After slinging Korean-inspired sausage on the streets of LA and winning season 3 of "The Great Food Truck Race" (and $50,000, to boot), Seoul Sausage founders Chris Oh, Ted Kim and Yong Kim have opened a brick-and-mortar outpost in the Little Osaka/Sawtelle area of LA.
The freshly-opened shop, which sits next to Blockheads Shavery on Mississippi Avenue, still feels a bit naked but has all the necessary elements to get grubbing: food and counter space to eat.
When Justin and I arrived at Seoul Sausage around 7:30PM on a Saturday night, we learned the the hard way that arriving early is key. They were already sold out of a few items and, as we learned while chatting with the staff, have been selling out every night. In fact, for Seoul Sausage's grand opening, the team prepped enough food for several days but sold out in a matter of hours. LA is serious about its sausage, I suppose.
Seoul Sausage keeps things short 'n sweet with its menu-- two types of sausages, three rice balls and two specials. Chef Chris shared that he plans to experiment with special sausages and rice balls (keep an eye out for a Thanksgiving-themed sausage in the near future) but that the core menu would remain focused on a few items.
After shaking my fists over my poutine-less future and the "Coming Soon" note affixed to the Spam Musubi rice ball, Justin and I placed our order and snagged some counter space with a view of the grilling action.
We first dug into the Galbi Sausage ($7.00), made with Korean-style short ribs--the KBBQ staple--and topped with kimchi relish and garlic jalapeno aioli. The hearty sausage delivered exactly the distinct galbi flavor I craved, and the flavorful toppings deliciously accented and rounded out each bite.
While it was the galbi sausage that drew me to Seoul Sausage, it was the Spicy Pork Sausage ($7.00) that won my heart. Each snappy bite provided such pure, spicy, porky goodness that it was hard to believe that I was eating a sausage and not seated around a smoking grill in Koreatown. The apple cabbage slaw added a dash of unexpected sweetness that took the dish from good to awesome.
We also ordered a L'il Osaka rice ball ($3.00), a tasty, crunchy homage to Japanese curry, which nailed the hearty flavors of the dish that inspired it.
After Chef Chris heard that this Hawaiian girl was desperate to try the still in-the-works Spam Musubi rice ball, he generously offered to whip me up a taste.
For their Spam Musubi ball, Seoul Sausage combines rice, macaroni, corn, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, nori, sesame seeds, and Japanese mayo, fries the rice ball and then tops it with a lime Tabasco ketchup. The ball cleverly combined many ingredients of a traditional Hawaiian plate lunch (right down to the macaroni), and the amped up ketchup added a delightful heat. When Chris came back around to ask how it was, I had only one recommendation: more Spam!
And so, he made me another rice ball with MOAR SPAM (yes, I love Spam so much that it makes me go into meme-speak). With the additional Spam, each bite proved more savory and salty and, ultimately, even more satisfying. In short, was ono.
Even while sold out of dishes we wanted, Seoul Sausage delivered the goods both in terms of the food and incredibly friendly service. The shop serves up authentic taste in unique, interesting incarnations but doesn't rely on the novelty of their dishes for success. Rather, it feels like they're breathing new life into familar flavors while maintaining the heart and soul of the dish.
Next time, though, I'm getting my poutine...
11313 Mississippi Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90025