Sometimes it’s worth it to make the extra effort, even if sleep deprivation advises otherwise. On December 10, a late night Biergarten stop to help Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang celebrate his birthday led to a discussion about Koreatown. Eating Korean food is Kang’s birthright. Same goes for Biergarten owner Neil Kwon. It wasn’t long before we were batting around restaurant ideas, and their recommendations were so inspiring that my very next meal led to Western Avenue, for gam ja tang – potato soup. Mapo Jip has been open for five years, owned by Young Ja Kim.
The menu offers a couple dozen options, but Spicy Potato Soup is undoubtedly the specialty and even appears on the Korean sign. The soup costs only $5.99 between the hours of 11 AM and 4 PM, and it jumps to $8.45 from 4 PM – 11 PM, which is still a ridiculous bargain. The dish is kind of a misnomer, since there was only one potato in the bubbling cauldron. Kang said that gam ja – potato – also refers to the shape of the spine’s bone structure. The spice rubbed meat pulled easily from the vertebrae. The bowl also housed bitter greens and was topped with cuts of raw white onion, scallions, herbs and sliced jalapeno. The gritty chile flecked broth soaked up the pork’s juices to good effect. Even though it was unseasonably hot outside, the soup was still plenty satisfying.
Mapo Jip resides in a strip mall and features a rough mural of a Korean village on the wall. The painting certainly features plenty of cows, but no pigs. Is it possible that the villagers rendered them extinct in order to relieve them of their delicious necks? The proof’s in the bowl.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.
12/10/13 Update: Mapo Jip is no longer in business.