LA Weekly

Source: LA Weekly, August 8, 2012


K-Town by K-Town: A Jokbal Platter + Seoul Train + Partying in Rounds

Coverage of the delicious side of Koreatown has expanded past the well-tread over the years. We've learned about chic naengmyon (kudzu noodles in chilled beef broth) andgamjatang (pork neck soup). If we want Korean-style barbecue, we can distinguish places by cuts of meat and quality of banchan. Even as our Korean food vocabulary has sharpened, the grammar that helps us form dishes into meals and rituals is still a work in progress. Enter the reality YouTube show K-Town, an unexpected source for a basic -- if not rough -- tutorial on one aspect of Koreatown dining.

Chatter of K-Town, an unapologetic Asian American rendition of Jersey Shore, began in 2010. Rumors mixed among facts: R&B singer Tyrese Gibson is the executive producer; it was slated to air on a cable network; and it was about to drop any minute. Angry Asian Mankept tabs on when (and where) the show would premiere, while critics debated the merits and failures to both community and pop culture at-large. SNL even made a spoof. All this until it was apparent that K-Town was experiencing distributive difficulties.
This July the show was finally available for view, albeit online, after a deal with Ben Silverman's Electus came through. Changes however big (cast member Jennifer Field seemingly swapped for Cammy Chung) or imperceptible may not register as much as that of Koreatown -- the unspoken and far better explored character of the show -- and its party subculture. It is one as much defined by food as it is by drink and each 12-15 minute episode has shown thus far its extent.
Highlights & Lessons:
  • The party tetralogy. Hinted in the 2012 installment on the best of Koreatown eats, going out can come in stages. In K-Town, it goes up to four with cha connoting rounds and each numeral prefix representing its order: Il-cha (happy hour), ee-cha (food and drink),sam-cha (pre-game), and sa-cha (main party or what some cast members would call "sexy time"). Over the course of three episodes, the group dutifully performs the ritual, beginning at Beer Belly at which co-owner Jimmy Han briefly enters the frame when he delivers beer from Violet's secret stash stowed at the pub. The rest of the rounds take place at Palm Tree L.A., an all-in-one hub with restaurant (Arang), bar (A Bar), noraebang, and S Bar (club).
  • jokbal.jpg
    LOUD Channel via YouTube
    Jokbal at Arang

  • Meet jokbal. A fortifying platter of jokbal, or braised pork feet and shank, is ordered at Arang during ee-cha or the second round. Jokbal is served sliced and traditionally eaten in lettuce wraps topped with fermented soy paste and slices of fresh jalapeno and garlic. For the uninitiated, it is less exotic when considering this cut has been explored in French, Italian, and Chinese cuisines. The local standard has been set by Jangchung-Dong Wong Jokbal on Western.
  • Cammy pouring Apollo 13.jpg
    LOUD Channel via YouTube
    Cast member and bartender Cammy setting up "Apollo 13."

  • Thirsty games. We learn about "Apollo 13" and "Seoul Train," both variations of chugging down a combo of soju plus beer (usually Hite). At A Bar, Steve introduces everyone to his friend Cammy who happens to be the bartender there. She sets up a "Seoul Train" a.k.a. a line of soju bombs then explains the layered soju-beer competition of "Apollo 13." Joe breaks down the mechanics of a "Seoul Train" in his vlog entry.
  • Seoul Train at Gaam.jpg
    LOUD Channel via YouTube
    A "Seoul Train" at Gaam

  • Noraebang. When the cast partake in "Seoul Train" at Gaam during the fourth episode, we catch a glimpse of the possibilities available at a noraebang. Introduced to most of us as karaoke, noraebang is the Korean version, designed for maximum staying time in private singing rooms with full food and drink menus. It is not unlikely for the noraebang to supply a cha or two.
  • Purple Wine Bar.jpg
    LOUD Channel via YouTube
    Purple Wine Bar

  • How not to be classy at a wine bar. Scarlet invites Jowe, the unverified and frequently self-touted "Prince of K-Town," to Purple Wine Bar for a confrontation with Violet's ex-boyfriend, following her sense of girl code. The clink of wine glasses is less salut and more boxing bell when Scarlet starts in on Jowe and a flurry of faulty, at times crass, syllogisms is exchanged.
  • Ladies lunching at Yellow House.jpg
    LOUD Channel via YouTube
    Catching up at Yellow House Café

  • More than coffee at a Korean café. Violet, Scarlet, and Jasmine hit Yellow House Café for the kind of post-night recap and analysis popularized on Sex and the City over caffeine and kimchee fried rice. Scarlet discovers the courtesy buzzer seen on the tables at most Korean restaurants and proceeds to ring it multiple times for cheap laughs. The only valuable takeaway from this segment is that Korean cafés can be good for great meals,sweet potato lattés, and elaborate desserts.

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