Farewell to the Dragon: A Koreatown Icon Bids Adieu

Farewell to the Dragon: A Koreatown Icon Bids Adieu

The Dragon, also known as Yung Gung, a beloved spot in Koreatown, is saying its goodbyes on January 28. This iconic Korean Chinese restaurant has been a hub for celebrations, from big life events like engagements and weddings to the tiniest tots’ first birthdays. Let’s take a moment to remember the Dragon’s glory days.

The Dragon, a Place of Memories and Milestones

For generations, the Dragon has been more than just a restaurant. It’s been a place where families and friends gathered to celebrate. With its multi-stories and spacious rooms upstairs, it was the go-to venue for parties of all sizes – sometimes even hosting gatherings for over a hundred people! Banquet tables, karaoke, and a piano for singalongs – the Dragon had it all.

The End of an Era in Koreatown

The Dragon’s closure comes as the property owner, Ten Jing Wang, plans to transform the space into a 90-unit apartment building. While this adds more housing to the neighborhood, it leaves a void in the hearts of Korean Americans and Angelenos who cherished the Dragon’s comforting bowls of jjajiangmyeon, jjampong, and other Korean Chinese delights.

A 43-Year Legacy

The Dragon’s story began 43 years ago when Wang opened its doors under the name Kirinwon. Back in the 1970s, Kirinwon served Korean Chinese fusion cuisine. Wang later expanded his culinary empire with restaurants like Wanggung, Sowanggung, and Geumjeong Sikdang before introducing the Dragon in 1980. Through the years, it became a cornerstone for the Korean American community.

A Gathering Place for All Occasions

With its central location, budget-friendly menu, and roomy upstairs, the Dragon was the top pick for special occasions. The first floor, with its open dining space, welcomed smaller groups for everyday meals. Tangsuyuk, kkanpungsaeu, mixed jellyfish appetizers – the Dragon served up classics that filled hearts and bellies.

From Fusion Roots to Local Favorites

Korean Chinese fusion cuisine originated in Incheon, South Korea, in the 19th century. As Chinese communities settled in the Korean peninsula, a unique blend of flavors emerged. Over time, these dishes became beloved favorites for Koreans worldwide, especially those living in the U.S.

A Bittersweet Goodbye

In 2015, Wang passed on the day-to-day operations to Choi, a Chinese restaurant owner in La Crescenta. However, Wang retained ownership of the Dragon’s land and building. Construction for the new apartments is set to begin by March 2024, with a completion target of two years. Wang expressed his sadness at closing the Dragon, noting that the patrons weren’t just customers but friends.

End of an Era

The Dragon’s closure signals the end of an era for grand Korean Chinese palaces in Koreatown. Great Wall bid farewell in 2018, leaving Young King (Yeon Gyeong) as the last banquet-style spot predating 1990. Dragon enthusiasts have a few more weeks to savor the nostalgic noodles and stir-fry dishes, always topped off with complimentary plates of toothpick-stuck candied sweet potatoes.

So here’s to the Dragon – a place that brought joy, laughter, and countless memories. You’ll be missed!