Flaming Clam Grill of Cheongdamdong: Sizzling Tabletop Korean Seafood [CLOSED]

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Korean Food Los Angeles

Flaming Clam Grill of Cheongdamdong honors a Seoul neighborhood with abundant sea creatures.

If somebody casts a net into an aquarium, their catch would probably look similar to what you’d find on the tabletop grills at Flaming Clam Grill of Cheongdamdong. The casual Koreatown restaurant absolutely bombards diners with waves of crustaceans and mollusks, including shrimp, oysters, conch, giant clams, scallops and mussels. Flaming Clam is truly a pescatarian’s dream, named for Cheongdamdong, “a posh Seoul suburb nicknamed the Korean Beverly Hills and known for designer boutiques and art galleries,” a description from Linda Burum’s review in the LA Times, a review that alerted me to the restaurant’s existence.

Flaming Clam Grill of Cheongdamdong’s menu is entirely in Korean and touts photos of the limited options. You’ll find small bites like eel fillet and seafood soup, but most people fill tables in large groups to split mountainous seafood platters, which are available in small ($39.99), medium ($59.99) and large ($99.99) sizes. A medium platter feeds four, with no problem.

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Instead of typical banchan, Flaming Clam’s feast starts with edamame, raw carrot and cucumber, and hard-boiled quail eggs.

Jook is a Korean variation on congee – rice porridge – with soaked grains studded with chewy abalone bits. We each received a small salad with an aggressive citrus dressing.

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The barrage continued with starchy tempura potato wedges, a crisp-edged green onion pancake and creamy corn “chowder” presented on a foil-wrapped scallop shell strewn with shrimp bits.

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A soup arrived bobbing with soy-based imitation fish cake braids, cylinders and balls, all submerged in a light scallion studded broth.

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At first, it was unclear what was in the aluminum foil baking tin when our waitress slid it onto the tabletop grill. Eventually, it became clear that we were looking at Dukbokki, beaded rice cakes that became supple as they absorbed the chile paste and mozzarella cheese. The molten mass also hosted enoki mushrooms, calamari strips and tiny mussels.

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Our waiter lifted the lid on a pot to reveal soufflé-like egg studded with scallions.

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The show-stopping moment was when our waitress brought a heaping seafood platter to our table, with varieties served in their shell, on the half shell or foil-wrapped. She and a waiter subsequently loaded our tabletop grill with various seafood as space became available.

Since the sea scallops and giant clams were so massive, our waitress used scissors to cut them into bite-sized portions. Oversized half-shells served as cooking vessels, with briny juice acting as the only cooking liquid. Scallops were sweet and tender, and giant clams offered surprisingly little resistance.

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Our waitress pulled conch from the grill and plucked meat from each spiral-shaped cavity using tongs. Scissor cuts of conch meat were yellow outside, with chewy, clam-like texture.

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Throughout the course of the meal, open-faced clams arrived in several shapes and sizes. Mid-sized clams cooked in their own brine and remained fairly tender.

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Earlier in the meal, in a clever move, our waitress poured briny pink clam juice from the shell onto steamed white rice topped with nori – dried seaweed sheets. Later, she mixed the ingredients, reloaded back into the shell and placed back on the grill to create inventive fried rice.

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Massive oysters wrapped in foil so juice wouldn’t drain after shells popped on the grill. This was an interesting attention to detail. These particular oysters contained a little too much grey matter for my enjoyment, but they were tender.

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Simple shell-on shrimp were one highlight, wrapped in foil and finished on the grill until they became blistered and smoky. They were good on their own, and even better when dipped in chile paste. Of course the shrimp were also blazing hot to touch.

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We finished mild and mellow with a steaming bowl of knife-cut noodles in a light broth with thin-shaved zucchini, onions and sweet, tiny clams.

Kimchi Los Angeles

For some strange reason, it took until meal’s end to finally receive kimchi. It was unusually pungent, tasting like it fermented for years.

Flaming Clam Grill of Cheongdamdong offered a unique dining experience. It’s hard to imagine how they can charge so little for so much seafood, but at no point during the meal did I question the integrity of the shellfish. They must move high volume. Considering how unique the restaurant is, they should.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

[…] it makes any foreign English teachers feel better, a bunch of ethnic Korean teachers were busted …Food GPS Flaming Clam Grill of Cheongdamdong – Los Angeles …… markets near the coast (I had some at Busan and Seoraksan), where everything is grilled over hot […]

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This post was mentioned on Twitter by hotcupofdana: Hey George Lucas! I found the new Indy title: Indiana Jones and the Flaming Clam Grill of Cheongdamdong. @foodgps review http://su.pr/32PxxO

I want to eat with you. This looks awesome!

Jo, Flaming Clam Grill was very good, and full of surprises (of course not anymore). I’d be up for a return trip in the future, though I kind of feel like once you’ve eaten there once, you more or less know what it’s about.

Just a few names for you: the abalone jook is called “jun bok jook”, the pancake is called “bin dae dduk” and is commonly made with ground mung bean, the fish cake soup is called “oh deng”, the steamed egg is called “geh ran chim”, or literally steamed egg. Not necessary, but just clarifications.

In Korea you can get all this stuff fresh at the seafood markets near the coast (I had some at Busan and Seoraksan), where everything is grilled over hot coals. You sit around on buckets drinking soju and beer. It’s awesome.

Matt, it’s good to know the Korean names. Thanks for chiming in. I bet it would be even more fun to sit around hot coals drinking beer on the Korean coast.

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