Restaurant: Hamji Park
Location: 4135 Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019. (323) 733-8333
Date: July 10, 2018 & December 23, 2021
Cuisine: Korean Pork BBQ
Rating: Great ribs and pork
K-Town adventure time, with LA’s awesome Korean food scene.
Hamji Park has a couple outputs, but we go to the Pico one. The small chain specializes in Pork BBQ Ribs (Korean style, of course) and various other pork products.
The interior is pretty much all K-Town — down to the ceiling hoods.
This is a surprisingly short menu for a Korean place.
Ron brought some of the insanely good: 2006 Taittinger Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Comtes de Champagne. VM 97. The 2006 Comtes de Champagne is striking, especially in the way it brings together elements of ripeness and freshness in a hypothetical blend of the 2002 and 2004. Smooth and creamy on the palate, the 2006 is all about texture. There is a real feeling of density and weight in the 2006, qualities I expect to see grow with time in the bottle. All the elements fall into place effortlessly. The 2006 has been nothing short of magnificent both times I have tasted it. Comtes de Champagne remains the single best value (in relative terms) in tête de cuvée Champagne. I suggest buying a case and following it over the next 20-30 years, which is exactly what I intend to do. There is little doubt the 2006 Comtes de Champagne is a magical Champagne in the making.
Hamji Park is fairly old school so they have a minimalist array of banchan.
Cabbage with miso dressing.
Marinated spicy something? A bit chewy, this was one of my favorites.
Chewy fish cakes, always great.
Cabbage and chili paste.
Albert brought: 2015 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé. VM 93. Pale orange. Lively, expansive citrus pith and red currant aromas are complemented by suggestions of chalky minerals and white flowers. Sappy, concentrated and precise, offering palate-staining red berry and blood orange flavors and a hint of spicy white pepper. Shows excellent thrust and persistence on the mineral-driven finish, which emphatically echoes the floral and citrus fruit qualities. I’m impressed by the way this wine balances the opulence of the vintage with vivacity and I suspect it will reward at least another eight or so years of patience — standard behavior for this bottling, which ages more like a red wine than a pink one.
Stir Fried Octopus with Noodles. This is some great octopus. Nice and tender with a great Korean spicy sauce and sleek rice noodles.
From my cellar: 1990 Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste. RP95-96. The 1990 Grand-Puy-Lacoste is a wine that I had not tasted for a number of years. For a long time it was stubborn and tannic, uncommon attributes in what was such a comely vintage. Now at 26 years of age, this bottle served by Xavier Borie suggests that finally the 1990 has come round. Deep in color, it has a gorgeous bouquet of black fruit, potpourri, graphite and melted tar. There is warmth here, but it does not impede upon the articulation of its origins in Pauillac. The palate has clearly melted in recent years, and maintains superb balance and weight. Sure, as Robert Parker himself remarked, it is evolving at a glacial pace—slower than the 1998 tasted alongside. That means its pleasure is going to be prolonged over many, many years.
Ron brought: 1973 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello. JG 94. The 1973 Monte Bello was another wine that I had two bottles of from an auction purchase, and so when the first bottle did not show brilliantly well, I was able to let the second bottle rest and additional nine months, which seemed to settle the wine back down nicely. The second bottle was a glorious example of Monte Bello that very much showed the more “Graves-like” personality of this wine in many vintages, as it offers up a superb, “cool” fruit-toned bouquet of cassis, leather, cigar ash, a hint of eucalyptus and petroleum jelly, and a complex base of gravelly soil tones. On the palate the wine is fullish, deep and very complex, with beautiful focus, fine mid-palate depth and a very refined, poised and meltingly tannic finish of great length and dimension. The ’73 Monte Bello has retained excellent acidity (perhaps due to it only weighing in at 12.8% alcohol), which has kept the wine fresh, vibrant and showing great grip on the backend. A very finesseful and elegant vintage of Monte Bello, which is not short on either depth or power.
Pork Spare Ribs. A bit sweet and sour, tons and tons of porky meat. Really great ribs.
Beef ribs (bulgolgi).
From my cellar: 1995 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. 94 points. Opulent but balanced, dignified without slathered oak or exagerrated maloloactic fermentation. Good show.
Salad. Nice acidic dressing, and really good.
Ron brought (but we didn’t open): 1990 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape. JG92+. The 1990 Château Beaucastel is a lovely wine and is just about ready for primetime drinking, but will continue to improve over the coming five or six years and then cruise along for decades from that point forward. The bouquet offers up a fine blend of dried raspberries and red currants, roasted game, incipient autumnal tones (fallen leaves) and a potpourri of spice tones in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and a touch leathery in personality, with a good core, melting tannins and fine length and grip on the complex finish. Having had the good fortune to drink several older vintages of Beaucastel at peak maturity, my gut instinct with the 1990 would be to let it rest in the cellar for just a few more years and allow the last layer of aromatic complexity to emerge here, though it must be said that the wine is really lovely on the palate right now.
Albert brought: 1995 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 93 points. Lovely, complex farmyard, truffles, undergrowth, ripe damson fruit mellow leather and spices. Beautiful wine drunk with five spice duck fried rice and was perfect.
Pork Neck Stew with Potato. This was the surprise of the evening for me. Super delicious Korean stew. Rich savory broth, succulent pork meat, hefty potato. Just all good if not much of a looker. 3 or so times they “added broth” to it too which rejuvenated the whole dish. This could feed a family of 4!
Erick brought: 2004 Bond Vecina. VM 95. A very pretty and expressive Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2004 Vecina is also the first wine in this tasting that shows some degree of aromatic development. Even so, the 2004 is huge on the palate, with a bold, exotic expression of very ripe fruit. Scorched earth, smoke, tobacco and leather give the wine its distinctive, brooding personality. This is impressive stuff.
Yarom brought: 1998 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Upper Block Gaudeamus Vineyard. 94 points. Have always loved this wine…and have purchased and drunk my fair share of it. Lot of people panned it, so that’s why I was able to buy a bunch at crazy good prices over the last 10yrs! Well, last bottle I had was 6 yrs ago, which was another great bottle, but starting to show some age and sourness. In my best Mark Twain voice….”The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” THIS bottle tonight is spectacular! Starts off with a little funky barnyard brett, the good kind! Dark silky berry fruits…perfectly ripe and liqueured…with the slightest green streak of tobacco, sage and herbs, which I find fascinating in this wine…like you would Heitz Martha’s. Full bodied and rich with mocha oak barrel, cedar spice, cocoa powder…but NOT over the top sweet like you see in most Cabs now. Youthful, plush full mouth feel, complexities all over the map….and plenty left in the tank. I’ve only had a couple Schrader Cabs other than this one…but I can say that this 98 is still my fav!
Seb brought: 2014 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon LPV Beckstoffer Las Piedras Vineyard. RP 99. The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon LPV is from clone 337 from the Las Piedras Vineyard in St. Helena. This shows Mission Haut-Brion-like characteristics as it has in the past, with crushed rock, wet gravel, scorched earth, blackberry and blueberry fruit. It is clearly one of my favorites of this entire tasting. It has 14.5% natural alcohol and was aged in 90% new Darnajou and 10% new Taransaud barrels. This is a killer effort.
The pork cooker — actually used (by us) for beef.
Marinated Beef Sirloin.
Very tough, not too much flavor. Actually the only disappointing dish of the night.
Pork belly cooking.
Bacon. Yes, it’s actually slightly different than the pork belly.
This was great fun. Good food, particularly the ribs, neck soup, and octopus. The wines were awesome too and we brought both too many and way overkill stuff for KBBQ — but that’s how we roll!