Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jun Won review (not published on Blackbook)

Due to a twist of fate, I am not publishing food reviews on Blackbook magazine for now. You may however continue to read about what I eat right here on www. Fattractive .com or brief blurbs on my Tumblr. Here's what I think about Jun Won located at: 3100 W 8th St Ste 101 Los Angeles, CA 90005 (213) 383-8855 We were at a fancy pizza parlor in Hollywood when my buddy leaned over and conspiratorially suggested I plan an epic, “No Reservations”-style dinner at a Korean restaurant, preferably one that is hard to find. Since moving to Koreatown about a year and a half ago, I’ve had the privilege of proximity to an incredible variety of Korean eateries and so seem like someone who might the hook up for the down low. Some are ridiculous, like the pirate-themed Crazy Hook that serves beer in towering tubes and really bland Mexican food, while others are historically cool, like perennial favorite among those-in-the-know The Prince. Unfortunately, most of my first experiences with Korean food in Los Angeles occurred exclusively at smoky barbeque joints with blaring Western pop music hardly drowning out the squeals of large parties at neighboring tables. Now, I have nothing against a good barbeque. Be it from North Carolina, Texas, or Tennessee, I am the first at the grill with my paper plate. Nor is it the case that I think Korean barbeque sucks. Many delicious soy-sauce-marinated meats have found themselves in my happy belly. Instead, I take offense to the assumption that this culinary amusement park represents Korean cuisine in all its home-style glory when in actuality traditional Korean meals are much more subtle and complex. All of which banter brings me to declaring Jun Won on 8th Street and the corner of Berendo the perfect go to spot for an authentic dinner adventure. Jun Won does not have a proper website, which adds to its existing mysterious allure. The sign on the side of the building facing 8th Street simply reads “Korean Restaurant” underneath blue Korean symbols while the door on 8th Street remains locked during business hours. Patrons must enter through the rear side of the building, and only after descending a set of stairs and rounding a corner. So, Jun Won definitely fills the hard to find factor. But, obviously, the real reason to find it is to eat. As with most successful Korean restaurants, Jun Won has a specialty. Beyond the requisite banchan (complimentary small dishes), Jun Won excels at fish. Steamed fish, fried fish, fish in a “casserole” soup—one could easily feel trapped in a Bubba Gump spinoff. The most popular menu item is black cod, phonetically pronounced “joh reem” and prepared extra spicy, but any day’s special will taste exactly the way my Korean grandmother intended. As might be expected for a dining room with such a homey vibe, it’s a family affair. Bespectacled Jeff Jun manages the joint that his mother Jung Ye Jun owns and does a mighty fine job of making his non-Korean guests feel comfortable. He guides menu selection and, at least on my first group visit, imparts fun cultural information such as drinking unfiltered soju from brass bowls while pouring generously into each. Tables at Jun Won can fit only six comfortably, but a memorable night is guaranteed. Read more about Jun Won at the Los Angeles Times and Yelp.

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