Jonathan Gold has been at the LA Times for half a decade now, mainly reviewing new, flashy restaurants as the primary part of the gig. But go back to the Goldster's earliest years as an aspiring food writer, and he was eating at small mom-and-pop, multi-cultural restaurants along LA's Pico Blvd, which spans the entire city from the ocean to Downtown.
And now, the Belly of Los Angeles has returned to his original calling: writing about the various eateries on one of LA's most notable (though not at all iconic) streets. This week, he writes about Korean specialist Ham Ji Park, which makes a fine bowl of gamjatang, or spicy pork neck stew. Dubbed the best hangover cure on a street full of hangover cures, the critic waxes poetic on the Korean dish:
The sputtering-hot soup certainly feels soothing, thick with potatoes, bathed in dusky chile heat. There are probably half a dozen other gamjatang specialists in Koreatown now, and each of them is glorious in their own way, but the density, the soft meat and the piney snap of this version always strikes me as the most pleasant — ranking above even the soup at the restaurant's uptown branch on 6th Street [LAT]
Ham Ji Park indeed has a location right in the heart of Koreatown, but this western outlet might be one of the best places for Korean food west of Crenshaw.
The review ends with a terrific salutation:
And then you stumble outside, bloated and happy, on Pico in the fierce afternoon sun.
There's a quick note at the end of the post signaling that this piece is the first in a series on Pico Blvd. What other places should Jonathan Gold review for this series? What stands out along this rather "unremarkable" metropolitan thoroughfare? One thing is for sure. The Goldster seems most comfortable, and ebullient, when he's writing about unknown strip mall eateries on the wide concrete boulevards of Los Angeles.