Day 7, the last day of our first LA trip, and right after experiencing my first cherimoya, David and I stopped by Myung Dong Kyoja (명동교자) for a quick lunch before heading to the airport. Unfortunately, there was a bit of wait so lunch wasn’t as quick as we had hoped, but once we were seated, we ordered quickly (deciding what to eat is easy, there’s less than ten items on the menu), and minutes later we were both staring into a bowl of hot kalguksu (칼국수; $7.99), housemade knife-cut noodle soup topped with ground chicken, carrots, onions, wood ear mushrooms, greens, and four tiny pork dumplings.
The kalguksu at Myung Dong Kyoja wasn’t fancy, it was homey and comforting as kalguksu should be. The noodles were soft but not mushy (don’t expect al dente, kalguksu never is), and the soup was light but thick from the floury noodles. If you find the soup too plain, problem solved, add a spoon or two of seasoned soy sauce full of chopped scallions and peppers (yangnyum ganjang, 양념간장) on the table. Most kalguksu restaurants provide it so you can tailor the soup to your taste. As for the dumplings, they added some variety, but not much more than that. The focus at Myung Dong Kyoja is the noodle soup, if it happens to have a few dumplings, even better.
Lots of kimchi doesn’t hurt either. At least to others who eat it also. The kimchi is super garlicky at Myung Dong (both the spicy kimchi and the white kimchi), and one bite of either will render your breath deadly. Mouthwash is available in the bathroom for this reason, but why pretend. It’s like fighting a dragon with a toothpick. Give in and enjoy (if you can). One of the waiters walking around wielding a kimchi bucket will gladly refill your plate if you ever run low.
After a week of eating out every day, it felt good to sit down to nice, simple meal. Some days you don’t want or need more than that. Nights too. Myung Dong Kyoja is conveniently open 24/7.
Myung Dong Kyoja (명동교자)
3630 Wilshire Boulevard (at S Harvard Blvd; map)
Los Angeles, CA 90010