And now I have another place that’s not in Koreatown where I can get good, quality Korean.
Okay, so I kinda came here under semi-false pretenses.
Is It Any Good is after all, a one man operation. Occasionally, the one man falls a bit behind. Occasionally, the one man will…maybe write a filler review to a different location of a place he’s already visited, and change the details, and viola! New material.
Only, I can’t.
Only it ain’t.
Young Dong Gardens (as the name suggests)…is a little nicer.
And it does Bulgogi with pits at the table.
And it does the Soon Tofu that I came to eat.
So…we’re looking at a whole new review.
That’s okay, you’re worth a whole new review.
Is it wrong for me to want Soon Tofu with Kimchi and Pork the second I got off the plane? Truth of it is, I spent a lot of time over Christmas in my home state of Maryland. I discovered while there, that an old childhood haunt, Ellicot City, Maryland, home of the Enchanted Forest (a pre-school level Amusement Park) had gone, pretty much Korean in the 40 of so years since I last visited the park.
So I ate pretty dang-gone well while I was in Ellicot City, finding a Korean Grocery store with its own Korean-centric food court. Then again, I do live in Los Angeles, and good Korean food is my birthright living here.
Still, the fine folks in Ellicot City didn’t exactly splurge on the Banchan. Nor could they. These were little tiny, Food-Truck sized, Mall-sized eateries. A little Radish and some leaf Kimchi and what is it.
I needed me some good good Banchan now. I needed something close to the full on experience now that I was back in La-La land.
Oh yeah. Green Onion Omelette, Bean sprouts in Sesame Oil, Pickled Nori, Leaf Kimchi, Cucumber Kimchi. GOOD Leaf Kimchi, GREAT Cucumber Kimchi.
Now, I’m home.
Young Dong Gardens sits in a nice sized space a stone’s throw from the Santa Anita Racetrack. Given the amount of really excellent Chinese and Taiwanese you can get along Baldwin, it only makes sense that we get a little variety at Young Dong.
It’s a deceptively large space, sitting in what can only be described in an old Ski-Chalet style A-Frame (not A-Frame, but an actual architectural A-Frame) just across from Arcadia County Park. What’s going on inside can best be described as a casual affair. Families, friends, coming in for a bite of the good stuff, all while kicking back and catching a game on the–
–that is…Soccer, right?
Still, the interior is pretty nice. Date night nice, as well as bring the family nice, bring your Boss from work nice (if he or she is into Korean food). The service was really good, as in noticeably good. Fast and friendly, the kind we all like. I don’t think it’ll ever eclipse a place like Chosun, but that’s not the point is it? Come on down. It’s worth checking out.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: There’s a lot to choose from, but since I thought it was related (business-wise) to Young Dong in Rosemead, I came with a hankerin’ for Soon Tofu, and Soon Tofu (Korean Tofu Soup) is what I got, with Kimchi and Pork.
Now, you scoop that Soon Tofu over rice, so you take that small dish of rice, all the Tofu and your Banchan? That’s a meal. You’re done.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Well, for one, don’t confuse this Young Dong Gardens with the Young Dong in Rosemead. So far, they seem totally separate.
Also, weekends? They’re closed weekends.
Oh, and there is a Garden portion to Young Dong Gardens. You can eat outside.
PARKING: Not bad, and best of all, the kind of free “not bad” that I like to see in my restaurant parking. Young Dong Gardens has it’s own lot, and it’s reasonably free of stife. The only thing I couldn’t tell is if Young Dong Gardens is sharing it with it’s small-business neighbors. That could make things tight on a Saturday night. Otherwise, there is a park across the street with plenty of meters, but only in the case of a dire emergency.
Young Dong Gardens
19 West Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA 91007
Tel: (626) 698-6198
Monday-Thursday: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm, 5:00 – 9:30 pm