Dan Sung Sa (Korean Bar Food in L.A.’s K-Town)

The biggest challenge was finding the place. The address was 3317 W. 6th Street and we were meeting our friends Kyle and Gary there at 7:30. We drove down 6th, using my phone as a guide, and didn’t see 3317. We parked on the street and saw a sign for a hotel featuring Korean dramas on the TV, but no 3317. Then, entering a shopping center, we saw a valet parking attendant and asked him if he knew where we could find Dan Sung Sa. He pointed at the building right in front of him: there it was, in Korean, no English translation.


Inside, the place was dark, smoky (I saw two people smoking cigarettes at the bar) and mysterious. This woman grilled meat for an audience of regulars:


We found our friends Gary and Kyle in the back and they’d already done the appropriate thing and ordered beer.


On the table you’ll find kimchi and another spicy sauce which we snacked on while drinking beers of our own:


At this point, I asked the waitress for some water and it came in a kettle and when Craig poured it out into our water glasses, it was brown. In this picture, you can see Craig contemplating the brown water and Gary tasting his:


Luckily, the women sitting next to us, who were Korean, chimed in to tell us this wasn’t dirty water but flavored water (flavored, perhaps, with barley? But don’t quote me on that.)

While most people associate Korean food with BBQ, Dan Sung Sa is known for its bar food. I would define bar food as food that tastes good with alcohol. So, indeed, this giant fried pancake–filled with scallions and other goodies–makes the beer go down easier:


And this chicken dish, which was outrageously spicy–fried pieces of chicken coated in a glaze made up of honey and hellfire–can only be consumed with beer. Water won’t cut it. (And that coleslaw, topped with gloppy Thousand Island dressing, should probably be skipped entirely.)


This cheesy corn is exactly what it sounds like: corn positively coated in butter and cheese and then baked until crusty brown around the edges.


(The women sitting next to us recommended it to us, which is why we ordered it. Also, when I really think about it, I think it’s possible that the corn wasn’t coated in butter, but MAYONNAISE.)

Kyle, a vegetarian, ordered this tasty dish of tofu that came topped with a sweet and savory combination of nori, scallions and sesame seeds:


But our favorite dish of the night, no question, was this dish of rice noodles:


Long chewy tubes of compacted rice get soaked in a fiery broth tempered with green scallions and sesame seeds. This was a triumph of texture, flavor and heat—and we all gobbled this up greedily.

After dinner, we decided to track down some Pot Bing Su: a dessert of shaved ice, ice cream, whipped cream, beans and fruit. We had luck across the street at a place called Koffea:


Here’s our Pot Bing Su, which did not disappoint:


As with most great desserts, this works best when you get a little of everything on your spoon at once: some shaved ice, some ice cream, some whipped cream, some sweet beans, and some fruit (to quote Jaws: “We’re going to need a bigger spoon.”)

Consider this just our first trip to L.A.’s K-town: it’s actually not a far ride at all from our apartment, just straight down from the hills into the city proper. Next up: Park’s BBQ.

Let's dish!

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