Some of the greatest architectural minds in California have obviously expressed themselves here through new and ever more ingenious ways to circumvent the state’s draconian no-smoking laws, which means that even small storefront restaurants have walls that fold away to convert their front rooms into “outdoor” dining areas. Some newly constructed restaurants are basically massive patios wrapped in a thin scrim of infrastructure. (Inadvertently or not, the smoking laws brought about a sort of revival of the indoor-outdoor modernism of the ’50s, except instead of bringing the indoors outside like Neutra or late Frank Lloyd Wright, the architects are bringing the outdoors in, proving that it is indeed possible to make a patio seem like a dark, smoky bar.)

Last night I met up with my old friend, Famous Artist Brendan Lott, at Dan Sung Sa on 6th street in Ktown. I live on 9th Street, but pretty far west of there, so I thought it would make more sense to take the Purple Line than to walk. I thought wrong, and I ended up arriving pretty late. I got there, and Brendan was already set up with sojo and slightly spicy cabbage/bean sprout/potato soup.

"You can smoke here," he said. He was sitting at the counter, under a sign with crossed-out cigarette. All around us, young, attractive Koreans puffed Marlboro reds. Brendan doesn’t smoke, but he seemed more charmed than annoyed.

I had read the above Jonathan Gold piece when I first moved into the neighborhood last month, so I knew that magical things had been done to legally outfit Koreatown establishments for smoking, but it wasn’t until last night that I found time to go out and see it for myself. Having been in one of these places, I still have no idea how they make it work. To Brendan’s left last night was a wooden beam, half-assedly constructed to look like a tree — as if all they need to claim that the entire indoor restaurant is actually an outdoor patio is an obviously fake gesture towards nature.

Anyway, I loved it. The seafood pancake and pork ribs were pretty amazing. The omelette and fresh sea squirt were not.

Full disclosure, I guess: Jonathan Gold and I are technically co-workers.