By Kevin Leap and Steven Persitza
Dining CriticsWe thought we had to travel to Kearny Mesa for great Korean food. That is until we found Little Korea, conveniently located right here in our own neck of the woods.
It was around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday and the place was dead quiet. Not always the best sign considering everything else on the street was buzzing. The dining room is incredibly austere, almost as if they hadn’t quite finished decorating yet. All of us glanced at each other thinking we had inadvertently walked through an unlocked door into a project not quite completed. That fear was allayed when a charming young lady of Korean descent greeted us and lead us to a table.
The place is tiny, seating not more than 35 in the dining room and maybe 20 more on the patio. Virtually bare white walls, black tables, chairs and a sparse place setting are all she wrote. The view is of the bustle on Prospect and you’ll need to snag a table on the patio for an ocean sliver.
All of that said this place is spectacular. As the tables around us filled, we were almost the only non-Asian diners - a great sign of an authentic meal to come. Some of our group can drink Tabasco right out of the bottle, and some break into a sweat at the sight of a tomato. Whichever category you fall into, the menu is clearly marked with little red chili peppers for those who like to walk on the wild side. The libations include several authentic Korean wines that are a bit unusual and not sure we’d go there again. The rice, plum and dark raspberry wines reminded our Jewish friend of the Mogen David frequently found at his holiday table. Skip that unless you are up for sweet, syrupy drinks and order from their reasonably priced wines by the glass.
The food, the food, the food! All is served on large square trays with a bounty of vegetables, rice and your main course. The native Kimchi is delicious, not overly piquant and you must try the seafood pancake from the appetizer menu. Distinctive and magically delicious. Don’t miss the grilled barbecued short ribs or the traditional Bibimbob (a vegetarian dish, but you can add meat). Everything ordered was fabulous.
Dozens of special little touches came to light during the meal, from the brass chopsticks and bowls to the individual vessels for each vegetable or dish. The service was delightful and everything was timed flawlessly. Prices are not cheap, but not wallet-busting either with entrees averaging less than $15. They also serve lunch and have lots of great daily offerings.
- 8008 Girard Ave. Suite 210, La Jolla
- (858) 551-0282
The good: Go for the food and the service. Both are excellent.
The bad: The place is a little stark. It could use a few more design elements.