You’re Dan Fine Sun

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KOREATOWN, LOS ANGELES– It may be hard to believe, but many people are beginning to think that food from Los Angeles’ Koreatown may be better than the food from Korea itself. Sun Nong Dan is a renowned specialist in seolleongtang, a delicate broth made from boiled down beef bones for hours, even days, until the liquid turns a shimmering, pearlescent white.

The soup menu offered is much larger than that of an average seollangtang specialist, with the option of getting the standard version with or without fat (if you like your soup lighter) and brisket.  Or, you can get the mixed bowl, which is packed with brisket, beef head, and ox knee. If you’re into intestines or tripe, you’ll probably want to stick to other places, because you won’t get any of that here.

If you go at night at the end of the week, either on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, it is more than likely that you’ll have to wait in line with the rest of the hungry diners, sometimes 2+ hours, if you’re unlucky.

Although the popular dining destinations offer a multitude of other dishes, by far, their most popular dish is the galbi jjim.

To make sure they’re recognized as one of the best new places in K-Town, Sun Nong Dan has created their own take on galbi jjim, a braised Korean short ribs dish that often makes me wonder why anybody would bother eating grilled kalbi.

The galbi jjim will arrive at the table hissing and sputtering in a heavy stone pot about the size of a spare tire, with a mountain of meat and vegetables rising out of a red broth, with a billow of steam rising into the air.

Something that sets Sun Nong Dan apart from their competitors is their choice to add in rice cakes. The rice cakes will sit below the big chunks of meat and soak up all of the delicious broth. Their galbi jjim comes with rice cakes, unlike many other places. Oh, and did I mention that they’ll do either the regular sweet version of the stew or the spicy version?  

Once you add the rice and kimchi, it’s a meal that could easily be shared by two, maybe even three depending on how hungry you and your friends are. Keep in mind that galbi jjim is never cheap, and Sun Nong Dan is no exception.  Their “small” size will run you $45 or $55 for a large, but the small size can easily be eaten by two people with leftovers to take home.

If you have ordered it with cheese, which is an excellent decision on your part, I applaud you- you’ll get to watch as the waiter scoops a big handful of white cheese over the top and broils it with a torch right at your table, until the cheese breaks down into an melt-y, stream of of cheese.

Overall, I would give the spot a 5/5. It has some of the best service I’ve ever experienced at any restaurant, a wide variety of dishes for any pallet, and an amazing atmosphere that makes for a memorable night out with excellent food.

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