This was my first Korean seafood grill experience in the U.S. and it very much reminded me of the seafood grill restaurants in South Korea. Even though the ingredients might not be as fresh and as diverse as one would find in South Korea, I was still very much satisfied with this seafood lovers meal.
Jae Bu Do is a small, hole-in-the-wall type of place where the Korean menu with the different types of combos are listed on the walls. I did not see an English version of this anywhere, so if you have any questions you should definitely ask. Or, just take your Korean-reading friend with you!
After you tell the waitress which combo you would like the banchan comes out, kimchi to cheese corn. I liked the cheese corn with bell peppers in it. It wasn't the best cheese corn I've had, but it was good enough! The kimchi looked deceivingly spicy but was on the sweet side.
pahjeon (Korean scallion pancake)
The pahjeon was crispy and thin, just like how mama makes it. It was your simple scallion pancake with no frills and it was delicious.
The salty broth of the clam soup was a great precursor to the loads of clams, mussels and oysters to come. Having a definite ocean-y taste, I immediately pictured myself eating this at a restaurant by the shore in Busan, Korea on a rainy day. How dramatic... I guess it's the Korean in me.
I think there is a special connection between this dish and Korean females.... I say this because a lot of my Korean-American girlfriends really love this dish, myself included. The egg-jeem at Jae Bu Do had nice consistency and it was perfectly seasoned. Nothing ruins an egg-jeem like having too much water or not enough seasoning.
assorted seafood platter
Before the grilling began, we were given gloves to wear on our dominant hand since we will be taking the goods right off the grill. Even with gloves, I still managed to burned myself... The clams were the first to go and they cook extremely fast. You should take them off the grill as soon as they pop open or else you'll be eating overdone rubbery messes the entire time.
The shrimp were the last ones on the grill and the hardest to eat. Trying to peel piping hot shrimp with one bare hand and another, nestled in a working man's glove, is quite the challenge. But after all the work, the end result is a quite satisfying one.
The cuttlefish was the last item to hit the grill. After it's grilled for a couple of minutes, it is cut into bite size pieces. The perfectly cooked cuttlefish was tender and went great with gochujang.
In usual Korean grill food fashion, the end of the meal is not the end until they break out the rice or the noodles. In this case, it was the noodles - kal gooksoo, to be exact. Kal gooksoo is handmade, knife-cut noodles served with different vegetables. It is usually served plain so you can add your own condiments to your liking. The serving portion, as you can see above, was quite large and our party of 4 could not finish this. But don't let the massive bowl scare you! The broth, by itself without the condiments, was so flavorful and delicious; it was one of the better kal gooksoos I've had in Koreatown. I forgot to mention that before this over-sized bowl of noodle goodness was put on the grill, the waitress put our dessert, sweet potatoes wrapped in foil, under the grill with the charcoal to cook. This is done so that by the time you finish your noodles, the sweet potatoes are cooked and ready to be enjoyed. I love how they wrap it in foil so that you can literally take these to-go and eat them in your car.
Jae Bu Do definitely exceeded my expectations, in terms of quality and quantity of food. While the seafood wasn't the freshest nor the best, it more than satisfied my seafood fix. The hole-in-the-wall atmosphere added to the whole experience of dining here - It took me back to the couple of weeks I spent in South Korea a few years ago. If you are looking for a new dinner spot in Koreatown and do not want to succumb to the many, many Korean BBQ restaurnts, I recommend coming here and knocking back a few sojus while grilling some clams.
Jae Bu Do
474 N WesternLos Angeles, CA 90004