Chef Jenee Kim clearly doesn’t enjoy standing pat. The Park’s BBQ doyenne has had a hit on her hands since 2003, and she’s expanded her Korean vision several times since then. Pork-focused Don Dae Gam and adjacent LaOn Dining had brief runs. Fast-casual Oleego by Park’s BBQ now has three L.A. locations. Now her latest effort, Park’s Hot Pot, a tabletop soup restaurant in K-town’s IB Plaza, is slowly building steam.
The space and concept are fairly simple. The front door leads into a dining room with gray walls, copper hoods and speckled black tables with cutouts for hot pots. A small, second-floor patio has limited seating and basically serves as a holding pen on busy nights.
Each experience begins with a parade of banchan, the small plates that are expected with each Korean meal. Tiny white dishes might contain chile-soaked cucumbers, a scoop of potato salad flecked with carrots and scallions, egg-battered vegetables (jeon), strips of slightly sweet fish cake and crunchy marinated bean sprouts.
A wall-mounted menu breaks down the simple choices. Start by stating your prime beef preference ($23 to $28). Selections consist of thin-shaved rib-eye, flatiron steak or brisket.
The two-compartment pot comes with bubbling vegetable, beef or spicy fish broth, bobbing with chilies and bean sprouts. Get a half-and-half combo at no extra charge. You'll also choose from six different noodles: glass, flat, thin, udon, ramen or sujebi (house-made dough flakes). If you're looking to bulk up, add either house-made dumplings or extra noodles.
Your server will bring hot broth and bowls of vegetables including spinach, crunchy cabbage and a couple types of mushrooms. Use tongs to toss in meat and noodles. The broth is extremely hot, so ingredients cook quickly. Finish the hot pot with a trio of dipping sauces: peanut sauce, chili sauce and soy sauce featuring jalapeño and daikon.
To finish, be sure to request savory porridge ($3), which takes your strained broth and loads it with minced vegetables, nori flakes, a squeeze of sesame oil and a cracked egg, which acts as a thickening agent as the liquid cooks down to peak consistency.
You’ll also find specials including prime rib-eye bulgogi and crisp griddled scallion pancakes studded with rock shrimp, which all previously proved their mettle at Park’s BBQ. If you’re in a big group, add these items, but otherwise hot pot is plenty hearty.