Monday 12 January 2009

In LA's Koreatown, New North Korean Restaurant to Feature Tree Bark and Crab-grass Soup

LA's Koreatown has a rising star on its Korean food scene, and its novel approach has well-established restaurants nervous about the new competition.

"Obviously, it costs next to nothing to make, so their profit margin is going to be unbelievable... hopefully business at my place will return to normal after the novelty wears off," Jung Ye-jin, a galbi chef said.

So what is the secret that has been a buzzword all across the Korean-American food community?

Authentic North Korean food.  And we mean really authentic.

Chef Kwon Heung-Su, a Korean-American whose father was an escaped North Korean refugee, has established a restaurant that won't be imitating the preparation styles and ingredients of North Korean regional specialties "That's been done so many times before -- there'd be nothing interesting about it at all."  Instead, they will be simulating the actual experience of eating in North Korea.
"The main item on our menu is an authentic pine-bark soup, seasoned with dried, inedible crab-grass.  The nutritional value of this food is actually, literally, nil, and it's bitter as hell.  Seasonings will be twelve dollars for a packet of salt, in order to simulate the way any garnishes are unreasonably expensive for most North Koreans."  Diners are warned not to order too much of this soup, as it may damage their lower intestines on the way through their digestive tracts.

Chef Kwon explains in more detail how the restaurant will work.  "If you're my friend, you might get a slice of meat with your meal, and if you vow undying loyalty to me, you might get a dumpling filled with low-quality noodles made from whichever grain is cheapest that day, and grain husks.  It is clearly explained at each table that if I do deign to bestow a side dish, a shaving of meat, or a slice of rotten fruit upon your table, diners are to weep with gratitude and thank me profusely, preferably for a propaganda cameraman who moves around the restaurant three nights a week, accompanied by an armed guard, to make sure everyone appears content and acts lucky to be found in such a socialist paradise."

If you are a foreign dignitary or a visiting restaurant critic, of course, the menu will be totally different. 

"Oh, for people whose opinion of the restaurant I think matters, according to a kind of logic I couldn't explain to you even if I wanted," Chef Kwon said, "We'll prepare an insane spread of side dishes and with massive quantities of bad quality food and tough, wiry meat, and then act as if every North Korean eats this way every day of the year; however, if they don't like the food, I make it clear that I will reduce their bodies to steaming husks with my potato-gun."

To add to the North Korean atmosphere, Chef Kwon's staff are all deathly thin.  "This is where I'm glad to be located in Los Angeles.  Here in SoCal there are always some girls starving themselves to be thin enough that they think they could make it in Hollywood: I just thought I'd tap that talent and go with an emaciated theme among the waiting staff.  It would be much harder to create such an authentic North Korean experience if we were located in the cornfed Midwest, for example, or in the South, where everyone loads up on fried foods."

The pine bark soup was, indeed, disgusting, un-filling, and quite upsetting to DokdoIsOurs' digestive system; however, for those adventurous diners who don't mind bloody stool, "Praise The Dear Leader, Praise Also the Dear Father To Us All, and Death To The Imperialist Scum And His Toadying Lapdog" might be the place for you.

"Because we're not actually IN North Korea, I've had the chance to experiment with the ingredients: for example, we actually have a California Black Oak Bark Soup that would be impossible to make in North Korea, because the tree doesn't naturally occur there.  We have a Joshua Tree Soup as well, and sometimes we season the soup with grass scorched by California's annual summer wildfires, to add a flavor some have called 'marginally less disgusting than the regular soup, but still an nutritionally worthless.'"

The restaurant is featured in numerous online restaurant guides, and can be found with Google Maps as well.  As a special feature of authenticity, every Friday, anyone who can bring in an actual North Korean food stamp eats for free.  In the highly competitive, but sometimes repetitive world of LA's Koreatown Galbi restaurants, "Praise The Dear Leader, Praise Also the Dear Father To Us All, and Death To The Imperialist Scum And His Toadying Lapdog" has something no other restaurant can claim; one might even say that "Praise The Dear Leader, Praise Also the Dear Father To Us All, and Death To The Imperialist Scum And His Toadying Lapdog" truly is the socialist paradise North Koreans have always dreamed of, right here in the City of Angels, Los Angeles.

In other Korean/American Food News: Analysts warn the the Ramen Gap between America and East-Asian countries is increasing, and may destabilize trade relations.


Mark Eaton said...


Anonymous said...

Amazing news for the Korean community

Anonymous said...

Fatman will be sure to cover this next time we go to LA . . .mmmm, bark is our favorite!

Kelsey said...

This is a riot!