Monday, September 05, 2005


Many Koreatown pleasures are centred on the one-dish restaurant, and even the more sophistimicated barbeque emporia feature copious quantities of grilled meat at the heart of one's meal. Thus Yongsusan [950 S. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90005 (213) 388-3042] is a most unusual Korean restaurant, serving a "Royal Kaesong" banquet style in which individual dishes are brought to one's table; the focus is on smaller portions of great delicacy and multiple course set menus. My friends and I tried the $28 set menu, which proved to be outstanding value:

Pumpkin porridge
. Possibly the gluiest thing I've eaten all year, but with a sweet and rich pumpkin flavour. I finished every drop.
Mung bean jelly. A sesame oil-rich preparation of jelly strips.
Bean sprouts. With a chilli touch and even apricot slivers.
Jellyfish. Served with shredded cucumber, halved shrimp and the preserved eggs called peih dan in Cantonese. This trio of cold dishes were very good, a nice way to begin a large and filling banquet.
Steamed pork. Awesome fatty pork cut, cooked very simply.
Grilled sea scallops. On a skewer with mushroom and broccoli. This was perfectly grilled, just browned outside but still moist. Delectable.
Bosam kimchi. Something of a house specialty, this is a whole small cabbage head stuffed and pickled with the addition of Asian pears, onions and other things. I loved it, particularly with the thrill of discovering unusual things inside.
Beef stew. With radish and carrot, this was meltingly soft with a pure intensely beefy flavour. A great dish superior to the best niku jaga I have had in Japanese restaurants.
Anchovy, seaweed, radish panchan
Soup with rice balls. A really nice clear broth with small rice balls, deceptively delicious and a suitable plain dish to finish a meal of great extravagance.
Ginger and cinnamon soup with ginger cookie. A soup that might have been painfully sweet if not for it's powerful blast of ginger and spice. Ginger cookie is many-layered and crunchy, surprisingly delicious (where can I buy these?) and definitely not an afterthought - waitress pointed out that it is good for one's digestion.

I've waited a long time to try Yongsusan, and it was truly exceptional. I don't know of any restaurant to compare in LA, and unlike Umenohana it doesn't show any signs of closing soon. For this price the attentive service, beautifully presented food and refined flavours are worth a try for any kind of celebration, however minor.

P.S. Yong Su San is literally Dragon Water Mountain, the latter two surprisingly similar to Cantonese.
P.P.S. During our meal we enjoyed the spectacle of some amazing balloon decorations being assembled for festivities later that night. $250 buys two palm trees, several monkeys, and multiple fish/octopi for some lucky child. Happy Birthday Andrew!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ten of us from OC went to Yongsusan for dinner tonight with prearranged menu at $43.95 plus tax and tip of another $10/head. The food served did not exactly match the menu and a paper-thin Sashimi piece spreaded to pinky tip size for each person, served on heaped up shredded radish reminded us "flea-liver-robbery" expression. Green bean cake which is supposed be the main attraction was not served. Barbecued boneless beef rib served was equivant of 2 normal pieces at most restaurants for all 10 of us. It is possible that they ran out of food, but that is not the way to rob customers for their greed. It may have had its glorious days at one time as Yonsusan, but we do not recommend this place any more to anyone. There are plenty of good restaurants around in LA. Don't waste your money just for curiosity.

3:00 AM  

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