One of the things I love about living in LA is Koreatown. And what I love about Koreatown is that it's vast, not just in size, but in the variety of its offerings. Department stores, florists, rice cake shops, coffee houses, bars, bakeries, restaurants. And the restaurants run from the banal to the latest exports from Seoul. In between are the time capsules, like Dan Sung Sa. Stepping into this tavern is like stepping into Seoul circa 1970s.
We went last night and had a fun time drinking lots of soju (which is the main point of going to places like Dan Sung Sa) and eating things like hagfish. What's hagfish? Some sort of primitive eel like thing, I later found out. I got it because the waiter insisted it was a much better option than eel. At first, I figured he was just trying to get me to buy a much more expensive dish, but then he told me the eel comes pre prepared from the supplier and the only thing the cooks do is nuke it. Well, just the thought of nuked eel made me blanch so I said, okay, I'll try it. Yes, it was much more expensive at around $12, but wow, it was worth it. Tasted sort of like really savory, crispy pork, and it's served with perilla leaves, which you wrap around the little pieces. The perilla leaves are brilliant because they add a nice astringent, minty flavor while taking away some of the grease. Mmm! Mmm! Good!
As we left for the night, we witnessed some great comedy at the parking lot. Two groups were waiting for the valets to deliver their cars. One very drunk guy says to another guy, "Look, Sir, your car is nowhere here. Because you didn't bring a car!" The other guy patiently explains that his car isn't at the parking lot because the valets have to bring it, but no, the drunk guy is soooo sure he knows what's going on and keeps insisting, "Sir, you didn't drive your car here! I know what's going on! See! No car! Your car isn't here! Sir, let me explain this to you! Look! No car!"
Now that's atmosphere.
BTW, I noticed on places like Yelp that a lot of people are upset by the fact that people smoke cigarettes at Dan Sung Sa. Yes, it's illegal, but you have to understand what you're getting into at places like DSS and just go with the flow. Remember, you've stepped into a time capsule. If you suddenly find the opportunity of going back to the Roaring 20s and visiting a speakeasy, would you complain that they're serving liquor?
Dan Sung Sa
3317 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020