Chef Mindy Oh’s Korean-American story at Abernethy’s LA – Beverly Press & Park Labrea News
Abernethy’s at the Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles continues to entice foodies and theater goers with their rotating chef concept. Currently, chef de cuisine Mindy Oh shares her Korean-American story through her thoughtful menu items honoring her grandparents.
Oh has been a leader of the Emerging Chef Program at the DTLA restaurant. She has worked closely with the last four emerging chefs, leading the execution of each of their storytelling menus. Now it’s Oh’s time to shine and share her culinary journey growing up in Koreatown.
After studying at Le Cordon Bleu, Oh perfected her culinary skills at Patina Catering. She was also a sous chef at Superba Food and Bread, and Mora on 3rd Street, an Italian restaurant where we first met
I dined at Abernethy’s before the opening night of Alex Edelman’s “Just For Us” now playing at the Mark Taper Forum. We started with a uniquely Korean-American dish– cheese corn with crunchy tortilla chips. Oh uses ingredients inspired by the two cultures, baking sweet corn, mixed with Kewpie mayo and topped with shredded mozzarella cheese and salsa polvo (similar to Tajin). Served in a black skillet, we scooped the melted stringy cheese with corn kernels with a chip for the perfect bite of sweetness, crunchiness and savoriness. I enjoyed this starter so much that I decided to recreate it for my upcoming Thanksgiving family meal.
“Korean food is about each element balancing each other,” said Oh when she brought out a bowl of hamachi. Named Dongchimi, the thin raw fish slices were enhanced in a water-based broth topped with shiso oil. Thinly sliced Serrano chilies and charred green onions floated on top of the broth. Oh said this non-spicy dish is very healthy, as is Japchae, a beloved Korean dish made with sweet potato starch noodles. Oh stir-fries a colorful medley of chopped vegetables, that included spinach, shredded carrots, wood ear and shiitake mushrooms and red bell peppers. She added a slightly sweet tamari sauce and sprinkled a heavy dose of sesame seeds to complete this dish.
A favorite dish of the night was roasted Japanese pumpkin also known as kabocha squash that was slicked with a slightly sweet brown sugar and soy glaze and topped with pumpkin and sesame seeds.
Another popular Korean dish, Galbi-jim, beef short ribs braised in soy sauce, is one of Oh’s favorites. She slices chestnuts, and adds a handful of pine nuts, radish and sliced jujubes. Jujube is a Southern Asian fruit, also known as a red or Chinese date. Small and round with a crunch like an apple, the fruit is then dried, jujubes taste more like dates.
Oh enjoys eating Galbi-jim with Bap, a short grain white rice, and with Korean Buchut chives that look like thick flat leaves. They offer a delightful garlic flavor. Oh adds sour plum ume vinegar, carrots and a red gochugaru chili spice.
A small bowl of Jjangachi cucumbers were pickled for a short time and served with slices of radishes, onion, jalapeno and fresno chiles. This had the most kick of spicy heat.
We finished with a bowl of Sikhye, also known as Korean rice punch granita to cool down our palate. This Korean favorite sweet treat was served with a large scoop of Fosselman’s vanilla ice cream decorated with crushed ice, dried jujube rings and a multigrain powder called Misutgaru. Oh said to mix it all up before taking our first bite. It’s light, refreshing and fun to eat.
Other desserts include a sweet rice flour Chapshal donut and sweet rice balls with black sesame called Kyung Dan.
The next emerging chef to arrive at Abernethy’s is John Cleveland. Scheduled to start in December, he will work with Oh to help tell his culinary journey landing at Post & Beam. Known for creating a Southern comfort menu, I’m excited to experience this new Abernethy’s culinary adventure next month. $$-$$$. 220 N. Hope St., Los Angeles, (213)972-8088.