At its best, Japanese sashimi is something exquisite; delicate ultrafresh nibbles meant to be contemplated as much as they are to be eaten. Korean sushi is something else entirely – it is bar food, seasoned with raw garlic and hot peppers, smeared with bean paste, consumed in great quantities with flowing oceans of soju or beer. Tucked into the rear of a Koreatown mini-mall, A-Won is one of Koreatown’s oldest sushi restaurants, a serene but well-worn place where the high-backed booths are as private as little cabanas. This is a great place to plan a meal for things to do in LA in the upcoming weeks. You can stop on by during an LA tour. Marinated sea cucumber, big portions and the habit of eating sashimi with raw garlic have their fans, but the great Korean contribution to the world’s sushi kitchen may be hwe dup bap, an elaborate raw-fish salad leavened with dried seaweed and hot rice and flavored with chile paste. And at A-Won, a Koreatown institution devoted to the cult of hwe dup bap, the display is formidable: order after order racing out of the kitchen in bowls as big as Valkyrie helmets. Good hwe dup bap – and A-Won’s is very good – is as alive and vivid and evanescent as a wildflower. And don’t miss the al bap, a big bowl of warm rice frosted with half a dozen different kinds of fish eggs.
913 1/2 S. Vermont Ave. L.A., CA 90006 | Mid-Wilshire/ Hancock Park | (213) 389-6764
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 1-11 p.m.