Spam I Am

Take31 feels miles from K-Town

We were reminded about the glories of Spam at Take31, located just east of Koreatown.

Cut thinly and grilled on both sides, that unfairly maligned processed pork product–the butt of a world's worth of jokes–is balanced gently on golf-ball-size joomeokbap ($6.50 for five), or rice balls. Each is topped with a squirt of Kewpie mayonnaise and seasoned with seaweed; they are soft and salty, crisp and crunchy.

Served five to an order in an adorable porcelain egg crate, the rice balls capture the spirit of this hip Korean spot. The restaurant, sheltered under scaffolding, is more in line with the spirit of urban farmhouse chic than the flash of K-Town, which hums frenetically just over Fifth Avenue.

Come for a pile of the 15-piece Kkanppung Chicken WingWing (so nice they had to say it twice; $19): chicken wings fried in garlic oil, lacquered in a sweet-and-sour sauce and sprinkled with scallions.

The sweet buzz of chile heat is everywhere–in the layers of a kimchi pancake ($13), and in the gochu-twigim ($12), fried green chile peppers stuffed with ground pork.

The antidote comes in the form of an order of corn cheese ($8). A miniature shovel's worth of canned corn, the dish practically heaves under the weight of a melted layer of mozzarella.

Just like the Spam, our advice is the same–try it; you'll like it.