Rice porridge, or juk, is a popular dish in Korea known for its nutritional benefits and soothing effects, two things an undergrad like me can’t get enough of. Plus it’s just a great way to get full without having to spend a lot.
Disclaimer: I am neither Korean nor an expert on Korean cuisine. But when a friend asked to take me to a rice porridge place on Wilshire, I was instantly down.
Upon going, I realized that the late night ramen craze was nothing. With its cheap prices and generous portions, rice porridge at Bon Juk is where the money’s at.
When you step into the restaurant, there’s this distinguishing atmosphere. It’s the type of place your grandparents would hang out.
The walls are slightly off-white with dark wooden accents. The upholstery and carpeting are peacock blue. The furniture isn’t particularly new or stylish, but has a sense of quaint history and homeliness.
The service is also quick. For you impatient folks, you can simply sit down at an empty table without being escorted. Within minutes, hot tea and menus are brought out. You may have to wait for the main course, but it creates time to savor the tea, enjoy the atmosphere, and share the latest juicy gossip. After a day of midterms and classes, it’s a fantastic way to distress.
When the food comes, you’ll be in for a surprise– it’s a lot of food. Like, a lot. Now, like any good millennial, you’ve probably checked the Yelp reviews, but it’s nothing like the real deal.
You won’t believe what kinds of colors, flavors, and textures porridge can come in, suited to any individual’s taste.
The porridge is rich and goes down smoothly. You might be expecting a rice porridge to be on the bland side, but you’d be dead wrong. It’s bursting with savory flavors. Eighteen different ones. Shrimp, vegetable, seafood, pumpkin, and even red bean porridges are displayed across the menu in a rainbow array.
If you’re bogged down by all the options, Bon Juk’s most famous dishes are the chicken rice porridge and the seafood porridge. This place shreds the chicken into small, thin pieces, and there’s plenty to last from the first bite to the final bite.
Don’t overlook the vegetables distributed throughout either. Aside from the porridge itself, your meal will include an assortment of smaller sides, including braised beef, pickled radish, and the fan favorite, kimchi.
A restaurant is only as good as the kimchi they serve. If the dish is made too fresh or the spices and seasoning are too sparse, forget it. But Bon Juk passes the kimchi test. There isn’t a lot of it, but their kimchi is tangy, flavorful, and well-fermented.
Here’s another note on the juk: the porridge is hot. Careful, or your first bite will be more pain than pleasure. So savor it. Juk is a meal best experienced slowly and intentionally. It’s a lot more calming on the nerves than waiting in a hectic Chipotle line, so maybe you’ll want to skip out on the regular late night Burrito Bowl and try out a bowl of this instead.
By the end of the meal, you will be warm, you will be full, and you will come back for round 2 because this place will become your new favorite.
If you’re looking for more articles on ethnic food, check out below: