Name of restaurant: Wara Wara. Underneath it says in Korean: "Fire burning clam grill," but what does it mean?
What dish represents the restaurant, and why? The seafood grill. The owners go downtown to the fish market daily and bring shellfish so fresh that they have to hold down the live crab over the charcoal flames so that it doesn't try to escape its demise. The menu includes shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, oysters, baby conch, crab, corn and sausage. At the end of the meal, they’ll also bring you rice cake sticks, mushrooms and sweet potatoes. Just when you think you’re finished, they’ll ask if you want fried rice or kalgooksu (handcut noodles). Opt for the noodles, served in a simple anchovy broth, if you still have room.
Even if you don't want the seafood grill, the best thing on the menu is the seafood hot pot served in a metal cauldron. They'll add the nuleungji (crispy burnt rice) at the table so that you get maximum crunch when you eat it.
Concept: A clam bake in the backyard of your eccentric Korean uncle. Head straight to the patio, strewn with round outdoor tables outfitted with grills.
Follow the money: In the old Danji space with new owners (your receipt will still read "Danji").
Who's at the next table? Middle-aged Korean couples and their friends clink shots of soju and beer while they reminisce about younger days back in the old country. They even make the owners and the waitress have a drink with them.
Appropriate for ... a leisurely summer dinner with a group of old friends, best if they are also adventurous eaters.
Uh-oh ... The special seafood grill menu is only in Korean, but the staff speak English. Be careful not to overcook your food; the clams and mussels are done as soon as their shells open up. Be ready to have a long dinner and to eat with your hands. They bring you a bucket for your discards, but it's still a messy affair.
Service is slow but neighborly. They’ll keep bringing out more and more food, and help you crack the crabs and shuck the oysters.
What are you drinking? Shared bottles of Chamiseul soju and Hite beer are best for hot summer nights.
Info: 4251 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 906-9956.