What's your snack of choice when you're cruising the city late at night? Do you like wrapping your lips around the obscene, incestuous porcine coupling that is the Bacon-Wrapped Hot Dog? Are you lured to the kaleidoscopic glitter of roasted meat served up at the many taco stands that dot La La Land? Maybe you're the kinky type, seeking out flavor-packed abominations that aren't completely one thing or another, only to find yourself crying in a shower the next morning. No, it never washes off. But, if you're like me, you'll find yourself obsessively checking Twitter again later that day.
Still, I usually like my after dark street food encounters like I like my women; sweet and almost too hot to handle. Near downtown Los Angeles that can mean only one thing. Hotteok, the Korean version of crispy fried napalm with a nutty finish. Luckily, I can always get my fix in front of Kaju Market on the corner of 5th and Western.
Cooked to order on a flat griddle, each one of these candy coated pancakes is filled with a tooth-melting mixture of sugar, honey, nuts, and spices. Give the nice man your order and he'll slap them into a container straight from the stove. The smell coming off each golden disk is maddening, promising pain and pleasure with every bite. With a melting point of 365°F, the molten syrup nestled in each crunchy and chewy cake is hot enough to raise blisters. It's a delicate balancing act. Bite down too soon and the filling will explode into your mouth like lava from an erupting volcano, with much the same result. But, wait too long and the hotteok will lose their crispy candy coating to airborne moisture. It's a battle of wills between your mind and your stomach.
Kaju Market Hotteok Stand - The mind always loses. Hurts, but it's worth it. Time to find another drink. Something with ice.
Hotteok - 1.50/each
Ambience: (N/A for street food)
Kaju Market Hotteok Stand
450 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90020