EXPLORING KOREAN BBQ IN L.A.

Main_genwa

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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! :)

  • Ed Luna

    Have I tried it? I’ve LIVED in it for the past 4 years as a university English professor in Mokpo, Korea. (And I’m missing it due to my medical leave here in the US.) I’m glad you tried and really enjoyed it! If you folks ever visit Korea, you must come to the two provinces that comprise Jeolla-do, the food center of Korea. (Mokpo is in the southern end of Jeollanamdo, the southern Jeolla-do province.) Most of the independent domestic-style restaurants will serve between 10-20 varieties of banchan, depending on the season. Some of these might include gejang or gejang muchim (two varieties of marinated raw crab that is best in the spring), buchimgae/jeon (various batter-based savory pancakes), and perhaps the most interesting one, beondegi (I’m not going to tell you what that one is…). The thing is that the wide variety of banchan is typical of Jeolla-do, but not so typical in a place like Seoul.

    As for my current city – San Diego – the two things that we are definitely known for are carne asada chips (or fries), where chopped carne asada, beans, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream are served over a large plate of fried tortilla chips or fries. The other thing is definitely a San Diegan thing, specifically the South Bay: salt-and-pepper chicken wings, also widely known as crack chicken wings (as they are purportedly as addictive as *crack*). This started in the late 80s at a number of some local Chinese restaurants, and now people carry out TRAYS of the wings for their parties or dinners. Here’s a recipe (http://kirbiecravings.com/2014/01/salt-and-pepper-wings.html), but at some point you’ll have to taste it on its home turf.

  • Michelle

    I’m SO happy you guys enjoyed Korean BBQ! And I hope it introduced you guys into the beautiful world of Korean cuisine!! (as a Korean I am suddenly getting more prideful teehee)
    There are sooooo many delicious Banchans out there and so happy you guys tried them!!! I love the bean jelly so much, my mom makes it at home sometimes and its amazing with soysauce and some green onions and red pepper flakes. I hope you guys ate korean BBQ the right way too hahah xD Next time you guys have korean food, Try the stews, soups, and the other dishes!!
    D: now im hungry.

  • http://www.christinascucina.com Christina Conte

    I lived with Korean friends when I moved to LA, so it’s one of my favorite cuisines! SOOO happy you guys went for bbq, but how in the world could Mike have missed that!! One of the best meals he could have had on the entire trip (imho). :)

  • E.K.

    I sincerely hope this experience has opened your guys’s eyes to the world of Korean cuisine, and I would love to see Korean-style recipe videos from you guys in the upcoming future!

  • Samantha

    You should come to Korea to get authentic (well… More authentic heh) Korean food! There is a lot more than just KBBQ and it qod be so amazing if you guys can come!

  • Mera

    When Korean restaurants care about the taste and quality, then it becomes more than just food. Luckily Dan is a great host and highlights the experience.

  • Kimberly Johnston

    Were Mike and Barry there or did they miss out on serious deliciousness?

  • Christina Rees

    This actually looks amazing.
    I know you’re only in the early stages but are there any brewing plans on coming to Australia?

  • Julie

    Did you film while you were there? It would be amazing to see you feature this on video :)

  • Christin N. W.

    Yes I have but never with that amount of Banchan. I remembered my late father taking the four of us to a Korean restaurant and ordered the bbq almost every time. I grew up being a fussy eater so I would only eat the beef and leave the plate of raw vegetables for my parents. I’m still a fussy eater but I try to eat my vegetables first and leave the food that I like last.

  • http://www.mykoreanhusband.com/ Nic (MyKoreanHusband)

    Usually have Korean BBQ every week…. because I live in Korea! Hope you guys can come to Korea sometime.

  • http://www.mykoreanhusband.com/ Nic (MyKoreanHusband)

    Usually have Korean BBQ every week…. because I live in Korea! Hope you guys can come to Korea sometime.

  • 심판인

    my favorite place !

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