Kobawoo: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

After several years and many gallons of soju devoted to the subject, I have determined that my favorite Korean dish is almost certainly bossam, a combination plate of steamed pork belly, raw oysters, special kimchi, raw garlic and a salty condiment made from tiny fermented shrimp, all of which you wrap into a sort of cabbage-leaf taco. (Bossam restaurants tend also to specialize in jokbal, a truly nasty boiled pig's foot dish, but we can discuss that another time.) If you should find yourself thirsty and in need of a pork belly, you may as well hit up the Koreatown bossam specialist Kobawoo, a polished, respectable destination restaurant with some of the best food in Koreatown, at prices almost unbelievably low. The restaurant has a decent version of samgyetang, a soothing chicken-in-the-pot stuffed with ginseng and sticky rice, and those pig's feet of course, boiled and pressed into a terrine. The seafood pancakes, stuffed with improbable amounts of octopus, are a big draw — the pancakes are ethereal beneath their thin veneer of crunch — although the mung bean pancakes are significantly crunchier. And the house bossam is an elegant preparation that, like so many other Korean dishes, seems almost custom-designed to ease down a bottle of soju. 698 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown. (213) 389-7300. Mon.-Sun., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Beer and wine. Valet, lot parking. V, MC. Korean.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

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