|Dan Sung Sa|
Now, two o'clock in the afternoon, the bar was shuttered, and the drunk sat, a 40 ounce in a crumpled bag on the pavement beside him, yelling at passersby.
"Hey, mister! You're a writer, huh?" he shouted when he saw us crossing the lot. "I can tell by looking at you, you're a writer."
"You nailed it, brother," [The Man I Love] replied. "You got me."
We quickly skirted the corner and headed west on 6th Street, taking in a whiff from the garbage dumpster behind Dan Sung Sa as the street dipped gently down.
Elaborate cast iron grillwork and over-the-top Churrigueresque rococco embellishments of another era hold their own with the flashy colorful graphics of hangul script and images that jar and flash everywhere you look in Koreatown.
It was built as a market, with produce, meat and baked goods sold to the affluent people who lived in nearby apartment buildings.The neighborhood was tony, with high-end hotels like the Ambassador nearby, and the popular Brown Derby restaurant.
Today it's in the heart of Koreatown. Still thriving, the Chapman Market is now home to karaoke bars and nightclubs, a hookah cafe, fashion and cosmetic boutiques, and one of Koreatown's most popular restaurants, Kang Hodong Baekjeong, a raucous, smoky outpost of a barbecue joint owned by a South Korean celebrity wrestler.
|The grill lit|
|Pork belly on the grill|
Although I've been to other Korean barbecue places, the panchan here included things I wasn't familiar with - a bowl of cloudy water with bits of cabbage and radish floating. A metal bowl with some fine white powder. A greenish rice pancake. A wedge of orange kabocha squash strewn with pumpkin seeds, nuts and raisins.
|Squash with nuts and raisins|
A battered cauldron of bubbling red broth came to the table; kimchee and tofu and chunks of meat sizzling and spitting a rich, sour broth stained with chile.
Thick chunks of pork went on the sizzling grill, and big slices of mushroom and eggplant. Periodically a waitress or waiter came by to flip the meat with tongs and scissor it into smaller chunks. The rendered fat dripped off the domed grill into the compartments where the cheese melted over the corn and the eggs slowly congealed in gentle curds.
As each chunk of meat cooked, we could tong it off the grill and wrap it in lettuce or dunk it in the sauce and eat with rice. The waitress poured a dollop of golden sesame oil into the dish of white powder - salt - and suggested we dunk the pork belly in that, too.
|Pork short ribs|