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Korean BBQ

Korean Food USA: Kristalbelli

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Suzi Pratt

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Korean BBQ has gone upscale, and of course New York is the city to add a dazzling touch to a simple concept.

Kristalbelli, the highly buzzed about restaurant opened by J.Y. Park, the South Korean entertainer extraordinaire and producer of K-pop acts such as the Wonder Girls and 2PM, opened its doors to the anticipation of many.

Belly-shaped crystal grills at KristalbelliKristalbelli’s unique belly-shaped crystal grill (also where the restaurant gets its nom de guerre)

Inside the two story building is a restaurant and bar, but what’s really special about Kristalbelli are the belly-shaped crystal grills placed at each group table. Infrared heating fires up the grills, using traditional Korean cooking techniques that rely on infrared and crystal to efficiently cook meat. Kristalbelli is now be the first restaurant in the states to use infrared technology.

At the helm of operations is Korean American executive chef David Shim.  He composed menus for a lounge, dinner, dessert, and wine. Each menu item represents his take on traditional Korean dishes.

Lounge Menu Samples

  • Bokbunja steak is a cut served with black raspberry reduction.
  • Kochi is pork belly served with shrimp and asparagus skewers.
  • Twigim is fried sweet potato and burdock.

Dinner Menu Samples

  • Gujeolpan is a “traditional emperor’s cuisine” of thinly sliced veggies and beef served with a crepe.
  • Haemul pajeon is a mixed seafood pancake.
  • Doenjang jjigae is a soybean paste stew with veggies and tofu.
  • Premium wagyu beef is available.

8 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
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[Photo: Kristalbelli]

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Korean Food USA: Gen Korean BBQ

Posted on 03 February 2012 by Melissah Yang

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When it comes to AYCE Korean BBQ, most people can’t put quality and quantity in the same sentence. Gen Korean BBQ in Tustin, CA refuses to make that compromise. The moment you walk in, you get the sense that this is going to be a different kind of AYCE experience.

If Tron wanted Korean BBQ, he would feel right at home at Gen. Electrifying blue and white lights line the spacious white leather booths, and upbeat electro music plays in the background as you devour your food. Looking around, you realize that the ambience definitely caters to a younger crowd.

Left: Kobe Chadol; Right (Clockwise): Saeng Galbi, Beef Tongue, Joomulluk

This is not the place to just fill up on chadolbaegi and samgyeopsal. Gen is all about offering quality meats and ingredients while still fulfilling their customers’ desire for variety. Gen offers 25 different meat and dish selections. With each order, servers actually bring out smaller portions – not to cheat hungry eaters – but so that each table can try as many different types of cuts and flavors as possible.

Noteworthy Selections:
#1: Gen Signature Prime Steak

#4: Kobe Chadol

#6: Kobe Woosul – Beef Tongue

#9: Saeng Galbi

#12: Joomulluk

#24: Spicy Rice Cake (pictured left)

Accompaniments that go with your meats include the standard mixture of sesame oil and salt, sweetened soy sauce, and spicy chili. The standout condiment is Gen’s exclusive salt and green tea powder mixture, which hits the spot for those with a salty palate.

Gen opened in September of last year, but its huge following only continues to grow. A two-hour wait is standard for peak hours and weekends, but the time spent scuffling your feet outside is worth it. In response to the high demand, Gen is in the process of remodeling its former bar and patio area. The remodeling will double the size of space for diners, and Gen plans on finishing its expansion by the end of February or early March.

Gen is open until midnight so it is a popular destination for not only meat-hungry customers, but also those looking for a fun place to drink. Gen just started a Happy Hour, which goes from 9:30pm to closing and includes $3 beers and $6 soju cocktails.

Tips for a successful eating adventure:

  1. Try to arrive during off-hours in order to minimize your wait time. Weekdays before 5pm and after 8:30pm are usually the best times to go.
  2. Compared to dinner at $20, lunch is only an easy $15. Keep in mind though that Gen does offer different meats for their lunch and dinner menus.
  3. Even though Gen gives a 2-hour limit for eating, pace yourself! Order small waves of plates so that you don’t get too full by the time you hit the 1-hour mark.

Gen Korean BBQ & Yakitori Bar
13741 Newport Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 505-1800

[Photos: Mindy Nguyen]

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Korean Food USA: Jang Soo BBQ

Posted on 05 January 2012 by Deborah J. Yoon

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Korean Food USA is a new series that showcases Korean and Korean-inspired eateries all around the nation.

Jang Soo BBQ Ashley Lee

When Ashley Lee became the owner of San Francisco’s Jang Soo BBQ, the restaurant underwent a complete renovation.

Described by SFWeekly’s Jonathan Kaufman as recall[ing] both Prairie School architecture and J. Lo videos,” the revamped restaurant has crystallized chandeliers and the walls are furnished with slate.  If the decor isn’t extravagant enough, Lee, who also owns Ashely’s Cafe on California St., takes service to the next level: she greets all her guests wearing a hanbok, a traditional Korean dress.

Being a BBQ joint, the meat they serve is superb—it’s tender yet flavorful. However, they also have other delicious entree dishes as well. Kimchi Jjigae, a spicy stew made of fermented cabbage, beef, onions, garlic, and kimchi, is a favorite. Eaters have the option of ordering it “Korean-style”—i.e., straight-up spicy.

Seafood BibimbapHaemul Dolsot Bibimbap

Jang Soo also have several different kinds of bibimbaps, like their Haemul Dolsot Bibimbap. The dish combines all the regular ingredients of vegetables included in bibimbap, but instead of meat, there is variety of seafood mixed in.

So, if you need a new K-BBQ joint to frequent, try Jang Soo!

Jang Soo BBQ
6314 Geary Blvd (Btwn. 27th Ave & 28th Ave.)
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 221-8282

[Photos: (top) Lara Hata/SFweekly; David B/Yelp]

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Top 5 Late-Night Korean Eats: Los Angeles Edition

Posted on 30 November 2011 by Melissah Yang

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Late night eats - Los Angeles

When you’re hungry, you just gotta eat… no matter what time of the day it is! Luckily, Los Angeles offers plenty of restaurants that embrace all eaters when late night cravings hit.

Every restaurant on our list of the Top 5 Late-Night Eats is open 24/7. So if you’re still thinking about that amazing meal after you wake up, you can go back and satisfy your taste buds right away. Chances are the same workers will still be there, and they’ll probably remember you from just a few hours before. Not to mention, all of the dishes highlighted can please post-drinking munchies and help nurse those nasty morning-afters.

1) Hodori Restaurant – Yukgaejang

Hodori - Yukgaejang

Ask any Korean in L.A. for the most popular place to eat late at night, and few will forget to mention Hodori. Hodori is a staple in Koreatown and is known for its large assortment of Korean dishes, meaning that everyone will find their perfect pick-me-up.

Hodori is a favorite for both Koreans and non-Koreans who are looking for some quick service and delicious food after a night out. Not many establishments can say that their busiest times are from midnight-5am. Yukgaejang, a spicy dish consisting of shredded beef and scallion and enokitake mushroom toppings, is one of Hodori’s most popular dishes and is definitely big enough to feed two hungry stomachs. With written text lining its walls, Hodori proudly proclaims, “Bring me your tired, your poor, your hungry drunken masses yearning to be fed.”

Hodori Restaurant
1001 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
http://www.hodorirestaurants.com (10% off coupon on website)
Follow Hodori on Facebook and Twitter

2) BCD Tofu House – Soondubu Jjigae

BCD Tofu House - Soondubu

If you’re looking for something to warm you up during the wee hours of the night and early morning, BCD Tofu House has what you’re looking for!

Although BCD, a.k.a Buk Chang Dong, is a huge restaurant chain with locations in California, New York, Washington, and South Korea, many who have dined at various BCD locations are adamant that the BCD on Wilshire & Kingsley is the best of them all. BCD specializes in Soon dubu jjigae—a spicy stew with large amounts of soft tofu that arrives at your table boiling in a hot stone pot. There are many different types of soondubu jjigae: original (with beef or pork), seafood, kimchi, dumpling, doenjang (soybean paste), ham & sausage, and for vegans, there’s also a mushroom soon dubu option! Most hungry customers opt for their special combos, which provide both steaming soondubu and sizzling Korean BBQ. BCD Wilshire is temporarily closed until February 2012, but the nearby Western branch is open for late-night soon dubu crawls.

BCD Tofu House – Western Branch
869 S. Western Ave #2,
Los Angeles, CA 90005

3) Keungama Korean Restaurant – Haejangguk & Gamjatang

Keungama - Gamjatang“Our Gamjatang is our pride.”

Haejangguk (“soup to chase a hangover”), is a word that can describe any variety of delicious Korean soups and stews that are usually consumed after a long night of drinking. Keungama specializes in haejangguk, a hearty dish usually comprised of ox bone broth, veggie toppings, and coagulated ox blood. Keungama’s Gamjatang is a customer favorite, and its spicy broth mixed with pork neck and potatoes hits the right spot after one of those nights. Best of all, Keungama doesn’t use any MSG!

Keungama Korean Restaurant
3498 W. 8th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005

4) Mountain Café (Ssan) – Samgyetang & Jeonbokjuk

Mountain Cafe - Abalone and ChowderYou’ll most likely see a plate of Jeonbokjuk on every table after 3 a.m.

This small restaurant is a hidden gem for those Korean “Angelenos” who want to avoid the late night crowds. Located in a tiny strip mall, Mountain Café (a.k.a. Ssan) is a bit hard to find because its name is absent from the outside of the restaurant. Mountain Café is a mom-and-pop shop that can probably seat about twelve people (which is still pushing it) so avoid going here with large groups. But, if it’s just a few of you, Mountain Café is definitely a spot that you should check out.

Its specialties include Jeonbokjuk, stomach-soothing abalone porridge that Mountain Café likes to serve with an egg yolk on top, and Samgyetang, a soup that comes with ginseng and a whole chicken stuffed with rice in a hot stone pot.

Mountain Café
3064 W. 8th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 487-7615

5) Pho 2000 – Oxtail Pho

Pho 2000 - Oxtail Pho

Yes, Koreans can rock the pho out too! Remember, this is a Korean rendition of pho so Pho 2000 won’t have that authentic Vietnamese pho that you might be used to.

One favorite among customers is Pho 2000′s Oxtail Pho, a seolleongtang-inspired dish that comes with a steaming side bowl of tender oxtail meat. Pho 2000 is another popular go-to place for Koreans after a night of partying, so be ready for some crowds during the weekends. But don’t worry! Its huge bowls of pho come out fast, a feat that is especially appreciated by its hungry customers. After all, time spent waiting when inebriated always feels like an eternity.

Pho 2000
215 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Look out for our Top 5 Late-Night Eats: NYC Edition next month!

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Wesley Lieberher Takes Home KBBQ Cook-Off Trophy

Posted on 08 August 2011 by Audrey Yun-Suong

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In the heart of K-town, on Wilshire and Hobart, an epic Korean BBQ Cook-Off war was raging. As hungry locals waited in long lines to get a taste of the goods, the chefs took to their grills and began preparing. Restaurants such as Park’s BBQ, Palsaik and Don Dae Gam set up under cabanas along the street and sold plates of meat and banchan (side dishes). Beer Belly was there as well working the beer garden from their truck with convenient tap handles along the side with dark Stone IPA beers and lighter apple cider beers. If one contest wasn’t enough, the event also hosted a Choco Pie eating contest — which may have been a little too much for the crowd of full onlookers.

Chefs Pat Chung, Chris Oh, Hogan Lee, and Wesley Lieberher were the four contestants competing for the title. They presented their best to the panel of judges which included L.A. Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold, Heros actor James Kyson Lee and Simon Majumdar, a judge on The Next Iron Chef. In the end, it was Wesley Lieberher (executive chef at Beer Belly) who took home the trophy and showed everyone that non-Korean folks can cook Korean food just as good as Koreans do. We’d like to congratulate Wesley and Beer Belly on his win! Well deserved.

Some of Koreatown’s finest were also at the Cook-off…

Dumbfoundead and his crew.

Beats Per Mnet host Paul ‘PK‘ Kim (who MC’d the event) with Rick Lee (a.k.a Lyricks)

[Photo of Wesley: theREALbck on yfrog; 1st photo, Dumbfoundead/PK and Lyricks: Audrey Yun-Suong]

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Korean Food USA: Miss Korea

Posted on 26 July 2011 by Christine Y. Chung

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Korean Food USA is a new series that showcases Korean and Korean-inspired eateries all around the nation.

A fast and delicious Korean meal isn’t only available at food carts. At Miss Korea, there are Korean-style lunch boxes, a.k.a. dosiraks, with either your choice of kalbi, bulgogi, spicy pork, or marinated chicken available for just $10. However, Miss Korea’s lunchtime popularity requires ordering early to beat the crowd.

It’s a well-balanced meal, complete with assorted sides, including kimchi, salad, miso soup, a generous portion of rice, and a fried mandu. It’s clear that Korean BBQ isn’t the only dish that Miss Korea does well. The dosiraks are available for pick-up only, perfect for those super long lunch breaks and spontaneous picnics only possible during the summer.

Miss Korea
10 W 32nd Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 594-4963

[Photos: Brownie/Midtown Lunch]


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Top 5 AYCE Korean BBQ In LA

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Audrey Yun-Suong

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AYCE: All You Can Eat. Yes, as much as you want.

In the city of Angels there is a magical place called Koreatown where AYCE Korean BBQs are dishing out juicy, taste-bud-gripping meats all night long. With a KBBQ on every corner in Koreatown, the only problem Angelenos find themselves faced with is deciding which one to go to. No worries, Korea Beacon has got you covered. These 5 AYCE spots will definitely satisfy your meat cravings and, more importantly, leave you wishing there was a bed next to your table to cradle that post-KBBQ coma!

1. Road to Seoul

Road to Seoul will take you straight up the road to quality Korean BBQ heaven, and you’ll never want to leave. R2S has mastered all the usuals like kalbi and bulgogi, and has captured eaters’ hearts with their tender pork neck and beef tongue. They are also known for their consistent friendly and fast staff, as well as their loud club-esque music which draws in the younger crowd. The $17.99 option gets you as much of the 16 meat varieties, and the $19.99 adds on steak, shrimp and mushroom to that list. R2S is where the KBBQ party is at in K-town. That said, it tends to get pretty busy, so we advise you to call ahead and reserve a table.

Road to Seoul
1230 S Western Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 731-9292

2. Hae Jang Chon

Come hungry, leave busting at the seams. Before coming to Hae Jang Chon, you might want to practice ingesting large amounts of food. Recently voted as one of Southern California’s most delicious bargains by the LA Times, this place delivers quantity without skimping on the quality. For $16.99, you can get 13 different kinds of meat which are grilled on a traditional stone pot called a dolgooi. On top of the mounds of meat, they also give you kimchi pancakes, 4 different dipping sauces, and plenty of banchan and wraps. Once you’re all finished with the meat and you think you might need to loosen your belt, they bring out kimchi fried rice that comes out to a perfect crisp on the grill. And once you’ve finished that, and you think you might pass out, they plant a big shareable bowl of doenjang jjigae (bean paste soup). Finally, when all is done, a waiter brings you your check and you’ll suddenly realize that you might need help waddling out the door…

Hae Jang Chon
3821 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 389-8777

3. Gui Rim

Gui Rim is a solid go-to spot with all the basics you would require in a AYCE KBBQ. Choose from either option A ($13.99-14 meat choices), B ($17.99-21 meat choices) or C ($24.99- 28 meat choices) and start grilling your meat over real charcoals with gas. Make sure you check out their happy hour that takes about $4 off the A&B options everyday before 6pm! Unlike most KBBQ, Gui Rim serves their short ribs with bones attached instead of pre-cut. They also offer up a pork toro that will make you reconsider your current diet plan. At Gui Rim, you choose up to 3 plates of meat at a time and order again once a plate is finished. As always, a multitude of banchan and dduk (rice paper for wrapping) flood the table endlessly. Included in all the options is a bowl of doenjang jjigae and a bowl of naengmyeon in a spicy or cold broth.

Gui Rim
3977 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 387-5459

4. Oo-Kook

For a little bit more money, you can get a better quality meat at Oo-Kook. At $24.99 per person the price puts Oo-Kook on the high-end cost range of the AYCE places. However, the $8 up from the usual $16.99 AYCE places shows in the types of meat that they use: kobe beef, marinated kalbi, prime rib, and sometimes even shrimp! The meat choices are excellent here and some say they are higher quality than the other places. Unlike the usual red leaf lettuce salad at most AYCE places, Oo-Kook serves up the legit pa moochim (scallion salad). Unfortunately, they don’t have kimchi, but with all that kobe beef begging you to eat it, you might not even notice the absent kimchi.

3385 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005
(213) 385-5665

5. Choi Ga Nae

Choi Ga Nae is a no frills kind of place. Smaller and a bit more low-key than the average hustle and bustle found in the bigger KBBQ restaurants, they still serve great quality meat. AYCE ranges from $9.99 to $16.99 depending on the A/B option and whether or not it’s lunch or dinner. The chadol (thinly sliced brisket) and the marinated and non-marinated short rib (galbi sal & yang nyum galbi) are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the usual fall back item on the menu. They bring out the doenjang jjijae and steamed egg during the meal, and carry out the ice-cold naengmyeon at the finish, all of which are unlimited. Sorry regulars of Choi Ga Nae, hopefully all the AYCE’ers don’t flock to your spot now…we know you were trying to keep the place on the down low.

Choi Ga Nae
3916 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
(213) 382-8988

[First Photo: Angie Walton/CNN]

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Korean BBQ Cook-Off Looking for LA Grill Masters

Posted on 20 July 2011 by Christine Y. Chung

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The Korean American Coalition of Los Angeles (KACLA) is holding its third annual Korean BBQ Cook-Off this year, and the search is on for L.A.’s finest grillers. Aspiring grill masters are invited to an open audition on Saturday, June 23 at 9 am to show off their BBQ prowess. Participants need not be professional chefs, but anybody with a passion for Korean BBQ is encouraged to apply.

Contestants should bring a pre-cooked Korean BBQ inspired dish (meat/protein), and a complementary side dish. The top 4 chefs will move on to compete at the official Cook-Off on August 6th, where dishes will be presented to an exciting panel of celebrity judges including Dexter actor C.S. Lee, TasteSpotting’s Sarah Gim, and James Kyson Lee (Heroes). The winner will not only be awarded a cash prize, but also the glory of the title of “Top Grill Master.”

Korean BBQ Cook-Off Open Audition
9 a.m.- 1 p.m.
MaDang Courtyard (621 S. Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA)
For more info, go to: http://kbbqcookoff.com/

Those interested in volunteering at the Cook-Off are also welcome, with the only requirements being 18+ and attendance at an orientation held a week before. In addition to a delicious free meal, volunteers will also go home with their very own Korean BBQ T-shirt. The deadline to apply as a volunteer is July 26, and the application is available online.

[Photo: Kwirius Photography/KBBQCook-Off]

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Gwinnett County, Atlanta’s ‘New Koreatown’

Posted on 12 July 2011 by Christine Y. Chung

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The name ‘Ktown’ conjures up thoughts of cities like NYC and LA. However, a recent article by CNN blog Eatocracy suggests otherwise. Just in the last decade, Gwinnett County, a suburb of Atlanta, has seen its Korean population double, bringing the total number to about 22,001 (however the KAAGA puts the figure close to 80,000!). Why the South? Among other reasons such as affordable living costs and climate, similar moral values seem to be a particularly compelling factor.

Jay Eun, president of the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta (KAAGA) commented:

It’s the Southern hospitality. I think that’s what makes us want to live here. Koreans are very family-oriented people – we value family, just as they do here in the South. Also, the Bible Belt – the religious atmosphere of the South – is very appealing.

A look at Gwinnett County’s new strip mall and shopping complexes emphasizes the area’s strong Korean presence, with its scores of Korean businesses, from grocery stores to shops and restaurants. Despite the signs all being in Korean, the businesses—especially hair salons—are often frequented by just as many non-Koreans. With Korean food’s increasing popularity, bulgogi is a household name these days.

Michael Park, vice president of the KAAGA said:

For most non-Koreans, their first introduction to Korean culture is through food. This being the South, that encounter will most likely be Korean BBQ–an introduction that can be somewhat misleading, considering the Korean diet consists largely of fish and vegetables.

Food  is a potent means of bridging the gap, not only between the different members of the community, but between generations of Koreans. Perhaps the next few years will bring fame for other traditional Korean dishes, ending the BBQ reign.

[Photos: Angie Walton/CNN]

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Volunteer at KACLA’s 3rd Annual KBBQ Cook-Off!

Posted on 07 July 2011 by Melissah Yang

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The Korean American Coalition – Los Angeles (KACLA) is gearing up for its highly anticipated annual Korean BBQ Cook-off in L.A.’s Koreatown. This Cook-Off is like no other; in fact, it’s every meat-lover’s fantasy! On August 6th, all of the major Korean BBQ eateries in Koreatown will come together and showcase their culinary recipes and skills to the Los Angeles community. In one day and in one location, you can try all of the best Korean BBQ that K-town has to offer!

KACLA is currently looking for 100 volunteers, so please sign up to help! Volunteers must be 18+ and be available to attend the Volunteer Orientation the week before the event. Not only do you get to participate in one of the coolest food celebrations ever, all volunteers will receive a free meal and a commemorative Korean BBQ Cook-Off T-shirt!

To learn how you can sign up to be a volunteer, click here. Deadline to apply is July 26th.

For more information about the Cook-Off, check out KACLA’s website and Facebook.

[Photo: KACLA Website]

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