I must admit: I’ve always played it safe with Korean food. When I arrived at Kang Nam all I knew from Yelp reviews was that this was a traditional spot where Korean adults could enjoy a good old school Korean meal. So, I jumped into this culinary adventure by asking our lovely waitress Jang for a little guidance, “What’s popular here?”
We started with appetizers before we got into entrees and grill-worthy meats. Jang recommended Gogi Japchae (No. 11), which consisted of stir-fried noodles seasoned with sesame oil, onion, and garnished with vegetables and beef strips. My companion chose Ojingeu Bokkeum (No. 13), a saucy stir-fried squid with vegetables.
Soon after ordering, the little saucers began to arrive. Just the sides alone began filling the table. Apparently every Korean meal can include anywhere from 5 to 12 side dishes, or banchan. Part of the adventure required tasting all the colorful items that I generally overlooked during my previous Korean barbeques. Kimchi? Not the spicy, tangy flavor I expected. It reminded me a bit of curtido, a pickled cabbage served with Salvadoran pupusas. Some of my favorite surprises included the subtly salty seaweed, the sweet and crunchy apple salad, the green “pancakes,” and sautéed broccoli. Others will be filed under the experimental once-is-enough archive, such as the anchovy and peanut combo, the pickled radish, and the bean sprouts.
The Gogi Japchae had savory written all over it. The ribbons of veggies added crunch and color to the darkened glass noodles, the sesame seeds gave it a tasty and visual touch and the beef strips were tender. All combined, these ingredients were the beginning of the end. I devoured a couple of healthy servings of the saucy noodles, so good that I almost forgot about the Ojingeu Bokkeum, which was a feast for the eyes. Beautifully presented, the squid was fried in a vibrant red sauce and accompanied by contrasting green scallions and sesame seeds as well. Not a fan of the consistency of squid, I only tasted a couple of pieces and enjoyed the sauce’s rich flavor. However my companion expected more kick in the sauce which tasted mild even to a heat-averse person like me.
Halfway into the hefty-sized meal, I asked our waitress Jang for honest advice, “What do you think? Should we continue and order meat to grill or an entrée to share?” Jang made a cute face as if that was a silly question, said that was too much food, and took our menu away. She was right, we were stuffed before we finished our appetizers.
Our Editor enjoys going for lunch and having the large salad bowl filled with mixed lettuce, a variety of crunchy vegetables and sashimi for $12. She always finishes with a bowl of green tea ice cream. She claims the sushi dinners are generous and filled with sweet and tender sushi.
Prices range from $10 - $30 averaging around $16.
4103 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019(323) 937-1070
Established in August of 2008 by writer, artist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.