>> Dongdaemun Yupdduk Olympic | Eat the World Los Angeles

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Dongdaemun Yupdduk Olympic


EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (31 January 2024) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:

On streets of Seoul or other Korean cities, a popular snack food purchased from vendors is tteokbokki, a simple dish of rice and fish cakes in a sweet and spicy chili sauce. After (or during) a night of drinking, hungry youngsters will crowd under a pojangmacha tent selling these dishes and others. In Los Angeles, nothing like this exists yet, but a couple places carry the dish, including the specialty shop Yupdduk Olympic.

The popular Korean restaurant with full name Dongdaemun Yeopgi Tteokbokki can be found listed as one of the spiciest places to eat in Seoul, an honor that should not be taken lightly as Koreans enjoy their heat. Here in Koreatown, diners are given the option of three levels of spiciness.

Since this was the first time, the table opted for yupgi combo A ($26.99, below 4 photos), which allowed for a sample of the specialty but also includes three other dishes that pair well.

Sundae (above) might sound like dessert, but comes out first and is a sausage made from cellophane noodles, a much watered down version of what this usually consists of: blood and intestines.

Skewered oden (above) is fish cake in a an oden broth. This is commonly borrowed from Japan and usually served with spicy soups purchased on the street, working somewhat as a taste bud relaxer.

An assortment fried set (sic, above) comes with a handy pair of kitchen shears. You will find within one sweet potato, one seaweed roll, one vegetable to be named later, and one piece of squid.

And the real reason to come here if you have not tried the dish already is the yupgi topokki (another version of the word tteokbokki), the heaping casserole of rice and fish cakes. This is the assorted yupgi topokki (below), which adds a boiled egg and a mess of mozzarella cheese on top of everything. On their three level scale, this was made as "spicy" (rather than mild or extremely spicy), and definitely had everyone's head sweating. The red chili pepper sauce is not all punch though, it is moderately complex and has a sweetness to it that makes you want to dip the fried pieces and sundae into it all night.

To round out the meal, the table also shared a plate of squid over rice ($10.99, below) which was unanimously enjoyed. This spicy sauce was a bit different than with the yupgi topokki, but hard to tell apart once everything was tingling.

And furthering the amount of red things on offer, the last order was the spicy pork over rice ($9.99, below) which came with spicy red sauce served in a cast iron skillet. It was tasty in a way that marinated pork is always tasty, but lacked the depth of the other dishes.

On a sandwich board in front, the restaurant also advertises ramen, and this seems to be a popular option amongst diners as it was on quite a few other tables. At $7.99 for a big bowl, it also seemed like a steal.

Overall, the restaurant is a completely unpretentious and reasonably priced place. If not for the multiple rounds of beer, the bill would have been no more than $20 per head for the feast. The chain has one other location in Koreatown, as well as in Cerritos and Diamond Bar.

3132 W. Olympic Blvd.

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