Sole Cafe (St. Paul, MN)


Here is a report on one of the last meals we ate out in the Twin Cities before I left for my current trip to Hong Kong and India (I’m now on the last leg, in Delhi after a week in Hong Kong and five days in Bombay). This was a rare Korean outing for us, at Sole Cafe. Sole Cafe is located on Snelling, a few blocks from University Avenue—which was, as you may recall, proclaimed by plebiscite the Twin Cities’s true eat street (or at least unilaterally by me). We have not been inclined to eat Korean out much since we got here. The reasons for this are two-fold: 1) the missus cooks it at home; 2) the places that were described to us as the Twin Cities’ best we found to be just about whelming—such were Hoban in Eagan and the food counter attached to Dong Yang in Columbia Heights. The less said about the erstwhile Rabbit Hole‘s Korean food the better. However, in recent months a number of people have recommended Sole Cafe to us and so we decided to finally give it a shot. We were very pleasantly surprised by the meal.  Continue reading

Beverly Soon Tofu (Los Angeles, December 2017)


Here is the last of my meal reports from our trip to Los Angeles in late-December. And I’m ending with our last meal out, at one of the great institutions of Koreatown: Beverly Soon Tofu. As it’s located on Olympic Blvd. and is owned by Monica Lee, you might wonder why it’s called Beverly Soon Tofu. Well, it started out on Beverly Blvd. in 1986 before moving to the present location—well, I’m not sure when that was. And adding to the semiotic confusion of the name is the fact that their external signage proclaims their name to be Beverly Tofu House. Best not to worry about all this too much and just sit down and order a bowl of their soon tofu/soon dubu (or soft tofu stew). It’s hard to order much else as their menu is limited and very focused on variations of soon tofu.  Continue reading

Hansol Noodle & Korean Food (Los Angeles, December 2017)


Back to Koreatown, Los Angeles. The night after the Oo-Kook outing with elders, we ate dinner with younger members of the missus’ extended family—two nieces and a boyfriend. They chose the restaurant and just as my nephews would in Delhi, they chose a trendy-looking restaurant in a shiny mall (the Madang Plaza at the corner of Western and 6th): Hansol Noodle & Korean Food. However, this may be the lowest-utility review I have ever posted—whether of a whisky or a restaurant. This because in the month or so between our eating there and this post, Hansol Noodle has closed. I’m going to post the review anyway, if only because I’d already resized, uploaded and captioned all the photographs. This will remain as a monument to yet another casualty of the Koreatown dining scene, where no amount of shine will keep open a place that doesn’t deliver on its food.  Continue reading

Oo-Kook (Los Angeles, December 2017)


As I’ve said in reports from previous trips, we don’t really plan Korean meals in L.A. We’re based in Koreatown when there and when the missus’ extended family decides to get together to go out to eat it’s usually to a Korean place, and always one of their choice. This lunch was actually supposed to be dim sum at Sea Harbour. I’d been trying to get a group >8 together so we could make a reservation and it backfired on me. We ended up being a group of 10 but mostly elders and they rebelled and said, why go to the San Gabriel Valley to eat Chinese food when we can go eat galbi-tang right here in Koreatown? If I’ve learned anything in 48 years, I’ve learned to not argue with large numbers of your partner’s older relatives with whom you don’t have a language in common. And so it was that we ended up at Oo-Kook.  Continue reading

Ham Ji Park (Los Angeles)

Ham Ji Park: Gamjatang
I have two more London restaurant write-ups yet to come but I also have two restaurant meals from our trip to Los Angeles in July that I’ve planned to get to for a while. Here, therefore, is one of those: a quick lunch at Ham Ji Park on 6th Street in Koreatown.

Ham Ji Park has been around since they opened their first location on Pico in Arlington Heights in the late 1980s early 1990s. This 6th Street location is the second to open. As this one is in Koreatown proper, and much closer to our usual base of operations in L.A, we’ve never actually been to the original and so I can’t really compare the two—I’m told this location is more than a little shinier than the original. I can tell you though that if you eat here you will be happy. Continue reading

Koreatown Trio (Los Angeles, Winter 2014/2015)

Keungama: Doganitang
We eat a lot of Korean food when we’re in Los Angeles, though you might not be able to tell from my meal reports. This is because my wife’s family are Korean and so we tend to eat a lot of it at her mother’s home (where we put up) and at the homes of relatives we visit, and often also as unplanned dinners coming home from grocery shopping etc. (Korean restaurants are great for our boys who will eat their weight in galbi and rice and bone broths). If you like Korean food you really need to go to LA. Koreatown, which is one of the most intense immigrant enclaves anywhere in North America, probably has the best Korean food outside South Korea. I’ve been a little remiss in posting about posting about these meals in my last couple of series of Los Angeles restaurant write-ups and so here are three at once from our trip to LA in late December/early January. Continue reading

Koreatown and Elsewhere (Los Angeles, July/August 2014)

jongolI noted earlier that our recent trip to Los Angeles was unusual in that we ate a number of Thai meals and none of them was at Jitlada. It was also a bit unusual in that we didn’t eat out in Koreatown very much. My wife is Korean and most of her extended family lives in Koreatown and that’s where we’re based when in L.A. In general, we tend to eat other cuisines at lunch and do Korean restaurant meals at dinner, both because being close at hand they’re easier with the boys and because we’re usually accompanied by some extended family members or the other. My wife’s family are first generation immigrants—she was 10 when they arrived in the US—and many of her older relatives don’t speak any English and are generally not interested in eating anything other than Korean food. As such, it is usually a given that we will eat a bunch of Korean meals out and so I don’t plan them specifically. On this occasion, however, my wife and the kids had been in LA for a month previous and had already done most of the extended family meet and greets, and it turned out that we did the rest mostly at people’s homes. So there was almost no Koreatown eating out for us. Continue reading

Noodle Soup and Dumplings (Los Angeles, Summer 2013)

Line outside outlet #1In the last decade or so, Shanghainese Xiao Long Bao, known in English as “soup dumplings” (though that’s not the translation), and usually found on menus as “juicy dumplings”, have become rather popular among American foodies. In Los Angeles the restaurant that was and is at the center of this cult is Din Tai Fung in Arcadia. This branch of a renowned Taiwanese dumpling house (which now has franchises all over Asia) opened in 2000 (or thereabouts) and came to mainstream attention via a LA Times article in 2002. Since then it has been showing up consistently on seemingly everyone’s “Best of LA” lists (including at #44 on Jonathan Gold’s recent list of the 101 best restaurants in LA). Continue reading