Who and what is Kang Ho Dong? He’s a Korean pro wrestler turned TV variety act host/comedian.
And here he is announcing his “provisional” retirement from entertainment after being accused of tax evasions:
Oh Korea, why you so daruma lah! But anyway, in order to
evade taxes further support his legal defense, GHD opened a KBBQ emporium in Seoul in summer of 2011. Apparently people could not get enough of this funnny cherub and in January, Gong Ho Dong (or, Kang HoDong) opened another branch in Chapman Plaza of Ktown, Los Angeles. The response has been overwhelming. By February, Yi Ssa Hwa Ro, across the Chapman Plaza’s courtyard, sits empty on the weekend while KHD sports a 1+ hour wait.
As in Korea, Kang Hodong shells out the minimum amount of panchan. You’re given a few bowls of sauced ruffage (the soybean with green onions is surprisingly good), a bowl of corn-syruped kabocha, and some raw mirepoix to be griddled.
And that is absolutely OK, because Kang Hodong kills it with the meat combinations. $45 gets you the beef combo: galbi, cha dol (a must-skip, but you have no choice) and kkot deung sim (sliced ribeye) or kkot sal (prime boneless short rib). Just look at the evenly marbled beef above. Sear both sides, rest, serve it up medium rare; salt late, drizzle some vinegary soy and voila, better steak than Dan Tana. The $40 Pork combo gets you pork neck, pork belly, pork short rib (daeji kalbi) or thinly sliced marinaded pork belly. Instead of pushing out a dozen junk bond status panchan, Mr. Kang’s Kitchen puts quality in the meats, and thereby making Korean food right. How much better is marinaded pork belly over regular sam gyup ssal? The simple addition of a marinade brings Korean cuisine up to the culinary astuteness of the Chinese. It’s one small step for Korean kind but… it’s a big and tasty one:
The positive news doesn’t stop here as the service is also spectacular. Switching between beef and pork brings out 2 different griddles (both feature the moat to be discussed further). And Look at this young man’s head as he squats to take the order:
Either combo ends with a bowl of deeply satisfying brisket doenjang jjigae that exudes beefiness above and beyond the typical fermented soybeans. Another trans-pacific feature oft touted at Kang Hodong is the egg moat. This is imported straight from KHD Seoul — a channel surrounds the griddle, and is meant to store fat drippings. At Kang Hodong, the channel also serves as a cooking vessel and the resulting gyeran jjim is a crowd pleaser. Personally, the watered down eggs carries little importance and is merely filler to compensate for the lack of panchan. The pork cuts here rivals anything coming out of Don Dae Gam or Gam Ji Park, and are almost inexpensive. Enjoy Thai style grilled pork neck? Do it yourself here, and toss some griddled kimchi on top. The quality of meats here is so high it almost makes you forget this man is a white-collar criminal. Good times K-town. Just remember to pass on the $12 bottles of soju, some of the priciest in town.
NB: besides pushing the most expensive booze in Ktown, Kang Ho Dong is also the smokiest restaurant in Ktown, even more so than Soot Bul Gi Rim. You can not escape the smoke as the act of simply waiting by the door means being attack by the waif of smoke.