So after my first visit to Chang Ahn Jung, this week's review , I couldn't stop driving down to Federal Way, aka Koreatown South. If

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Federal Way: It's Not Just for Boiled Sablefish

So after my first visit to Chang Ahn Jung, this week's review, I couldn't stop driving down to Federal Way, aka Koreatown South. If you're driving down to exit 143, there are two food clusters worth checking out:

No. 1: The two Korean strip malls on the 33100 and 33300 blocks of Pacific Highway South. (Map.) Holy kimchi, is this the spot for all things spicy! Just around the corner from Chang Ahn Jung is Cockatoo's Chicken, a bar specializing in yang nyum, or deep-fried chicken, which comes plain or in a sugary chile glaze scattered with peanuts. Cockatoo's not the greatest (I tried to go to Hanmaum down the street, which is supposed to be better, but it was mysteriously closed), but it's cheap, especially during happy hour, which lasts until 8:30. You can get ice-cold pitchers of Hite for $11 and drummettes and wings for $5, as well as sticky rice cakes sauteed with kimchi, fish-cake soup, and other drinking snacks.

In the 33300 block, just down the street, is another mini-mall that features the #$^#$ Hamnaum, two Korean-Chinese restaurants (in my experience, mostly interesting from a sociological standpoint for non-Koreans), and two more full-service Korean restaurants I have yet to visit.

No 2: The Pal-Do World Building on S. 320th. (Map.) Just off the freeway, in the first mall complex on your right, is the Pal-Do World grocery store, whose lobby contains a cluster of small businesses. Competing in the whole fried-chicken genre, there's a Chicky Pub franchise -- Nancy Leson just visited the branch in the Lynnwood Pal-Do -- and a branch of the Cho Dang Tofu Restaurant.

The informant who, two years ago, first sent me to Ka Won, still my favorite Korean restaurant in the area, also recommended I go to the Federal Way Cho Dang, because they had a fried sardine side dish that she particularly loved. Not only did I clean that fish of every scrap of meat, I thought Cho Dang's spicy soft-tofu stew with clams, beef, and prawns was much better than rival chain BCD Tofu up north. A $10 meal comes with six or seven banchan (side dishes) as well as rice cooked in a stone pot. If you stick around long enough and clean your plates, the waitress comes back around with hot barley tea to pour into your rice bowl to make a soup of the crispy brown grains that have stuck to the sides of the pot. That is, if you have any room left in your stomach.

 
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