Life is full of Google searches you will regret. “Toe Bang” is one of them. But life also is filled with experiences you will regret missing, and Koreatown restaurant Toe Bang (pronounced Toe-BONG) is one of those, too. Finding the small restaurant is the first part of the fun. It's hiding on a back street just off of Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown. Wade through a parking lot populated with Audis owned by nouveau riche nightclubbers, and you'll see the rustic restaurant clad in weathered wood, sporting a janky waterwheel out front. Inside the tiny spot is popping, as waiters shuttle giant plates of kimchi rice and piles of chicken wings to cramped tables where friends share tales while knocking back soju. The vibe is based on provincial Korean drinking halls (its name roughly translates to “dirt floor”) where rowdy diners spend hours on end, much like Japanese izakaya joints or even a German ale haus. At Toe Bang, televisions blare various sporting events, K-pop plays over speakers, and the sensory overload can seem like too much. Then a sizzling iron wok of savory “military stew” arrives at your table alongside frosty mugs of Hite beer, and your equilibrium will return: Your epic evening has just begun.
Credit: Drew Tewksbury