Corridor 109 started in late December 2021 inside Koreatown’s Kobawoo. The Monday-only feast from veteran fine dining chef Brian Baik was hailed as one of LA’s most exciting, and hard-to-get seafood tasting menus. Now just over a year later, Baik has landed in a more permanent destination in Chinatown inside the former Lao Tao space at Far East Plaza. He’s even up to three nights of service per week, though the restaurant still only serves eight diners at a time.
The name Corridor 109 was inspired by the former two-Michelin-starred Paris restaurant Passage 53 (whose co-founder Guillaume Guedj opened Mr. T in Hollywood last year). At Corridor 109’s previous location, diners had to enter Kobawoo, which is the strip mall’s suite 109, through a hidden side entrance. Here in Chinatown there’s no hidden door, though frosted glass windows hide the minimalist dining room inside featuring just a few tables accommodating two people each (or one table of four, and two tables of two, depending on the night).
Baik envisions this space as a test kitchen of sorts for Corridor 109, with the intention of staying here for at least a year to work out the menu and reach a greater number of people than he could have in Koreatown. Previously Baik was using the Kobawoo commissary kitchen to prepare his seasonal fish (often flown in from Japan), but this Chinatown location allows him to dedicate more time and space to breaking down ingredients in order to accommodate up to 32 diners a week.
“Right now I’m doing 90 percent of the prep myself, with a lot of fish coming from Japan and being delivered on Tuesday and Friday. I’m prepping late into the evening, so with these types of ingredients, it’s subject to the delivery schedule,” says Baik, who operates Corridor 109 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings.
The menu mostly reflects an evolution from the Kobawoo tenure, with a signature iwashi sardine toast getting a bit of smoke from charcoal to account for the fish’s fattier flesh during the winter. He replaces saba — blue mackerel — with a richer and more decadent katsuo (bonito) atop one of his more substantial plates of pesto spaghetti, while the crab consomme dish features shredded Dungeness crab. Upon presentation, dishes feature a brief explanation from Baik, who is mostly subtle about the provenance or quality of the seafood. LA diners who’ve experienced other sushi or omakase establishments would know that there’s real quality in Baik’s ingredients and presentation, as well as some luxurious flourishes from caviar and black truffle.
The Korean American chef trained at Bouley, Eleven Madison Park, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, and Sushi Noz, all in New York City, before returning to Los Angeles just before the pandemic hit in 2020. Baik brings along Ricky Hwang, a cook who’s put in time at Nomad LA, Maude, and Kinn, to help prepare the dishes. Dinner at the new Corridor 109 costs $225 before tax or tip, a mild increase from the Koreatown days.
As for his relocation to Chinatown, Baik is aware of the opportunity this space presents as a launchpad for a fuller restaurant, but also acknowledges the menu isn’t the most approachable for locals. Baik hopes at some point in the future to prepare a takeout presentation at a more casual price point, with the intention of pursuing other community outreach as he establishes himself in this neighborhood. His family’s restaurant Kobawoo has been a longtime part of Koreatown’s rich dining scene for the past 40 years, so he’s keenly aware of making a mark and hopes after this opening period he’ll put more thought into how he’ll engage with the community.
At the moment, Corridor 109 has already sold out for February but will announce new dates on Tock sometime next month for March dinners.
Corridor 109 is located at 727 N. Broadway, Unit 207, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Get updates on Instagram.