When I first moved to Los Angeles from Hawai'i, I was surprised to learn that much of the Korean food here was a trendy, cook-it-yourself-and-pay-an-exorbitant-amount-of-money-to do-so kind of thing.
Although I had eaten at these sorts of restaurants back home, I am far more accustomed and partial to Korean restaurants where the dishes are prepared for you and are accompanied by 4-5 complimentary side dishes such as potato salad and kimchi--all for around $10 per person. Simple, effort-free and cheap. Was this asking so much?!
Finally, a friend recommended that I try Nak Won.
Located in an unassuming strip mall in Koreatown, Nak Won is open 24 hours a day and serves up tasty, traditional Korean dishes at reasonable prices.
Behold: the side dishes. These dishes include kimchi, bean sprouts and potato salad and are perfect for snacking before your entree arrives. Don't worry if you gobble them all up; Nak Won's friendly waitresses will gladly refill your little bowls.
My friend Jen ordered the Dak Dori Tang ($13.99), a dish for which chicken is marinated in hot pepper sauce with vegetables and then simmered in a soup. The chicken had a nice spicy kick, but the bones in each piece of chicken necessitated abandoning our fork and knife in favor of our hands, which left our hands and fingers red. The taste, however, was worth the mess.
J ordered his usual--the kalbi. ($12.99). Whereas some restaurants give only four or five pieces per order, Nak Won piles its platter high with hot, juicy shortribs. Nak Won's kalbi is second only to that of Ohana BBQ in my book.
I ordered the bulgogi ($10.99), which is served with white and green onions that play nicely off the tender meat. Although the beef's flavor is just good--not great--it is difficult to argue with the price and amount of food you get (I usually end up getting two meals out of Nak Won's bulgogi).
So, if you like Korean food but don't like getting up off your butt, driving to a restaurant and then paying to cook your own food, I recommend Nak Won.
Nak Won Korean Restaurant
1001 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90006