Frugal Find of the Week: Jun Won

If you’ve every traveled to Korea, you may be familiar with the mind-boggling premium put on restaurant space. Square footage is equally coveted here in Koreatown, where eateries no more than five tables deep are stuffed in the back of utility halls or multi-layered parking garages. Jun Won, however, capitalizes on such claustrophobia by managing to create a cozy, old-world nook out of what would otherwise barely pass as a one-room apartment. It helps that the service is generous too; sides of banchan arrive within minutes, numerous enough to outweigh most entrées. Sure, the miniaturized vegetable pajeon, the egg-y discs of breaded squash, and the colorful array of various kimchi are all superb, but most tables are eager for the arrival of Jun Won’s specialty, fish casserole. The term casserole doesn’t quite do justice, as eundaegu-jorim, a name that means “black cod simmered in a thick soup or sauce” has little in common with the tuna noodle variant perfected by midwestern grandmothers. The platter arrives swimming in a crimson liquid stewed for hours, slightly sweet but tempered by enough gochujang heat to clear the sinuses. Filets of buttery white fish and massive oblong slices of braised radish are buried underneath. Bones are carefully removed; the radish is pulled apart by chopsticks; the thick sauce is spooned over bowls of rice. All this is repeated until only an empty plate remains. A watery bowl of porridge, jook, arrives soon after. It is very difficult to leave a traditional Korean meal without feeling a bit like Joey Chestnut post-Fourth of July, even while on a budget. The true challenge, though, might be finding Jun Won in the first place. A small yellow sign adorned with Korean characters and the solitary phrase “Korean Restaurant” in English is all the notice that is given.

Jun Won
3100 W 8th St #101
Los Angeles, CA 90005