Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ondal 2 - Los Angeles, CA

Pete was in town and I was excited when she told me she wanted to check out this Korean crab stew place while she was here. She had heard that they mix some sort of rice in the crab shell and give it to you. What!?!? How come I never heard of this place before? I've been so out of the LA Korean food scene that I have no clue what's good anymore.

So Monday night, we met up for dinner. When Pete texted me the address and I google mapped it, I realized it was way south and west of what is typically Koreatown. I had no clue there were Korean restaurants in that neighborhood and almost questioned what in the world a Korean restaurant was doing there in the first place. Around 6:30 pm, the area looked almost deserted. All the stores in that area had closed for the night and there weren't that many people around. I almost missed the restaurant on my first drive through the area. If you blink, you will surely miss it. The sign is definitely helpful. It is basically the only thing that is lit in that part of the neighborhood.

The restaurant itself is very clean quite spacious. I was surprised to walk in and see so many other Korean people south and west of Koreatown. What were you doing out here is what I wanted to ask them. hahaha. But there were several large parties here that night so clearly we weren't the only ones treking out here for some crab stew.

Pete initially thought about ordering the large crab stew but the waitress suggested ordering the medium if we were going to get soo jae bi (a Korean pasta/soup dish) and fried rice afterwards. It's a good thing she ordered the medium because it was sooo much food for three of us, granted we were girls, so who knows, maybe three guys could polish this off.

They start with a good array of banchan or side dishes for you to nibble on. They even brought out a Korean pancake for us that was fresh from the fry pan. Then they brought out this huge casserole dish with three big crabs on top. I don't know what kind of crabs these were, they looked bigger than blue crab, but smaller than dungeness crab.
The waiter got to work. He worked furiously with those tongs and scissors and started cutting the crab into pieces.
Crabs, scissors and tongs were flying in the air and none of us managed to get splashed by all this action. Here's a picture of the flying crab leg.
OK, j/k. But really it seemed like that. He was definitely in the zone with those tongs and scissors. He kept on going back and forth between the stew and an empty bowl and I kept on trying to take a picture but he was moving too fast! After he was done cutting up the crab legs, he took the three crab shells and started to divide up the stuffing that was in one of them. The waiter explained that it was a dumpling of crab meat, roe and innards stuffed in the shell. It looked like ground beef though, which was odd. He divided the dumpling in between the three shells and then added a bit of rice and some broth to the mixture and placed each shell on our plates.
He then put some beansprouts on top and ladled on some soup.
It was really good. It was spicy and full of flavor and I loved the fact that it had tons of beansprouts in it. Eating crab is always messy so I joked that we probably shouldn't bring anyone here for our first date. Luckily they give you a bib and a crab fork to pick out the meat, so it's a bit more manageable. It's hard work getting out those morsels, but it's well worth it.

I think at some point, they also brought out a grilled pike fish for us. They definitely don't skimp on service, which is great!

After we made a significant dent to the stew, the waitress came by and poured in more broth and some zucchini. She then had a piece of dough that she tore by hand and put into the stew. We let it simmer for a bit and then ate the soo jae bi.
We were about to explode at this point, but the meal wasn't over. They took out all of the soo jae bi and put it in a separate bowl and added some rice, seaweed, kimchi and bean powder and made fried rice for us. No matter how full one is, there is a tiny, tiny area of your stomach that is reserved for kimchi fried rice and for such occasions. So we tapped into that area of our stomach and ate most of the fried rice. It was tasty. We would have preferred it had it gotten more crispy but they turned off the heat before that could happen. They brought out dongchimi kimchi for you to eat with this, which was really good. It helped tone down the spiciness.
At the end of the meal, they gave us rice punch, which was really good too. They had excellent service overall. I would definitely come back again. It was just a nice change from the usual Korean BBQ and it is a hearty meal to eat especially with the weather getting colder in California, finally!

We asked the waiter if there were multiple Ondal's since we were at Ondal 2. He said that there was another one in LA and one in Garden Grove. It originally started out within the same family, but different family members branched out with the different locations. He said that the menu was slightly different at each place too. Pete's friend who introduced us to this place, specifically told us to go to Ondal 2, so we just followed her advice. I can't speak for the other places since I've never been, but I'm curious to see what's different about them. I'll let you guys know if I hear any more info. Till then, enjoy Ondal 2, it will not disappoint.

Ondal 2
4566 W Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016


  1. omg this looks amazing. i need to make a trip to LA to try this out!!


  2. how much was it?


  3. Mary - yeah this one had only crab in it, but they had other types of stews that were mostly seafood but they had kalbi-tang and stuff like that too.

    Julie - I'll take you next time you are in town. For three of us, with tax and tip it was around $75. I think it would have been perfect for four people, so the price isn't bad.