My friend Kimchee is a really interesting guy. A Korean orphan, he was adopted at a very young age by a Caucasian family in the mid-West and had a traditional American upbringing complete with sock hops, football, and mom's apple pie. By every measure except the most superficial, he's a good ol' corn fed farm boy.
(Kimchee in front of Green House.)
However, he never stopped being curious about his roots. Like many other acculturated Asian-Americans, Kimchee began seeking connections with his ethnic heritage. His Korean identity has been painstakingly earned, the result of a lifelong exploration of the food, language, and customs of his ancestral homeland. Each experience reveals a little more about a place he's never known and a people he continues to discover.
(Green House's absolutely amazing kimchi.)
Kimchee's enthusiasm for all things Korean, and his former life as a restaurant chef, makes him the perfect guide for my Korean food adventures. Any question I can think of, he's already asked and has an answer to. His finely-tuned tongue has never led me astray. Where he goes, my gluttonous self is only too happy to follow.
One of his latest finds specializes in home-style Korean dishes seldom found in any of the more popular tabletop grill establishments. A mom & pop eatery of the finest kind, Green House occupies a claustrophobic storefront in the middle of Gardena's surprising treasure trove of tasty ethnic restaurants. The space is tiny, barely large enough to seat a dozen people, with just enough room for Mom to work the front and Pop to cook up a storm in the back.
There's a comforting feel to the little diner, with its mirrored walls and pokey furniture. The menu is simple, a few rice and noodle dishes printed on laminated paper and taped up near the register. However, each item is a surefire hit. I'm constantly amazed at the quality of the food they serve, and at their low prices.
To get your taste buds going, start off with a steaming order of Green House's Ttuk Pok Ki. The stew of rice cakes, fish cake, and vegetables in a fiery sauce made with gochujang (sweet and spicy fermented bean paste) is a favorite at Korean festivals.
Follow it up with Kim Bap, a "sushi" roll of sautéed greens, pickled vegetables, sweet omelet, and fish cake. Soothing and crunchy, it reminds me of the Futomaki my grandmother made me when I was a child.
The rice dishes at Green House are awesome. A favorite amongst the regulars is the Kim Chi Fried Rice topped with a fried egg "over easy". Cooking brings out the gentle sweetness of the pickled cabbage. Once punctured, the gooey yolk coats the savory rice kernels like a rich, golden sauce. Many of the Korean diners split it as a side dish.
The Squid Fried Rice is another popular dish, although I think the English name on the menu is a mis-translation. In this case, the rice is a fluffy, sticky mix of white rice and red beans paired with a stir-fry of squid and vegetables in gochujang.
For the more terrestrially inclined, the Spicy Pork Rice is essentially the same dish. The thinly sliced pork is caramelized to a crispy, fiery crunch, yet remains deliciously tender under its candied shell.
Noodle lovers shouldn't feel neglected. Dishes like the classic Jjol Myun are *the* reason to visit Green House. The spaghetti-like noodles, tossed in a pungent blend of hot mustard, vinegar, and gochujang, are served with shredded leafy greens and a hard boiled egg, a combination that somehow works. The mix of nose-searing pasta and crunchy veggies is both refreshing and shockingly addictive.
For something warmer and more gentle, the Anchovy Kal Guk Soo is perfect winter fare. Handmade wheat noodles swim in a thick starch soup seasoned with dried anchovies. Unlike the salty monstrosities found at the local pizzeria, the "anchovies" used for seafood stocks in Asian cooking are much more delicate, with a mellow flavor and a rich aroma. There are no actual fish in this dish. Instead, their essence permeates the savory broth. Thinly sliced gourds add a soothing sweetness and contrasting texture to the chewy noodles.
Green House also serves udon and "ra-men". While the ramen seems to be the instant kind from packages, the eatery kicks it up with some nice add-ons. Their Seafood Ra-men is practically brimming over with sea critters and fish cake, and has an excellent flavor.
The Ttuk Ra-men is great for people who can't make up their minds. It's a tasty way to get both noodles and rice cake in one bowl. Given the portions, Green House's ramen is well worth the price.
Green House - Simple, homey Korean fare at unbeatable prices. Kimchee sure knows how to pick 'em.
Kim Bap - 5.54
Ttuk Pok Ki - 6.47
Kim Chi Fried Rice - 6.47
Squid Fried Rice - 6.99
Spicy Pork Rice - 6.99
Jjol Myun - 6.99
Anchovy Kal Guk Soo - 6.47
Seafood Ra-men - 6.99
Ttuk Ra-men - 5.54
1412 W. Redondo Beach Blvd.
Gardena, CA 90247