Hot Off the Presses

Cocohodo's machine-made delights

A fully automated assembly line fills the back area of a small stall in the prepared-foods corner of Koreatown's Zion Market.

When an operator at the newly opened Cocohodo brings the machine to life, its tubes and fluted molds act in concert to make the walnut-shaped Korean sweet hodo gwaja.

What rolls off the end of the line looks like crunchy, walnut-studded cookies. Holding our first paper-wrapped hodo gwaja, its soft weight bearing heat from the machine, we figured that visual context wouldn't hold, a suspicion that was confirmed with our first bite: The faux nut's doughy shell is soft and spongy, the pastry giving away to a molten interior of just-sweet red bean paste punctuated by the earthy bite of a walnut half.

A small sack of the treats ($3 for nine) is barely enough fodder for navigating Zion's vast gochujang selection, as the hodo gwaja can be put away in a bite or two. So why not buy more? You can snag an insulated gift box of 36 walnut cakes for $14, ensuring that when you untwist the paper bundle of a hodo gwaja, it will still carry a comforting warmth.

Cocohodo, 3500 W. 6th St., Koreatown; 213-382-8943 or cocohodo.co.kr/coco_e/