It’s that time of the year: the month of wearing sweaters and drinking tea while being wrapped in blankets. Many know winter is the season where people want to indulge in eating to keep both the mind and stomach happy. Let’s take a look at 4 popular Korean winter foods and where you can find them in Koreatown!
- Red Bean Soup (팥죽)
Here is another food that symbolizes winter in Korea: red beans. Pat Juk falls more into the porridge category than the soup category. The creamy red bean soup with gooey balls of rice flour is the perfect combination for those cold days. Although it can be enjoyed any day, it has significance in Korean culture: the ball of rice flour is supposed to resemble a bird egg, which has importance for Dongjinal (winter solstice). Just one bowl will keep you full, as it did for poor Korean families back in the day.
Where else in Koreatown would you go for porridge than Bon Juk? Even if you’re not down to try red bean soup, visit this restaurant that specializes in different types of Korean porridges. Many compliment their pat juk for its accuracy in recipe and sweetness in taste! If you want to kill two birds with one stone of enjoying pat juk and a chance to take a cute photo, go to Okrumong, which specializes in shaved ice. Why not have red bean for both dinner and dessert?
Bon Juk: 3551 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Okrumong: 3801 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
- Bungeoppang (붕어빵)
This Korean fish-shaped bread filled with sweet red beans can commonly be found in the streets of Korea. Despite the cold weather in Korea, people find pleasure in flocking around to get a hold of the steaming fish as well as other winter street foods such as sweet potatoes, fish cake and hotteoks. This snack is prepared on a waffle iron-like machine — the red bean is inserted in the middle while the outside molds into a crispy fish.
Now, if you’re curious as to where you can get the traditional bungeoppang in Koreatown, read ahead. When you head to the back of Hankook Supermarket, you can find these snacks that are only sold for $1. While Hankook Supermarket’s bungeoppang is known to be one of the best duplicates of the popular Korean street food, this new dessert place in Madang Mall is rising as a new star. If you want a little twist, go visit the new and hot dessert spot, Somi Somi. They essentially sell the opposite of the hot bungeoppang; it is a fish-shaped bread filled with your choice of nutella, red bean or custard as the base topped with milk, green tea, banana or chocolate ice cream. If that does not convince you, go check out those aesthetic Instagram photos.
Hankook Supermarket: 124 N Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Somi Somi: 620 S Manhattan Pl #208-A, Los Angeles, CA 90005
- Tteokguk (떡국)
Rice cake soup, or tteokguk, may be one of the classic Korean cuisines that has meaning behind it. It is an essential dish for celebrating the New Year because it not only signifies good luck but also allows one to gain a year of age. However, hot soup can be consumed and enjoyed anytime in the year, especially in the winter. People crave tteokguk for its clear broth, chewy rice cake and delicious dumplings!
Want to have a taste of this warm traditional dish in a cozy restaurant? Seong Buk Dong and Ma Dang Gook Soo will satisfy both these desires! Boasting good service and a menu of diverse dishes, both these restaurants are the place to go to experience authentic Korean cuisine. With a month away from New Year’s, grab a few friends and get cultured!
Seong Buk Dong: 3303 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Ma Dang Gook Soo: 869 S Western Ave #1, Los Angeles, CA 90005
- Naengmyeon (냉면)
Ever heard of that song by Park Myung-soo and Jessica, former member of SNSD, dedicated to naengmyeon? Korea is known for its diverse types of hot noodles; however, one of the winter delicacies is this special cold noodle. The noodles are made with buckwheat and starch, which is served with chilled beef broth with radish and hard-boiled egg. Vinegar and mustard is often accompanied as people apply as much as they need to fit their taste.
Why would people eat cold food during the winter? Although many believe that hot food helps to warm one down, cold food has its benefits — Korean people believe that adding cold food into one’s system will keep the body alert and awake.
In order to have this experience, go have a meal at Yu Chun! The restaurant has one of Koreatown’s best naengmyun, which is evident through its lines of people waiting to taste these noodles. They have both regular and spicy, so plan to make a visit during Los Angeles’ colder days!
Yu Chun: 3185 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006
These 4 winter foods are widely loved by Koreans, so it makes sense that they have made their way to Los Angeles!
By Eunice Kim