fear not, I did not single handedly attempt to (and more importantly was not successful at) wiping out 50% of la’s food blogging community in one evening. 😛
(the blowfish dinner was actually the least “dangerous” part of the evening haha details later…)
It started in november when I first read jonathan gold’s absolutely amazing review on dae bok restaurant that got me intrigued about trying korean style “bok” (blowfish). dangerous? maybe. delicious? sounds most definitely.
fast foward to febuary’s gold standard event where matthew and I got a golden opportunity to chat it up with this grand gourmand
just as grand to speak with in person. so I had to inquire about this restaurant once again. sure enough, even in person he waxed poetically about this amazing and underrated restaurant in the seedier part of koreatown. my favorite and most comedic part of the conversation was how he described (as in his review),
“So after you persuade the waitress that what you really want is blowfish instead of monkfish, after you have pronounced the words bok jiri a half-dozen times to the best of your ability, puffed out your cheeks, and pointed to the line drawing of the blowfish printed on the chopstick wrapper, you may actually be rewarded with the blowfish stew”
haha poor jonathan but I must commend him on so many levels for being so adventurous to say the least in trying these ethnic restaurants off the beaten trail.
ok, no more wasting time, I wanted to set up a dinner here STAT. invites were emailed within days and come saturday, march 21st, 17 fearless eaters (9 of which were food bloggers, matthew of mattatouille, josh of food gps, fiona of gourmet pigs, eddie of deep end dining, mike of rightwaytoeat, javier of teenage glutster, rickmond of rameniac, danny of kungfoodpanda and yours truly) arrived at dae bok restaurant, ready for some blowfish lovin’. 3 tables with 3 bloggers at each (totally not planned when setting up seat placement), we had the bases (and cameras) covered.
lots of hungry people waiting for the fury. I must say I expected at most about 8 people to be interested in trying this korean blowfish restaurant (which I would have been more than happy with), but was more than pleasantly surprised and thrilled with the amazing turnout of people who were also excited to try this place.
now onto the menu… there’s 10 (yes, count ’em TEN) ways this sucker is served. blowfish 10 ways:
mehwoontang (spicy fish stew) $14.99
jiri (non-spicy fish stew) $14.99
soo-yook (steamed fish w/ soybean sprouts) $17.99
jjim (spicy, stirfried with sprouts, etc) $21.99
bulgogi (bok bbq) $17.99
tempura w/ sweet potato $17.99
tangsooyuk (fried sweet and sour bok) $18.99
fish skin w/ spicy sauce/vegetable (cold salad) $16.99
shabu shabu $34.99
WOW. ok but with each table being about 6 people, we consulted with the waitresses and 2 servings of the stew plus 1 or 2 dishes more would be plenty for each table. most popular being the stew and the jjim, each table got these plus one more somethin’ somethin’
first up, banchan
not too shabby. the standout was definitely the gummy blowfish skin moochim (kinda like salad) tossed with a vinegarette and a korean herb, minari (refreshing and love the bite of the minari). the rest, u’ve got ur run of the mill kimchi, mook (think korean jello), marinated cold seaweed, potato in mayo (not exactly potato salad but seriously whats up with koreans so obsessed with mayo banchan??), and pickled daikon.
next, the long awaited bok- jjim
sprouty and garlicky galore. blowfish stir-fried with tons of sprouts and chili paste. this was our first taste of the actual blowfish and it was surprisingly very mild in flavor. however, with the garlic and chili paste, there was plenty of punch in this dish (our pulses still going strong)
next, our table ordered the bok-tangsuyok (think chinese style sweet and sour fish)
it was aiiiite. nothing too crazy or mind blowing here but we figured it would be a nice textual contrast. well battered and fried with a good sweet and sour sauce, this tasted just as expected.
one of the tables ordered the bok bulgogi
think blowfish barbeque. they ordered it spicy with gochujang (spicy bean paste). although I didn’t get to actually taste this dish, the consensus from that table was that it was very good. with the firm texture and mild flavor of the blowfish I could definitely see how this fish could stand up to some bbq-in’ and slatherin’ in gochujang.
now onto THE BEST part(s) of the meal, the blowfish stew.
u can order this spicy (mehwoontang) or non spicy (jiri) but when deciding on which, in the “eloquent” words of josh, “whats the point??” 😛
naturally, we opted for the spicy mehwoontang. this amazing dish has many glorious and delicious stages.
this is just the beginning…
topped with fresh minari and ready to come to a boil at the table
blowfish stew heaven. the broth is nothing short of amazing. its packed with tons of flavorful with the fish, garlic, chili paste, and freshness from the greens. WOW. the pieces of blowfish in this were eaten dipped in a soy sauce ponzu with a dab of fiery mustard. delicious.
the fun and deliciousness don’t stop here though. oh no, it just gets even better….next up, they put soojebi (shavings of dough) into the delicious broth
YUM!! perfectly al dente shavings of dough with a nice bite and slippery texture are delicious when cooked in the flavorful stew.
and everyone knows how much I love happy endings 🙂
rice, chopped vegetables and oil are added to the final ladles of soup and dregs left in the pot. when all mixed together and left to cook until there’s a little bit of crispiness at the bottom is the most delicious bokkum-bap (fried rice)
even when ur busting at the seams, there’s always room for bokkum-bap. just add a little bit more of the soup or some of the ponzu sauce, and this is a winning finish.
everything was washed down with a final serving of cold shikhae (korean rice drink).
sweet and refreshing. the waitresses were generous enough to constantly refill our little cups with pitchers of endless shikae. mmmm lovely.
it was an amazing meal from start to finish. thankfully, everyone still had a pulse and was happy with filled and satiated bellies 🙂
being the dutiful hostess, the fun, food, and drink did not stop here. oh no. in true korean fashion, this was just the first stop of many in this dangerously fun filled evening!
next up was scoops for more dessert (pistachio cardamon was my favorite of the night), then crazy hook for bongs (5000 cc’s to be exact) of cold beer, and then finally an epic evening of crazy singing and dance paired with carafes and carafes (and carafes) of yogurt soju at palm tree for norebang (karaoke) fun.
I am telling u now that u have not seen true karaoke until u’ve watched eddie and rickmond sing and dance (tina turner, eat ur heart out) with tambourine, disco ball, and yes, even the fog machine was working that night. hahaha 😛
(and although there was a pact and agreement of no film/video at this part of the evening, there were many violators. *cough* eddie *cough* mike *cough* fiona. sd cards must be rightfully and accordingly confiscated and destroyed :P)
the night started off with 17 and still ended with a healthy group of 9. a big THANK YOU to all those who attended and participated in this dangerously fun and memorable evening from start to finish 🙂
(and all the gorgeous pics were taken and generously furnished by mattatouille )
dae bok restaurant. 2010 james m wood bvd, los angeles, ca 90006. (213) 386-6660.