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Bulgogi and Good Company

I love eating out. I really and sincerely do. I am more than willing to eat alone or at least with one other person. However, if I can get a group of good friends together, then that is always better. The only thing that can top great food is eating great food with good company.

Friday night was the first official Korean BBQ Night – hosted and put together by yours truly – for a group of my coworkers. All of them are lovely women who I get along with well. Usually we have our lunch breaks together, or at least our lunch breaks overlap enough that we get to pass by one another. One of these ladies is leaving our little nest to pursue another position, and I thought it would be a good idea for all us to get together and have a final meal.

One of the benefits to living in Los Angeles is the beauty of its diversity. There are not only great restaurants, but so many types of cuisine to enjoy! There are pockets of the city where an ethnicity or nationality is more dominant, and one can enjoy the native dishes of that particular culture. One such location is Korea Town, more commonly abbreviated as K-Town. If you know anything about Korean food, one of the more popular dishes is Korean Barbecue. Even more so, All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ is what it’s all about.

Now, there is plenty of debate about the best places for Korean BBQ, and my bid has always gone to Hae Jang Chon. Nestled in the heart of K-Town, Hae Jang Chon – in my humble opinion – has some of the best food to offer. I know that is a pretty big claim to make, but I stand by my choice. To support me, every person I have ever recommended this place to has not been disappointed!

Hae Jang Chon

Hae Jang Chon… the place with the pig for a mascot. ¹

Now, I attest some of the great flavor of their food to not only preparation, but also to the use of stone grills. I was raised on using cast iron skillets and dutch-ovens for every type of cooking from frying to baking to popping popcorn and everything in-between; to this day I will cook with nothing else. I have found that there is a flavoring added to anything one cooks when using cast iron. The fact that the grills are stoneware, suggests much of the same to me. As for their meat types and offerings, there is certainly a wide assortment from traditional meats of pork, beef, and chicken to seafood choices of shrimp, octopus, and squid.

However, while good meat is what you come for, the side dishes offered are just as delicious and excellent compliments to the main course. My personal favorites are the spicy mung bean sprouts and the Chinese broccoli. However, there is also pickled radish, kimchi, potato salad, a fresh green salad, steamed white rice or fried rice, kimchi pancake, and another personal favorite – steamed egg. All of which can be reordered as needed and comes with the cost of the meal. If I have forgotten any side dishes, please forgive me. My point is that you are going to get your bang for your buck!

Speaking of money, pricing is what I like to call L.A. reasonable. I’ve been going to this place for years, and over the years I have watched the costs steadily increase. Not alarmingly so, but enough. As of right now, lunch starts at $19.99 per person for the All-You-Can Eat meal; dinner starts at $21.99. I say start because this does not include drinks – other than water. A soda – served by the can – is $2.00. They also offer wine and beer at varying prices. Also, it should be noted that there is a $15.00 charge if there is any meat left over. So, come hungry my friends!!

A few final details I think should certainly be mentioned is that the service is great. As often found in these sorts of establishments, there is a call bell at every table. If you need any service at all, just press the button, and someone from the friendly staff will come to assist you. I have to admit I find this to be an efficient form of service, instead of waiting to catch the eye of your one appointed waiter who may or may not be in a good mood. Also, if you plan on visiting for dinner be ready for a wait. After 7pm, I have waited as long as an hour and half to be seated with my party. After 8 pm, I have, willingly, waited upwards of 2 hours. Now that seems late, you think you might be rushed to eat, but Hae Jang Chon closes at 2 am in the morning. So, unless you are walking in at 1 am in the morning, you have plenty of time to eat. What’s more, they do not accept reservations for parties under 6 people. If you do plan an outing with a large group, book your table early, more than a week in advance if you can.

So, how did my night out with the co-workers go? It almost did not happen at all. There were a lot of last minute cancellations, which left our large party down to 4, including myself. This meant no more reservation, and that we would have to be willing to wait it out for a table. I was fully prepared, but two with me had no idea what they had signed up for. However, once seated, the restaurant completely redeemed itself to them. My coworkers, who had never had Korean food before, absolutely loved the food and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We as a group tried out an array of meats, gorged ourselves on side dishes, and devoured the steam egg like there was no tomorrow.

But the best part was eating dinner with friends. Good friends, whose company I thoroughly enjoy. I can be a loner. I am known to go out and do a lot of things on my own. But this is one thing you cannot do alone. In order to even order the All-You-Can-Eat meal you have to be a party of 2 or more. So, whenever I want to eat here, I have to seek out a friend and that’s a good thing. For one, such as myself, who thrives on being on her own, I can often get caught up in that lifestyle and I will forget to reach out to my friends. Which is a shame, because I enjoy hosting, cooking, and entertaining the people I care about most. Putting together this Korean BBQ night reminded me of how much I need to be with others. We, as humans, are social creatures. We thrive in a community.

Just like I am slowly growing in the blog community, I must remember to continue to grow in the human community as well.

May we all be sweetly inspired.

Want to recommend other good eats in the LA area or anywhere? Let me know in the comments.

Hae Jang  Chon
3821 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 389-8777
Business Hours: 11:00 am – 2:00 am

¹ Hae Jang Chon by Michelle Lee via Flickr (license)

All photos were taken by A. Reneé, unless otherwise noted, for Darling Afflatus, 2015.


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