Traveling Around Asia in LA, Part I

Recently during my self-inflicted noodles and dumplings mini-tour of the San Gabriel Valley, I challenged myself to leave the SGV for Asian food outside the mecca. Okay, the mostly Chinese and Vietnamese mecca. We all know (or we should) that Korean food is really great in K-town but there are some pockets in the Valley (not SGV, the actual Valley) that feature Korean cuisine.

banchan spread

One cold afternoon, my best friend and I trundled over to BCD Tofu House in Reseda but apparently everyone had the same idea. Now, BCD is not my fave tofu house. Invariably the LA one has left my stomach rioting (and not in a good way– is there a good way for stomachs to riot?) but the Reseda one is acceptable.

black goat stew

After a quick search, we headed across the street to San Ma Ru. Their only signage states they are a Korean Restaurant. The homey place had one waitress running around trying to get to every table. We didn’t get our tea and banchan until after several large tables got their wishes granted. But it was all diplomatic. We had to be patient and just wait like everyone else. I spotted black goat stew and decided that’s what I wanted. My best friend ordered the bulgogi and for the hell of it, we got the soon dobu (tofu soup) as well. It ended up being way, way, way too much food.

soon dobu

I really liked the banchan but when do I not like banchan? I can eat buckets of kimchi and still feel pretty good about myself. As busy as the waitress was, she came to refill the kimchi right away when she noticed I had scarfed it all down.

The black goat stew and tofu soup weren’t as thick as I would have liked. There was some mix-up and they tried to give us noodles instead of the soon dobu but luckily, we were able to switch it. Now I wondered how the noodles were in the anchovy broth. I’m going to have to head back to K-town for some proper black goat stew soon.


I would have preferred the kalbi instead of bulgogi but my best friend didn’t want to deal with bones. This bulgogi wasn’t fearfully sweet and actually it was very nice. My overall feeling is this place reminded me a lot of K-town but much nicer and less stressful parking.

San Ma Ru

18111 Saticoy Street
Los Angeles, CA 91335

(818) 344-0750