Kimchi is one of this planet's great culinary inventions. Cabbage mixed with something spicy and something funky, left to ferment underground in jars, is a genius move — one that is rightfully celebrated to this day. And what's even more interesting is that while most kimchi looks pretty similar, different cooks somehow create very different versions using almost identical ingredients.
The cooks at Da Jeong in Koreatown, tucked behind Olympic Spa, have created a nearly magical version of kimchi. It's deeply funky, barely spicy, and literally effervescent on the tongue. (Actually, maybe their secret ingredient is fairy dust.)
Most items at Da Jeong are quite good, especially the bossam, slices of pork belly served with raw cabbage, garlic, jalapeños and lightly fermented daikon. The restaurant really shines with its banchan, a varied collection of braised, pickled and boiled vegetables from potatoes to seaweed.
But that kimchi is the true star. Maybe some fairy dust does get mixed in, but the exceptional flavor probably comes from shrimp paste and oysters. Remember: As in all things, the funkier the better.
983 Fifth Ave., Koreatown. (323) 931-8900