After I found out authentic Chinese dumplings are probably not for many Koreans, I was not in the mood to try any dumplings anywhere. But subconsciously I must have wanted to compensate my disappointing experience in Beijing by finding an alternative place nearby in Los Angeles. All of sudden, I suggested this place Myung Dong Kyoja for Saturday lunch to a friend of mine.
Dumplings, most of them made of pork, are not one of my favorites because of my personal eating habit grown from childhood. But often I have vegetable dumplings that can be purchased as frozen from Korean grocery markets. Getting used to cheap frozen dumplings, I don’t have a sophisticated tongue for dumplings.
But I find Myung Dong Kyoja mandu (dumpling) is just delicious! Their steamed pork dumplings have the perfect amount of every ingredient, pork, vegetable, sauce, and oil. The dumplings that I tried in Beijing from a famous restaurant that has been around over two hundred years were too greasy to me. I know that’s just a cultural difference. Koreans are used to less fatty food in general. We boil, stew or simmer rather than fry.
Myung Dong Kyoja dumplings were perfect in that sense. They are not too greasy but not too plain. It has just enough amount of fat so the taste is still abundant and it’s still healthy. Of course this can be very relative depending on people’s taste bud. A small plate for soy sauce is served for each one.
They are also famous for kalguksu (kal guksoo, kal gooksu), one of traditional Korean noodles. Literally, it means knife (kal) noodles (guksoo), indicating it’s hand-cut noodle. My friends and I ordered one serving of mandu (dumplings, 10 of them in one serving) and a bown of kal guksu.
Their kalguksoo is very good, too. The noodles are sticky enough and soft. The chicken broth is
very tasty and the vegetables in it make me think it’s very healthy as well as add delish flavors. There are at least a couple of mandu (dumplings) in kalguksoo.
I’d also like to say that one cannot miss their signature kimchi. It can be spicier and more garlicky for some people but it’s memorably tasty.
Their kong guksu (kongguksu) is another well-known dish. This cold noodle is a famous Korean summer delicacy. Its broth is cold soybean broth with some sesame seeds. Its taste is uniquely delightful and it’s very rich in protein as easily expected.
I love this dish so much, and can’t believe that I didn’t have it this summer! If you’re not familiar with it, I would recommend that you try it first when someone else orders it. I haven’t found many non-Koreans love this dish.
The restaurant is bright and big. It doesn’t have amazing interior but it definitely looks clean and slick. I noticed some of paintings don’t seem to meet people’s general expectation. For example, they have a Gustav Klimt painting instead of traditional Korean paintings. Of course, I don’t have anything against that. It was just a little unique because I expected Korean flavor in their interior.
The staff were kind to us, and generally that’s what I hear from people. They serve bowl of rice for free when asked and you can refill kimchi or noodles for kalgooku.
Myung Dong Kyoja is a very successful franchise in Korea which has been around quite long years. They are mostly famous for their kalgooso, dumplings, and authentic kimchee. Their menu is very simple. Average price for most dish is $8.