Gwang Yang BBQ (Los Angeles, June 2022)


Alright: back to Los Angeles. On our trip in December we somehow managed to not eat in Koreatown, something that would have been unthinkable, and indeed downright impossible in the past when Koreatown was our home base. But in December we ate Korean food instead at the smaller Korean enclave of Garden Grove, south of Seal Beach. Those meals were good but we could resist the siren call of Koreatown only so long. The boys wanted to eat bbq and we wanted a location somewhat central’ish between us and friends in Pasadena and so it was to Koreatown we went, to Gwang Yang BBQ.

Gwang Yang is one of the newer (relatively speaking), upscale bbq places in Koreatown. They are the sole US branch of a Seoul group and serve only prime beef. One of their calling cards is their Gwan Yang or Gangnam-style bulgogi, a lightly marinated version of the cut that is not usually seen as a headliner in most places. The restaurant is large with both regular tables and several enclosed, so-called VIP rooms. I say so-called because we were put in one of those by default, perhaps because we were a party of six. The main dining room was on the empty side when we were there—early on a Sunday evening—but the VIP rooms seemed busy.

We ordered some beer and got down to the business of ordering. We were four adults and our boys. We got their large beef combo, which comprises thinly sliced brisket, unmarinated short rib and some of that aforementioned bulgogi. We added on an order of pork belly and to end, four small bowls of mul naeng myun. Small, as you will see in the pictures, is a bit of a misnomer. The combo also includes steamed egg and the choice of kimchi jigae (stew) and donjang jigae (soybean paste stew). Either out of kindness or confusion they gave us both stews.

The food was uniformly excellent. The meats were indeed of a very good quality and the bulgogi was as good as advertised. The mul naeng myun—which, I have to admit, is always my favourite part of a Korean bbq meal—was also very good. If I had to complain it would be about the banchan selection which is both limited and included nothing very notable. Their even more upscale competition, Park’s, is apparently much better in this regard as well.

For a look at the restaurant and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much all of this cost and to see what’s coming next from Los Angeles.

As I said, this is not one of the more affordable Korean bbq places in Koreatown. All of the above came to about $440 with tax and tip. Keep in mind that we didn’t actually order so very much meat. But also keep in mind that the total includes what turned out to be a pricey bottle of red wine. This due to some confusion. One of our friends wanted to drink red wine instead of beer and what showed up was an entire bottle (turns out they don’t serve wine by the glass).

Service? Staff members grill your meat for you—I assume this happens whether you’re in a VIP room or not. The two people who took care of us were very good. On the whole, I would recommend Gwang Yang if you’re looking for a fancier Korean bbq place and don’t mind paying a bit more. Though I have to admit I’m not sure if I liked it so very much more than our old favourite, Chosun Galbee—or to put it another way, I’m not sure if the amount I liked it more is proportionate to how much more expensive it is. Then again, we also haven’t eaten at Chosun Galbee in a long time and they’re probably more pricey now too. On our next trip we’re thinking we might finally unlock our wallets at Park’s.

Okay, only two reports remain from the Los Angeles trip: one more sushi meal and one more dim sum meal. I think I’ll do the sushi first. That’ll be in a week. Before that there’ll be the first of my reports from Kauai and a return to Alma in Minneapolis. And whisky reviews and a recipe in between.


 

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