Bulgogi, marinated beef in corn tortillas, a rustic-style pancake “bursting” with seafood and lots of kimchi and barbecue were on the menu when food aficionado Barbara Hansen recently set out on a Korean restaurant odyssey.
The journey encompassed lunch at 40 sites in six weeks for the recently released 2013 Korean Restaurant Guide: Los Angeles.
“They have such excellent use of vegetables,” Hansen says of the region’s chefs and cooks. “The flavors are so rich and varied.”
In spite of eating out seven days a week, sampling multiple side dishes and plenty of sizzling beef, “I felt great,” she said, adding it was a testament to the cuisine’s health benefits.
A favorite of hers is fried rice with kim chi leftover thrown on the grill as a final course, she explains.
A longtime fan of Mexican and Asian cuisine, “I have a split personality, I love these other cultures and cuisines. We are so lucky here in L.A.”
The longtime Orange Dr. resident shops all over, from farmers markets to Han Kook Supermarket on Western Ave., where the produce is always fresh, because the Koreans eat so many vegetables, she says.
She keeps a carton of Gochujang, a red pepper paste, on hand in the kitchen to spice up dishes, and adds Hong Cho, pomegranate flavored vinegar, to her drinking water.
In writing the book, she traveled from Marina Del Rey to Pasadena, and, of course, restaurants, bars and counters throughout Koreatown.
She ate like an emperor at one site on Vermont Ave., where she was served by waitresses in traditional costume.
A translator joined her on the epicurean journey.
“It was written to appeal to non-Koreans, many of whom hesitate to eat in Korean restaurants, because they don’t know what to order, or whether they will be understood,” she says.
The former L.A. Times food critic, who now writes for LA Weekly, was hired by Korean Food International.
The 202-page, pictorial guide is the latest in a worldwide publishing endeavor to shed light on Korean cuisine.
Hard copies are not for sale but free apps can be downloaded on Android and iOS devises, including the iPhone.
To read more about Barbara Hanson’s adventures in food, wines and travels, visit tableconversation.com.