Nyala, tasty poop
Pile of brown Ethiopian foodstuff

Have I mentioned how much I dislike Filipino food? Or how the inexplicably expensive food in Costa Rica sucked hairy baboon Howler monkey balls? Or how most of Ethiopian food looks (and sometimes tastes) like piles of exploded infant shit? Shortly following those word vomiting bouts someone (especially the jingoist Koreans) typically chimes in with labels of the R word. But here, two Jews go down the same paths and says “not every country’s cuisine is worthy of celebrating.” Something always sounds better when a couple of crotchety Jews write it. Irony: matzo ball soup is tasteless.

Here again, First We Feast is spot-on: gluttony may not be a sin, but it’s gross as hell, as are all the food writing tards promote it, from bloggers, to those hideous list-generators (Zagat, T+W), to “print” writers. There’s nothing “foodie” about that diseased pork in your spam ramen / onigiri. It doesn’t matter if the rice in this case is shaped in triangles, it doesn’t matter if these omasubushis exist in “authentic” Hawaii. Putrid is putrid. Irony: this declaration was written by a website called “First We Feast”.

Oxymoron and an admission: I recently declared I ate all of Craft’s dessert (six to seven items) in one sitting. Actually, I didn’t. The desserts were all shared, and half of the them were doggy bagged for consumption over a period of three days.

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In case the embedding didn’t work, try this link for the video instead:

chakhan-2

In other news, in case anyone has been following, Channel A recently released the show on Korean food as “global cuisine” through PD Lee’s Food X File. The two finalists for the best “good natured” Korean cuisine in America were Soban and Cham in Pasadena. Cham won. Soban lost, mostly because they’re not as English-friendly, hence it’s not as “good natured”. The concept of “chak han” is a bit hard to explain in English, but let’s GLOSS OVER ALL THE FOG AND SMOG. During filming, the diners were told to judge a restaurant on “5″ absolutely criteria: cleanliness, taste, service, price, decor. The winner would have the higher rating and win the award. At the time, Soban was everyone’s choice, despite repeated balloting.

The Hungry Trojan suggested X-File wasn’t offering the “best” LA restaurant by rewarding CHAM with the plaque:

chuk han

I’m countering the slang use of the denotation of chak-han means exactly that. They think CHAM is a “good natured” restaurant. It’s a “gooder” restaurant than Soban, which, as far as I’m concerned, is probably the most ingredient-driven, soulful, non-soju driven, least profit-driven restaurant in Ktown. If CHAM’s better than Soba, it has to be the best in LA. There’s nothing lost in translation.

The fact that a “hip” show, so keen on restaurant slang, so prone to guerilla style sensational editing, would insist on selecting CHAM as the winner, despite the vote of confidence by English-speaking writers which they hired, was a huge disappointment. I don’t care if the show kept true to connotation of the award title, it did a huge disservice to the Korean food community in Los Angeles, to the wah-gook sarams, even to other Asians who are so highly attracted to Korean food thanks to hallyu. CHAM served the most lamentable Asian food outside of SGV, K-Town in ’11. The fact that these poor American foodnerd types were forced to eat it over and over, and were then coerced into proclaiming as “highly recommendable” simply reninforces the fact that the whole country of Korea needs to refocus its obsession with the dramatic issue of MSG-use. MSG is bad, we get it, but in the case of CHAM, just because it’s not using MSG, doens’t make it tasty. And tasty is far more important than “good natured”. On the other hand, one of the videographers noted CHAM has the daegi bulgogi closest to the taste of Seoul. Take that for what it’s worth as the Wonder Girls relays the news “Sometimes L.A. Korean Food Is Better Than In Korea“.

In the end, CHAM received the best restaurant award simply because of one reason: the staffer spoke fluent English, which led to presence of white Pasadenians in CHAM. There you go folks: TV land, Korean style, revealed.

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And now, for the worst segway ever: best newish “good natured” Korean restaurant, as of December 2012, in Los Angeles, Cho Man Won.

Cho Man1-sm



First, it’s a reverse expansion of a popular Korean restaurant in Buena Park mostly known for the quick service Korean-Chinese cuisine. As an aside: this may be the very first time I’ve ever touted a Korean-Chinese restaurant as anything BUT disgusting. On a pedestrian unfriendly stretch of Olympic, Cho Man Won is doing “good natured” things.

It meets all the requirements of a chak-han restaurant — tasty, affordable, great service, clean. It even passes the English test. How, you ask? This is a kare-kare joint. Point to the placard menu, stick out the correct number of fingers for the number of orders, and wait. Pointing is universal ordering, hopefully your mom taught you this, because mine didn’t. The dumplings are made on the premises, and the kimchi version is mostly vegetarian, stuffed with tofu, vermicelli, and some kimchi. It certainly isn’t as satisfying as a plate of dumplings from Pearl’s, but they’re extremely fresh, and priced beyond reasonably during the opening period. These jjinmandu are shaped like . And, by the way, by definition, Koreans have gotten it wrong for 700 years: mandu isn’t filled, jiaozi is filled. They need to refinance the loan word and send a memo out in the form of a PSA attached to Korean dramas.

This is strictly a Chinese restaurant. There’s sweet and sour pork, there’s jjampong noodles served in a cauldron large enough to bath a baby in, there’s zha jiang mian. The zha jiang mian here is almost non-Korean with its pale sauce which had a richness which is provided by copious amount of pork. Cho Man Won may be the only Korean restaurant doing a “right” zha jiang mian that doesn’t offend a Chinaman. For that, kudos, ladies.

Cho Man-sm

Regarding other aspects of a winning chak-han restaurant — the place is new, so it’s clean. The ladies, not ajuma’s, mostly omma’s, hustle. They run the food to you, and they speed walk the check over. They’re svelt because they’re on their feet 12 hours a day, racking up 50,000 steps in a tiny restaurant. Nearly 40% of the restaurant is patioed, but because there’s no alcohol license, and the clientele is full of families and children, hardly anyone smokes. Prices? You’ll be glad you sat through 1100 words full of typos: $4 for kimchi dumplings and $8 for a huge bowl of noodle soups, $5.50 for a bowl of zha jiang myeon. This is winning, and Cham is full of funny ha ha’s.

Cho Man Won
2881 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Cho Man Won on Urbanspoon

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