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LA

Review

Jakob Layman

Spoon By H

Written by
Jakob Layman

Even by LA strip-mall standards, Spoon By H doesn’t make much sense. You aren’t supposed to find a perfect bowl of pork belly dumpling soup at a dessert shop sandwiched between a Papa John’s and a GameStop. Order-at-the counter places that advertise shaved ice and waffles on their windows don’t typically have a secret rotating menu of Korean specialty dishes that are so good you’ll drive back the next day in rush hour to eat them.

But it takes only a few bites at Spoon By H to realize that a meal here isn’t about making sense of anything. It’s about being part of one of the most unique and exciting dining experiences in Los Angeles.

At its core, Spoon By H is a Korean dessert shop. The tiny space has about nine tables inside, and a design scheme that lands somewhere between a 4th grade art room and a paint-your-own-pottery class. There are plastic snowflakes on the windows, lights that look like hanging dandelion puffs, and a wall full of headshots of people you’ve definitely never heard of. It’s kind of adorable, actually - like you’ve entered a candy-colored parallel world, full of desserts like shaved snow and strawberry banana waffles. But at dinner, once the hot food starts coming out of the kitchen, this place turns into one of the best Korean restaurants in the city.

Jakob Layman

The desserts at Spoon By H are good (and should definitely be part of your meal) - but your focus should be on the tiny section of the menu titled “Food.” It’s there, along with the rotating daily specials they’ll tell you about at the cash register, where the real magic of Spoon By H lies.

Whether it’s the kimchi bibim guksu (spicy cold noodles) with pork belly, a salty Spam fried rice, or a spicy garae-tteok special (cylindrical rice cakes), the menu is full of rich, complex dishes. Spoon By H isn’t a particularly loud space, but we’ve never been in a restaurant where more people were talking about the food they were eating. From furiously pointing at the spicy udon noodles and exclaiming “What?!?” to loudly making plans to return for more dumpling soup, when the food tastes like it does at Spoon By H, we suppose it’s natural to want to shout. It’s the only way to make sense of it, really.

Food Rundown

Jakob Layman
Pork Belly Dumpling Soup

This is Spoon By H’s signature dish, and you really can’t come here without ordering it. Frankly, it’s a perfect bowl of soup. Giant dumplings, mung bean noodles, tteok (rice cakes), and pork belly in a rich, cloudy broth topped with fried onions. The levels of flavor going on here are insane, and yet when you eat it, it’s surprisingly simple and straightforward. We’ve been known to order this dish 3-4 times a week.

Spam Fried Rice

There are two fried rice dishes on Spoon By H’s menu (the other is kimchi), but the Spam fried rice is the one you want. The rice itself is perfectly cooked with chunks of Spam mixed in, plus a separate patty on the side. Add in the sunny-side up egg and you’ve got one of our favorite plates of fried rice in the city.

Jakob Layman
Kimchi Cold Noodle With Pork Belly

This won’t be the dish you’re talking about on the drive home, but it’s a good thing to put on the table simply to break up what will be a very soup-heavy meal. The cold janchi-guksu noodles are refreshing and slightly spicy, and the entire table will be fighting over the huge chunks of pork belly layered around the base.

Chicken And Vegetable Udon Noodle Soup

Due to the popularity of the pork belly dumpling soup, Spoon By H’s udon tends to be a bit of an afterthought. It shouldn’t be. This is an excellent, complex bowl of soup that’s different enough from the dumpling version to warrant ordering both. One tip, though: Ask to make it spicy.

Spicy Rice Cake

This is one of Spoon By H’s many rotating daily specials, but if it’s there when you are, order it. It’s basically a giant bubbling pot of garae-tteok (long, cylinder-shaped rice cakes) bathing in a chili-paste broth with glass noodles, topped with meat, vegetables, and melted cheese. It feels like the cousin of the galbi jjim served at Sun Nong Dan - and tastes almost as good.

Jakob Layman
Milk And Honey Drizzle Snow With Mango

Given the extent of Spoon By H’s dessert and toppings menu, you could come every day for five years and not try every combination. That said, you should definitely focus on the shaved snow first. And in particular, the milk and honey drizzle. It’s simple, straightforward and shows off just how well-made the shaved snow is. Get the fresh mango on top.

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