On my last romp through Koreatown up and down Vermont (filled to the brim with Beverly Soon Tofu), Rose pointed Moo Dae Po out to me and mentioned that it was one of the better Korean barbeque places in LA. That mere statement jump-started my salivary glands and kicked my anxious nerves into overdrive. The shakes. I got the shakes. I had to have a taste of some grilled meats at Moo Dae Po.
Okay, so official announcement: I fell in love at Moo Dae Po... with the kimchi. At first, it looked like any ordinary restaurant kimchi... but after one bite, I knew this kimchi was different. The gleaming red chili sauce retained a strong oyster essence. It was almost as if the oysters had just been pulled out of the kimchi jar. (Korean culinary conoisseurs tell me that the essence of oyster is a sign of authentic kimchi.) The cabbage leaves made me fall even deeper in love with the kimchi. The leaves were whole and in tact... far from being bite-sized, which means each bite of the kimchi made me feel like I was folding oceanwaves in my mouth. This kimchi was the one. It was love at first bite.
By the end of the full-fledged consumption of steamed egg, the meats and lettuce (no rice paper here!) had arrived. The server placed a garden of lettuces before us. Hidden amongst the romaine and the butter leaves were a few sesame seed leaves (shiso). Shiso is so ridiculously aromatic and fragrant. The smell of shiso casts a spell on me the same way that jasmine, lavender, or freshly brewed coffee mesmerizes others. Mmmmm...
As I began to create my lettuce wrap, I dropped a large spoonful of the fermented bean paste onto my lettuce to hold everything in place. (Has anyone noticed that Taco Bell smears a bit of refried beans on the wax paper wrapper to hold the taco in place?) The bean paste is chock full of garlic, green onions, and red chilies, and it has a strong, pungent smell. Funny how a simple, fermented soybean can create this pungent paste and oh-so-tantalizing taste.
After a plop of the bean paste, I dropped two cubes of beef onto the mat of kimchi. The beef looked like it was chillin' in a lettuce hammock. Too bad I was about to tear it apart with my teeth. Muahahaha... good food brings out the predator in me.
I was so busy building wraps and engrossed in conversing about how wonderful the kimchi was that I failed to take more pictures of the meat. Super fail. Buuutt... the Cheju pork belly is awesome; the beef tongue is tender; and the shrimp is fresh and flavorful from the olive oil marinade. And if you're up for a bit of excitement, order the baby octopus and you can watch their bodies burst when the grill gets super hot. (I recently came back with oolong-milktea and co. after a 10K race, and the bursting baby octopi were definitely a source of amusement.) Oh, but the best part? They're quite delicious too. Until next time, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.
ML - 20100608/20100427+0516