It takes me a few minutes of wandering to find Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo in Los Angeles. It’s buried at the back of a Koreatown strip mall containing some 10 businesses, not all with English subtitles. The name on the sign is also somewhat different than advertised: Hhang Ari Noodle House.
What should be the real giveaway is the line outside the door. Normally, waiting and I don’t mix. But I’ve got time to kill, a shady seat out of the oppressive L.A. heat and a willingness to try Korean dishes that aren’t barbecue or bulgogi.
The nice thing about most Korean restaurants is you don’t have to order appetizers; they automatically come with the mains, which in my case is a massive lunch for less than $10. At Hangari, er Hhang Ari, four or five little bowls appear just after I sit down. I can’t tell you what they are other than marinated, astringent and crunchy. Good, mind you.
I’m halfway through this small meal when my order of Manilla clam kalguksu arrives. It’s a steaming bathtub of goodies: a delicate broth, loads of little clams, surprising crescents of squash and a few slices of cooked potatoes emerging from the tangled depths.
But the real star here is a boatload of long, engorged, chewy noodles, fashioned and hand cut by the woman who owns the place but never leaves the kitchen while I’m there. Even when I finally ignore all else, I can’t finish this bounty of fabulous noodles.
Hangari Bajirak Kalgooksoo (I think that’s the name)
3470 West 6 Street, Suite 9, Los Angeles
Daily 10:30 am-10:30 pm