Bossam is one of my favorite Korean dishes. I don’t get to eat it often, so it’s always a special occasion when I do get it.

Bossam consists of tucking pork belly and usually a thin slice of sweet pickled radish or even kim chi into a lettuce leaf or a thin sheet of rice cake, and then dipping it in either sesame oil with salt and pepper or doenjang, fermented soybean paste (my personal prefernce).

One of my earliest memories having bossam was in Seoul—after a long night of carousing about town. A bunch of us got hungry at the end of the night (not to mention we needed something in our bellies to soak up the alcohol), and we ended up at a late-night bossam joint. We dined semi-al fresco under a tent setup while an elderly woman shuffled plates of pork belly and its accoutrements back and forth between our table and the kitchen. It was silent except for the smacking of our lips as we devotedly devoured the bossam.

I’ve also had the dish at Mister Bossam in L.A., and though the bossam itself was good, their pork chops with melted cheese over top kind of ruined the experience for me. (What is it with Koreans and melting cheese over everything?)

And of course, the bossam at Kobawoo is excellent. I was first introduced to Kobawoo by a friend whom I’d met on the set of “MasterChef” when I was a contestant and he a production assistant. He is a Korean living in Koreatown, L.A., so naturally, I turn to him for Korean food suggestions. Kobawoo gets pretty busy (we’ve waited over an hour for a dinner table before), but this time, when I met up friends for Saturday lunch, our party of six adults and two tots were pretty much seated immediately.

The bossam delivers a perfectly balanced punch of umami from the fatty pork; a sweet crunch from the pickled radish slice; fresh crispness from the lettuce; and even more umami from the doenjang dipping sauce.

We supplemented our main course with additional appetizers like the seafood pancake (one of my other favorite Korean dishes) and chigae, a spicy Korean stew good for washing down the unctuous pork belly. Don’t forget that most Korean meals come with a “gratuitous” helping of various side items like cucumber salad, fish cake, potatoes, kim chi, spicy pickled radish, mung bean salad, and so on—it’s restaurant’s choice, and I put quotations around “gratuitous” because while it’s free and you can ask for seconds or thirds, the price of these cheap side items are already built into the cost of your meal.
Everyone ate to their hearts’ content, and we rolled outta there with our bellies full of belly. I highly recommend Kobawoo House for bossam.

Kobawoo House
698 S. Vermont Ave. (At 7th St.)
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Ph: +1 213 389-7300

Kobawoo House seafood pancake

Get the crispy seafood pancake to share.

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