Pojangmacha 포장마차

FACT: The best food is in the sketchiest of places.

(I’m really getting the hang of this empty plates thing!)

Last week, around this time, I was in the Bay Area, revisiting my old stomping grounds and eating at my favorite haunts. It was my last full day in the Bay so my best friend/roommate and I thought it would be a good idea to make this last day count.

We ended up starting with drinks and food at one of our favorite Korean dive bars, affectionately named, “Porno Palace.” Porno Palace, which is formally known as Dan Sung Sa (links to the LA location), is known for serving anju (aka tapas) but really should more appropriately be called “the best friggin thing to eat with drinks” food.

Why you ask?

A quick look through their menu will tell you everything you need to know: greasy food, grilled meats, fried chicken, cheesy corn, spicy, starchy rice cake goodness paired with Korean beers, soju, or (my personal favorite) soju cocktails. Anything you could possibly crave, any possible combination of flavors can be yours–the world is your oyster.

Legend has it that prior to becoming the restaurant it was known today, the building that houses Dan Sung Sa was originally an adult movie store. Graphic and lewd posters of these movies were plastered all over the walls and remained there, even after the store went out of business.

Unfortunately, a Korean couple bought the restaurant without seeing the venue. So when they went to renovate, to their surprise, found the walls covered in pornographic posters and no matter how much they tried, each layer of poster removed, revealed yet another lewd poster. The couple decided, instead, to cover these posters with Korean movie posters.

Dan-Sung-Sa-Porno-Palace-Rabokki-Ramen-Dokbokki
Ramen Tteokbokki (Rabokki) | $13.99

Onto the food.

I wasn’t as hungry as I would’ve liked to be, but I was determined to get two things that I knew could only be done right in California. Ramen Ddeokbokki (above), Corn Cheese (below) – which should be “cheese or cheesy corn” but is my new obsession nonetheless – and at least one Strawberry-Peach soju cocktail (below) to share.

Dan-Sung-Sa-Porno-Palace-Cheese-Corn
Corn Cheese | $6.99

Ddeokbokki is a Korean dish of rice cakes in a red chili paste-based sauce, usually mixed with a bit of corn syrup, green onions, a hard-boiled egg, Korean ramyeon, sesame seeds, carrots, and other assorted veggies.

Dan_Sung_Sa_Porno_Palace_Soju_Cocktail
Strawberry-Peach Soju Cocktail | $13.99

I asked them to make it mild because I am a wimp. But at any spice level, it is essentially heaven in your mouth. It was as good as I remembered it and I wanted to cry (Bonchon’s is too spicy and not flavorful enough!).

The Corn Cheese or Cheese Corn or whatever it is supposed to be called is my new obsession. It is a dish made from sweet corn – probably straight from the can – cheese, and mayo. This version was ok, but could have been better with less mayo and more cheese next time. (Don’t ask me how my stomach discerns between the two).

The last thing we got is one of the reasons why Porno Palace is our favorite place – the soju cocktails. They have an assortment of flavors to choose from: lemon, green apple, peach, strawberry, and pineapple. And, pro tip: you can combine flavors! Our go-to is Strawberry-Peach, which comes out in a carafe that can get about 8 shots for a table. The cocktail isn’t too strong, but it is delicious with the sweet, fruit-juice-almost-smoothie-like texture of the drinks cutting through the potent (and sometimes unpalatable) taste of the soju.
Dan-Sung-Sa-Porno-Palace-Empty-Plates-2

As you can see from the photo above, this meal most-definitely ended in an empty plate (though it was a struggle as my lactose-intolerance was kicking in full force). It was delicious and comforting in the best of ways and reminded me of the lack of good Korean food in New York City. I stuffed my face, but yet, I still wish we could’ve ordered and eaten more.

Until next time, my movie poster-laden Porno Palace!

Where’s your favorite dive bar located and why is it your favorite? Share in the comments below:

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