Opened about a month ago on the corner of Sixth and Catalina, Insadong Galbi Noodle is in a prime location, with Ham Ji Park as a Royal Plaza neighbor and Dan Sung Sa within view across the street. You may know the space as the previous home of BonChon Chicken.
The name Insadong refers to a district in Seoul, well-known for its vibrant art scene. You'll see a tribute of sorts at the restaurant: Running the length of the space, the main wall is covered with near life-size street scenes of the district at night.
The other half of its name is pretty obvious, although the menu is more varied than just noodles. There are seven noodle options, available in either hot or cold broths. There are stews, several rice combos including galbi bibimbap, and a handful of “snacks for alcohol.” And by that, Insadong seems to recommend ribs grilled or stewed, savory pancakes and dotorimuk (seasoned acorn jelly) with your Hite or soju.
There is indeed a galbi noodle soup, a pretty sizable bowl of noodles in beef broth stewed at length, served with two to three ribs of beef, a smattering of chopped scallions and the occasional sliver of zucchini. Those who've had Taiwanese beef noodle of the qingzheng (clear broth) school will likely find similarities in taste.
Unlike other versions you may have had in the neighborhood, an order of mul naengmyun, cold noodles in broth topped with shredded chicken, turnip slices and julienned Asian pear, brings bottles of vinegar and sweet mustard along with banchan. The latter may include japchae (stir-fried sweet potato noodles) or sliced eomuk (fish cakes). The appetizers, added to the small dish of dduk, or rice cakes, and hot barley tea given shortly after you're seated, could fill you up before you even see your order.
Insadong Galbi Noodle: 3407 W. Sixth St., Los Angeles; (213) 568-3760.
Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. Follow the author on Twitter at @chrstnchiao.