While tacos were chosen by you guys as the food to represent L.A., it was really close. There were actually only 2 votes in it, so we really had to go try some Korean BBQ as well. Luckily, we had been recommended a specific restaurant which does the most amazing BBQ – Genwa.
Korean BBQ is around in the UK, but it hasn’t really taken off yet. It should have, though. Because it’s bloody awesome. L.A., on the other hand actually has the largest population of Koreans outside of Korea. We’ve also been told it’s where you get the best Korean food outside of Korea, so we had high expectations!
We met Dan, the assistant manager and our guide for the meal. We walked in not really knowing what to expect and he led us to a huge table for 4. There was a lot of room, even with the little grill sunken into the middle of it. We soon found out why.
After a couple of minutes we started to understand why the table is so big! Dish after dish was put down on the table. We got 6 different types of beef, including a tartar style salad with sliced pear, a bulgogi, the most marbled steak ever and short ribs, cooked on the grill and slowcooked. Wow. The grill was fired up and Dan started cooking up that most melt-in-the-mouth steak. It. Was. Great.
But that wasn’t even close to everything. There were egg dishes, rice dishes and then came what traditional Korean food is so well known for: Banchan.
Banchan is lots of little dishes filled with all sorts of accompaniments to the larger dishes. This is where the kim chi and fermented food comes in, as well as pickles, small seafood and vegetable dishes and loads more. One of our favourites was a bean jelly (which is not easy to pick up with chopsticks!). There are hundreds of different banchan, and we must have had 25-30 little dishes on our table. Honestly, it was hard to know what to eat next! It’s possible that we wouldn’t have missed it if there had been a couple less on the table.
Dan did explain that generally, if he were eating at home then he might only ever have a few banchan on table for one meal, but when you’re at Genwa the whole meal is a piece of brilliant theatre. Each time you look back at the table you can’t quite believe the variety of colours, textures and flavours. It probably wouldn’t have quite the same impact if there were just a few bowls on the table.
Really, this food can only be done justice with photos (or go try it for yourself!). It was truly like nothing we’d seen before. The entire table was full to the brim with food… so much so that an extra temporary table was brought along (with some traditional Korean shots called Soju. Have with a good squeeze of lemon – amazing)
We’re seriously glad we didn’t miss out on this. It was some of the best food we tried in L.A., and we owe you one for suggesting it as part of our L.A. adventure. Have you tried Korean BBQ? What food is your city best known for?! Let us know in the comments!