FOH/BOH³: The Fixers (Zadi, Haskell & Park) Debuts at LaOn in Koreatown

LaOn Dining Room

A couple days ago, there was an announcement of an alliance formed by Farid Zadi, David Haskell & Susan Park called FOH/BOH³. Derived from Front of the House and Back of the House acronyms (“to the third power” is of no detail), the name is meant to capture the essence of their partnership – the pursuit of proper, hands-on restaurant training from the ground up.

Pyeon Chae

The trio wasted no time getting down to business as it has just been announced that they will be debuting at Jenee Park’s (also of Park’s BBQ and Don Dae Gam) LaOn (previous review) on Western this weekend. The location of their first project was secured at this newish restaurant just 3 hours after their interview with LA Weekly Squid Ink’s Amy Scattergood was finished. It’s a perfect setting for their launch, as Zadi has worked in Seoul for three years as a chef and managing partner at a restaurant. It also is expressive of David Haskell’s intense passion for Korean food.

Open Flame Abalone

Park and Zadi created a special menu of 8 dishes, dubbed “Lucky Cat”, to complement LaOn’s traditional menu. One thing’s for sure: The menu of this “limited engagement” is not to be underestimated. Nothing on the menu will be watered down, but instead will showcase the fabric of what Korean food is all about. 

“I have a lot of respect for Korean cooking. My mother in law is from Jeon-Ju, the culinary capital of South Korea,” Farid says. “This isn’t fusion or even modern Korean. We’re taking Korean ingredients, flavors and techniques and recontextualizing them while retaining the soul of Korean cuisine: the bold, stick to your guts flavors that make it so satisfying.”

Haskell will be pairing each menu item with a wine or beer, the pairing pours of which will be available for $6 each – or glass pours for $12 each. Expect this pairing experience to evolve your perceptions of and experiences in Korean food, as I can’t recall a single time I’ve had traditional Korean food with proper wine pairing. FOH/BOH³’s “front of the house” team will be on-hand to ensure top-notch service throughout both nights.

Check out the menu below:

LAON MENU (traditional tapas)

  • 편채 PYEON CHAE Beef carpaccio with onions,sesame leaf,radish sprout – 10
  • 칠절판 SEVEN WRAP Cucumber,carrot,beef,shiitake mushroom,egg with radish wrap – 7
  • ì–´ì„  FISH WRAP Steamed fish and assorted vegetables in an egg wrap – 10
  • 궁중떡볶이 TEOKBOKKI Rice cake in soy based sauce – 10
  • 갈비찜 GALBI JJIM Braised short rib – 15
  • 오징어순대 STUFFED SQUID Stuffed with tofu,beef,squid & vegetables – 10
  • 전복요리 OPEN FLAME ABALONE Lightly seasoned fresh abalone – MP
  • 잡채 JAPCHAE Clear noodle with mixed vegetables – 7

FOH/BOH³: Lucky Cat LaOn

  • Spicy chicken kochi/foie gras fat fingerlings/ garlic chips – 12
  • Crab and kimchi brik/orange and onion salad – 8
  • Thai cobb ssam – 10
  • Thai curry bacon, avocado, duck rillettes, quail egg, tomato, fried shallot, lettuce
  • Grilled oysters – 3 each
    Dashima, ponzu, serrano mignonette and gochujang vinaigrette
  • Uni and scallop chawanmushi – MP
  • ½ dozen peel ‘n’ eat grilled prawns/shiso chimichurri – MP
    Laotian curry marinated whole prawns
  • Braised beef cheeks/ slow roasted corn cheese/baby carrot/arugula quick-chi – 14
    Riff on braised kalbi

So be sure to secure your table now. This limited engagement will sell out fast! Call 323.798.4648 or email David Haskell at [email protected] (Also note that reservations go til 1 AM – perfect for you nightowls.) Reservation lines are open now.

Sat – Sun: August 27 – 28, 2011

5 PM – 1 AM

To reserve: Call 323.798.4648 or email [email protected]

LaOn
1145 S. Western Ave
Los Angeles CA 90006

Great Tapas (and BBQ) in Koreatown: LaOn

Abalone

I arrived to our 7-top reservation on account of an invitation from Josh of Food GPS, but only after first following the noise and crowd into the very popular Don Dae Gam, which was located in the same plaza. I turned to each occupied table (they all were), and when I didn’t recognize one face I went back out the door.

Sliced Daikon "Taco"

At LaOn, we were one of two parties total that dined there in the duration of our feast. As the only non-Caucasian in the party, I had also learned that before I arrived, the servers verified repeatedly that indeed, this was the restaurant at which they wanted to be, and not next door.

Don’t judge a palate by its cover…

As each cooked or uncooked dish arrived in the practically empty restaurant, it became apparent that we were one of the first to discover this little gem. The best thing about our big party was that we were able to order a lot to ensure getting a bite of everything while not leaving a scrap by the time we were finished.

Steak Tartar

With the same people behind Park’s BBQ masterminding LaOn, this surprisingly pleasant dining space – though furnished with the obligatory fans above each table – isn’t the spot to court your singularly focused meat-minded friends (often the stigma I’ve found associated with Korean food). Sure, you’ll get an on-table iron charcoal grill on which to cook your skirt steak, beef tongue and skewers (the bacon-wrapped duk, or tubular rice cakes, are a must), but you’d really be missing out if you overlooked the peewee fingerling potatoes in green pepper & green chile sauce to start, the pork/egg/shiitake/cucumber/carrot wrapped in daikon “tacos,” the rice paper-wrapped steak tartar topped with quail egg, the garlic abalone dish, the roe-uni stone pot rice … I think you get the point.

Bacon-wrapped Duk, Sausage and Onion on the Grill

With the only included banchan being pickled, thinly sliced cucumbers and more-than-decent kimchi, it’s clear that this isn’t a Korean restaurant that rests its laurels on filler. But the servers and chef/owner were more than courteous – even friendly. Now gone are the days where I had to “corner a Korean” (UCLA proved useful for this) just so I could have a go-to guy that could order for me without the awkwardness of the language barrier and risk of being taken a less-than-courageous customer. A nice surprise was a dish that we hadn’t ordered but was gratefully sent out: A kind of chapchae, but made with rice cakes, instead. I would definitely classify this as a staple and would order this next time.

The best part about it? The raw cuts are of quality while LaOn’s location and audience in Koreatown prevents the BBQ as well as the small plates from being too precious. Just make sure that in a party this big, you order 2 of most things. Proof: By the end, we were stuffed, and had only spent $34 per person including tax, just one bottle of wine and 20%+ tip (no dessert).

So go forth and visit LaOn. “Small plates” is the arguably hackneyed phenomenon these days, but this little Don Dae Gam-adjacent place in Koreatown is a stand-out gem that does it all so well. And for those cravings of the Americanized Korean tradition of BBQ – there’s more than enough to go around.

Mon – Sat: 5 PM – 1 AM
Sun: 5 PM – 11 PM

LaOn
1145 S. Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
323.373.0700