I don’t always agree with David Chang (like, the Cassell’s patty melt? Not that great in my opinion), but I’ll still pay attention to what he’s recommending. I’ve been to Spoon by H several times before he started talking about it on Instagram, but I’d always gone for waffles and iced earl grey milk tea (without boba) and mango smoothies, unaware, even, that they had a savory food menu, much less a Korean food menu.
When I’m in LA for the holidays, I go to Spoon by H with my best friend, and we order more food than maybe we should have, though that’s nothing weird for us. There’s no written Korean food menu; it’s all considered to be part of the “secret” menu; and we ask the owner what’s available tonight. She goes through the four or five dishes, recommends the pork mandu-guk, stressing that it’s really good, and I know I want to try the ddeok-kalbi, and we’re both craving pasta. There’s a seafood pasta, so we get that, too, and the kimchi fried rice, and I add on a mango smoothie because I love mangoes and they use real mangoes in their mango smoothies.
Did we order too much? I ask as we seat ourselves.
Is it too much if it’s normal for us to order too much? she says, and I shrug.
She asks about you, how we’re doing, if it’s better living on the same coast finally, and I say you’re good, we’re good, it’s much better but also kind of the same because we both work so much. She asks if I’m sad we have to spend the holidays apart, and I say I’m not really, not that much, because I’ll see you again soon and I don’t really care much for the holidays, anyway. She asks if I miss my puppy, if it’s nice to see him again, and I tell her, oh my god, so fucking much.
The food comes out one dish at a time, and we’re glad for it. The kimchi fried rice comes out first, and it’s flavorful, not too spicy, maybe a little on the oily side. The ddeok-kalbi comes out next, and it’s my first time having ddeok-kalbi, and it tastes kind of like bulgogi with that familiar sweet, soy sauce marinade, except in a grilled, meat-patty form. I like it, but my best friend thinks it’s too sweet for her — she’s not a fan of sweet meat, though, to begin with. I really like the salad that comes with the ddeok-kalbi, think it pairs well with the meat.
The seafood pasta is next, and there’s a lot of seafood in it, from crab to clams and mussels to shrimp. We like that there’s a lot of seafood, and we like the sauce — it’s a cream sauce, but it’s not too heavy — but there just aren’t enough pasta noodles. We look at each other, trying to convince the other to ask if we could maybe get more pasta or maybe some bread to dredge with the sauce, but neither of us actually does.
It doesn’t matter, anyway, because the pork mandu-guk comes out next, and the owner was right — this really is fucking good.
The soup is a thick, rich, meaty broth that somehow avoids being heavy and greasy. It’s flavorful and savory, total comfort food, and the soup has been loaded with homemade dumplings, pork, vegetables, and glass noodles. We can’t stop exclaiming how much we love it, how we’re glad we listened to the lady and got this soup, something neither of us would have ever ordered as a first choice. It’s hearty, and we’re stuffed and happy when we’re done, sweating from the heat of the soup and the energy of eating and the warmth inside the eatery.
Waffle? I ask, and she looks at me in wonder.
Aren’t you full?! We just ate all that!
I shrug. There’s always room for a waffle.
She laughs. I get up to order us a waffle with berries and Nutella, adding an iced earl grey milk tea (without boba) for myself just because.