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Masan, on a dark stretch of Olympic in the heart of Koreatown, is one of the oldest Korean restaurants in Los Angeles, a center for seafood and Hite beer since the 1970s. At the restaurant, agujjim is a seething bowl of monkfish, bean sprouts and as much chile as you can stand, sparked with a handful of chopped scallions and probably hiding a few sea squirts, peculiar invertebrates that look like scale-model replicas of moons from a planets-of-the-solar-system kit and explode into rich, iodine-tinged liquid when you chomp them between your teeth. After a bowl of the agujjim, a few plates of basic kimchi and a small bottle or two of soju, you will probably glance around the dining room, and you will probably notice the bank of bubbling live tanks, a display closer to Marineland than to the timid aquaria that hide the back of fancy Cantonese restaurants. And if you are in that kind of mood, and have a working credit card, the treasures of the sea start to appear on your table one by one, raw prawns perhaps, with their still-quite-lively heads glaring at you from the plate where they have been placed as garnish; farmed abalone fresh enough to squirm when you bite into it; sea urchin, spines still wiggling, whose nutty orange roe you scoop out of its shell; or a kind of pale conch with flesh dark and bitter as liver. See full review.
For photographs, view Anne Fishbein's slideshow "Live Octopus, Shrimp and Urchins: Masan Restaurant's Writhing Seafood." Korean restaurants, at least the best ones in Los Angeles, tend to specialize in a single type of food, whether tofu or pork... More »
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