Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Little Korea in La Jolla

Tofu stew with an ocean view

An egg cooks within a very hot sundubu jjigae, soft tofu stew
An egg cooks within a very hot sundubu jjigae, soft tofu stew
Place

Little Korea

8008 Girard Avenue #210, San Diego

You do not find a lot of Korean restaurants west of the 5. Maybe the cuisine’s not as popular as I imagine it to be. Maybe sundubu jjigae will never be the next ramen, doomed by the less appealing translation, “soft tofu stew.” Whatever the reason, the closer you get to the ocean, the further removed you are from authentic Korean food.

Only the awning is street level.

With one exception. Little Korea can be easy to miss. The second floor restaurant is accessed through one of those narrow staircases off Prospect Street near the cove. As such, the ocean view from its dining patio could be generously termed “partial.” But it’s there. Dining alone, I had no trouble perching myself at a simple outdoor counter where I could gaze past palm trees at the bluffs of Black’s Beach in the distance.

The “Little” part of the name proves just as accurate as “Korea.” This isn’t a grand La Jolla dining destination, just a cozy, low key restaurant offering traditional dishes such as bibimbap, bulgogi, and sundubu jjigae, or tofu soup as it’s called on this menu. Aside from the high rents and ocean nearby, this place could hold down a Convoy Street address.

Most of the menu stays under ten bucks, offering several protein options topping its variety of stews and rice dishes. I couldn’t resist the $17 dinner combo that allowed me to try both the sundubu jjigae and hot stone bibimbap.

Self-serve banchan bar
Bibimbap with a partial view

It’s a pretty cheap setup, especially given the neighborhood. One way this place makes it work is a self-service banchan bar. The small bar doesn’t offer some of my favorite Korean side dishes, but the kimchi and pickled vegetables are tasty enough if you don’t overdo it.

The pork dumpling tofu stew came first, the stone bowl too hot to touch. A whole egg came with it, which I promptly cracked into the red broth so it could poach while the stew cooled to a remotely edible temperature. The bulgogi bibimbap bowl also sizzled, the rice topped by fresh greens, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, mushrooms, mung bean sprouts, and scrambled egg.

I got into that one first, the savory sweet beef of the bulgogi brought the most to the experience, as the vegetables were only lightly seasoned, if at all. I’m accustomed to adding quite a bit of hot sauce every time I order bibimbap. I like this dish for the healthy dose of veggies it brings, and the tofu or kimchi versions are a nutritious lunch for vegetarians, but it’s not exactly bursting with flavor.

The tofu stew ramped it up a bit. The broth tasted of smoked chili, and while the tofu wasn’t as soft as I hoped, it held that flavor well. On its own I’d call it fairly good. However, once the pork dumplings got involved, the combination elevated my response to “more, please.” As with the bibimbap, the choice of protein will determine how well this one goes over. But it might take something more than tofu and veggies to wring the most enjoyment out of that broth.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Luna Bay Booch's San Diego origin story

Woman owned hard kombucha brand brewed elsewhere, now sold locally
An egg cooks within a very hot sundubu jjigae, soft tofu stew
An egg cooks within a very hot sundubu jjigae, soft tofu stew
Place

Little Korea

8008 Girard Avenue #210, San Diego

You do not find a lot of Korean restaurants west of the 5. Maybe the cuisine’s not as popular as I imagine it to be. Maybe sundubu jjigae will never be the next ramen, doomed by the less appealing translation, “soft tofu stew.” Whatever the reason, the closer you get to the ocean, the further removed you are from authentic Korean food.

Only the awning is street level.

With one exception. Little Korea can be easy to miss. The second floor restaurant is accessed through one of those narrow staircases off Prospect Street near the cove. As such, the ocean view from its dining patio could be generously termed “partial.” But it’s there. Dining alone, I had no trouble perching myself at a simple outdoor counter where I could gaze past palm trees at the bluffs of Black’s Beach in the distance.

The “Little” part of the name proves just as accurate as “Korea.” This isn’t a grand La Jolla dining destination, just a cozy, low key restaurant offering traditional dishes such as bibimbap, bulgogi, and sundubu jjigae, or tofu soup as it’s called on this menu. Aside from the high rents and ocean nearby, this place could hold down a Convoy Street address.

Most of the menu stays under ten bucks, offering several protein options topping its variety of stews and rice dishes. I couldn’t resist the $17 dinner combo that allowed me to try both the sundubu jjigae and hot stone bibimbap.

Self-serve banchan bar
Bibimbap with a partial view

It’s a pretty cheap setup, especially given the neighborhood. One way this place makes it work is a self-service banchan bar. The small bar doesn’t offer some of my favorite Korean side dishes, but the kimchi and pickled vegetables are tasty enough if you don’t overdo it.

The pork dumpling tofu stew came first, the stone bowl too hot to touch. A whole egg came with it, which I promptly cracked into the red broth so it could poach while the stew cooled to a remotely edible temperature. The bulgogi bibimbap bowl also sizzled, the rice topped by fresh greens, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, mushrooms, mung bean sprouts, and scrambled egg.

I got into that one first, the savory sweet beef of the bulgogi brought the most to the experience, as the vegetables were only lightly seasoned, if at all. I’m accustomed to adding quite a bit of hot sauce every time I order bibimbap. I like this dish for the healthy dose of veggies it brings, and the tofu or kimchi versions are a nutritious lunch for vegetarians, but it’s not exactly bursting with flavor.

The tofu stew ramped it up a bit. The broth tasted of smoked chili, and while the tofu wasn’t as soft as I hoped, it held that flavor well. On its own I’d call it fairly good. However, once the pork dumplings got involved, the combination elevated my response to “more, please.” As with the bibimbap, the choice of protein will determine how well this one goes over. But it might take something more than tofu and veggies to wring the most enjoyment out of that broth.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Is Midway the new Soccer City?

Fresh chapter unfolds in San Diego's well-lobbied Sports Arena muddle
Next Article

John Harris: editor of one of the first English dictionaries

Known as a man of science as a man of faith
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close