In search for some healthful Korean food--soups and porridge--I found out about Jook Hyang, a standalone Korean restaurant on Olympic in Koreatown.
An abalone, chicken soup, beef bone soup (cooked for a week), porridge specialist, Jook Hyang offers a wide range of offerings dedicated to the three items--abalone sashimi, abalone porridge, abalone and chicken soup, and a page full of different porridge items. Walking into the restaurant, you'll see an abalone tank and bucketfuls of cornish hens.
All these quality items and work spans throughout the restaurant and offerings, which also includes bamboo rice entrees, korean barbeque and seafood, banchan, and other items. It also translates into slightly higher costs--lunch is slightly cheaper if you order the sets, but otherwise, expect to spend around 15-20 USD per person, if not more.
Part of the higher prices at Jook Hyang are the quality banchan items that one receives. During our first visit, we already got eight items (sweetened marinated daikon, green onions and onions in soy sauce, cucumber kimchi, napa cabbage kimchi, japchae, daikon kimchi, chilled tofu and broccoli, and wakame seaweed with gochujang) , a soft korean pancake, and individual servings of water kimchi.
What's more, during the meal, more banchan items may be presented. Our first visit, we got an additional dish of sweetened, marinated potatoes. We especially enjoyed the potatoes, pancakes, broccoli, and wakame seaweed, although all of them were excellent in general.
In our second visit, we were presented with even more items, this time with perilla leaf kimchi, sauteed zucchini, daikon radish leaf kimchi, and sesame sauced celery amongst some of the additional items presented. Moreover, we received a velvety egg omelet and soybean sprouts later in the meal.
Jook Hyang's beef bone soup is simmered over the course of a week, and a taste of the soup immediately reveals that. It is extremely creamy, and leaves a oily feeling in one's mouth. Unseasoned, the side saucer of pepper and salt enabled us to season the soup as much or as little as desired. As it was served, our friendly server cut up the beef (not cooked for as long as the soup) into bite sized pieces; they went well with the spicy green onion soy sauce that also came along with the dish. The collagen heavy pieces of beef were very gelatinous, smooth, and meaty.
(first: chicken porridge, second: abalone porridge)
Jook Hyang's porridges are quite simple. Starting off with a base of short grain white rice and barley tea, requested items are then added to the porridge (chicken, abalone, vegetables, et cetera) and then the porridge is topped with toasted sesame seeds and seaweed strips. They're a bit bland by themselves, and thus a side dish of cubed soy sauce marinated beef is provided for one to season the porridge as desired.
Jook Hyang's wakame seaweed and abalone soup was another soothing dish. Piled with lots of seaweed, some abalone slices, and a few glutinous rice bowls, it was a simple, hot broth that was very enjoyable on a cold day.
The Grilled Fish Bamboo Rice Combo came with not only some pleasantly grilled fish-- tender in the middle and crisp on the exterior--but also grilled pieces of tofu, a sweet dried marinated fish, a vegetable pancake, and most specially, the bamboo rice, which had a mix of different grains and vegetables.
Haemul Pajeon (seafood pancake) was likewise enjoyable. Instead of being full of batter, Jook Hyang's version focused on the other ingredients--lots of shrimp, squid, octopus, green onions and carrots were in the batter. Dipped in the savory soy sauce, it was a tasty treat.
Our favorite item that we've had here so far though is the Eundaegu Jorim (cod fish with daikon radish simmered in a seasoned soy sauce), a large platter of cod fish, stewed radish, sliced onions, and long, chewy, rice cake cylinders all cooked in a spicy, red pepper flake flecked soy sauce. It's just a great mix of ingredients--soft, tender, juicy pieces of cod fish (with bone), juicy and sweet daikon radish, bright onions, and extremely chewy rice cakes--that go great alone as well as with rice. As a large and expensive entree, it's best split amongst multiple people.
Go to Jook Hyang for a focus on healthy eating, quality ingredients, and homestyle cooking.
Jook Hyang (Healthy Zone 52)
3177 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Tel: (213) 383-5252