you Google it, little -- save for the standard online business registry -- will come up. The hours, weekdays only from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., dip a little into late breakfast and a little into early supper. This is primarily a lunchtime spot, during which you'll find quite a few tables occupied by a mix of professionals. They're mostly of Korean descent and probably working nearby. On occasion, there might be a lone hipster who's gotten kamsahamnida down in his linguistic repertoire, which the ajummas seem to appreciate.
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