Saturday, February 21, 2015

Quarters Korean BBQ (Los Angeles, CA)

Quarters Korean Barbeque
3465 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Sat 02/21/2015, 06:30p-10:30p

Quarters Korean BBQ Exterior

One of the latest entrants to the high-end KBBQ game is the curiously-named Quarters, which debuted last November, apparently the work of a relative of the people behind the ever-popular Kang HoDong Baekjeong. In fact, the restaurant is located within spitting distance of Baekjeong, at the far edge of Chapman Plaza. As the name would imply, the conceit here is that meats are ordered in quarter-pound portions, "tapas" style. It may be a bastardization of the term, but the concept was at least interesting enough to warrant a visit.

Quarters Korean BBQ Interior
Quarters occupies the former home of The Gogi, My House, and Yi Ssi Hwa Ro, three not particularly well-regarded AYCE KBBQ places. The space has been updated a bit, with the patio out front spiffed up in particular (no grills there though, as it serves as more of a waiting area). Click for a larger version.

Quarters Korean BBQ Menu Quarters Korean BBQ Meat Menu Quarters Korean BBQ Combos Quarters Korean BBQ Cocktail List Quarters Korean BBQ Beer/Wine List
As for Quarters' menu, the small-sized portions of meat are joined by a number of other items more befitting of the moniker "tapas." Purchase five orders of meat, and you'll be gifted with the signature cheese fondue, kimchi or soybean stew, and steamed egg. Of course, there are combos as well, but I'm not sure if they'll actually save you money. There are also the so-called "Hang Over Combos," which included booze along with the food. Note, however, that in all cases, the staff does the cooking for you, which is par for the course at higher end joints like this. Meanwhile, drink-wise, you'll find a decent selection of beers (for KBBQ), an equally decent array of wines (for KBBQ), your typical Korean booze (soju and the like), and some semi-decent cocktails. Click for larger versions.

2015 Bottle Logic Tattered Prince 2014 Southern Tier Pumking
Giving the hour-plus wait we had to endure (no reservations are taken), we broke out a couple bottles in the patio--discreet BYOB style--to help pass the time. Up first was the 2015 Bottle Logic Tattered Prince, a saison brewed with Sorachi Ace hops, ginger, coriander, and orange zest. It was pretty good, with lots of spice and pear sweetness on the nose, the palate coming in crisp, bitter, slightly funky, and a tad metallic. We also tried the 2014 Southern Tier Pumking, despite it being out of season by this point. It was probably one of the better pumpkin beers I've had, smelling of sweet spice and grain and tasting of more pumpkin, spice, and a nutty, almost almond-like sugariness.

Korean BBQ Dipping Sauces
Condiments included a soy- and rice wine-based sauce with onion and jalapeño (I believe that's what it was), ssamjang, and salt-n-pepper with sesame oil.

Mul Kimchi
Water kimchi was refreshing, with a nice, not-too-spicy bite to it.

They don't serve a bunch of banchan here, but the ones they do have are solid, such as the tofu.

Sigeumchi Pajeon
I'm quite the fan of the pajeon, but I don't think I've ever encountered one so green, I think due to the incorporation of spinach. In any case, I found it quite to my liking.

Baechu Kimchi
Good ol' baechu kimchi was on point, natch.

2014 The Bruery Chronology:6
Moving on to our next beer, the 2014 The Bruery Chronology:6 was a strong ale aged for six months in bourbon barrels, the first in a chronologically aged series that will be released in six month intervals in order to give drinkers a glimpse at how the beer changes as it ages in oak. I found it reminiscent of the brewery's lauded Anniversary ales, with loads of rich toffee and brown sugar on the nose, and intense flavors of dark fruit, wood, and booze.

Garlic Green Beans
Green beans were delightfully crunchy, enrobed with garlicky goodness.

Gamja Saelleodeu
A gamja saelleodeu featuring sweet potato was a bit on the saccharine side for me, but that's to be expected given my disdain for the root vegetable.

Next up was what seemed to be a mash up between a scallion salad (pajori) and spicy shredded daikon (musaengchae). Regardless of what it was, I liked it, with the zestiness of the green onion pairing well with the heat of the radish.

And of course, we were provided with a more standard interpretation of salad as well.

Korean BBQ
Above we see our first order, comprising five different varieties of meat, a quarter-pound each. A glorious sight indeed.

Cheese Fondue
Given that we had five orders of "tapas," we were gifted with the restaurant's various freebies, starting with their odd cheese fondue, which we found Velveeta-like.

Egg Soup
The egg soup (gyeran jjim), meanwhile, was pretty spot on, coming out all fluffy and flavorful.

Assorted Vegetable Skewer
The assorted vegetable skewer was nice to look at, but didn't add too much to the experience.

2014 Beachwood Tovarish
Next to imbibe was the 2014 Beachwood Tovarish, a Russian imperial stout brewed with coffee beans from Portola Coffee Lab as well as blackstrap molasses. It was a prime example of an espresso stout, with the beer's inherent roasty, malty, and dark fruit qualities melding well with the bitter coffee notes present.

Beef Tongue
Beef Tongue
Beef Tongue
Beef Tongue [$9.25]
Getting into the actual gogi now, hyeo mit's always a welcomed way to start, and the cuts tonight were just what I wanted: slippery and slick, with a good bite and some deeply bovine flavors. Particularly tasty with a dab of the sesame.

Boneless Short Rib
Boneless Short Rib
Boneless Short Rib
Boneless Short Rib [$13.25]
Kkotsal arrived beautifully marbled and ate super tender, with a delicate flavor profile accented by a hint of smoky char.

Soy Bean Stew
Another freebie, the doenjang jjigae (soy bean stew) did a commendable job showing off the earthy flavors of soybean paste, all set against the mild blocks of tofu present.

Kimchi Stew
We also tried the other option, a prototypical presentation of the staple kimchi jjigae.

Beef Brisket
Beef Brisket
Beef Brisket
Beef Brisket [$8.25]
Chadol bagi didn't disappoint either, giving us some surprisingly deep, beefy flavors.

2014 The Bruery Preservation Series: Oaked Old Richland
The 2014 The Bruery Preservation Series: Oaked Old Richland was an American-style barleywine, dry hopped with Simcoe, Centennial, and Sterling hops then aged on oak for a few weeks. I found this super hoppy on the nose, while the palate was all about hints of wood and that malty, caramel-laced backbone, which lent a sense of balance to the beer. Almost IPA-like.

Pork Belly
Pork Belly
Pork Belly
Pork Belly [$7.75]
Sangeopsal came thick cut and richly-flavored, with a mouth-wateringly piggy savor that worked beautifully with a hit of bitter char. Great with a bit of grilled kimchi.

Pork Jowl
Pork Jowl
Pork Jowl
Pork Jowl [$7.75]
The hangjunsal, meanwhile, was even more intense, a super fatty, gelatinous, yet somehow "crunchy" cut that was unmistakably porcine.

Korean Nachos
Korean Nachos [$7.75] | Marinated short rib, sauteed kimchi, melted cheese, sour cream, chopped onion & cilantro, Quarters hot sauce
Korean-style nachos didn't strike me as particularly Korean, but they were tasty and just slutty enough, with the flavors coming together in classic nacho fashion.

Seafood and Green Onion Pancake
Seafood and Green Onion Pancake [$9.75]
I'm a sucker for haemul pajeon, and Quarters' version was enjoyable, though I would've liked some more substantial textures here from the various items of seafood.

2013 Alpine Chez Monieux
Unlike the similarly-monikered Chez Monus, the 2013 Alpine Chez Monieux has never really gotten much love in beer circles. As such, I must've gotten a good bottle or something, because I quite enjoyed the sour, a Belgian-style, wine barrel-aged kriek. I got lots of barnyard funkiness up front in the aroma, commingled with vinegar, while on the palate, there was a good amount of cherry sweetness, tartness, more funk, and a pleasant, puckering acidity.

Spicy Pork Collar
Spicy Pork Collar
Spicy Pork Collar
Spicy Pork Collar [$10.75]
Maeun moksal came out slathered in a wicked shade of red, with the cut giving up some of the most intense flavors of the night, a commingling of porcine, spicy, and sweet notes in a fatty, gratifying package. Interestingly, our server (Irene) recommended that we utilize the cheese dip for this one; I still wasn't sold.

Beef Tartare
Beef Tartare [$15.25] | Fresh beef marinated with soy sauce and pear
Yukhoe came out too cold unfortunately, which muted some of the flavors, but the dish was still enjoyable, with the meat well accompanied by contrasting sweet and spicy flavors.

Rib Eye
Rib Eye
Rib Eye
Rib Eye [$17.50]
The kkot deungsim was a nice looking specimen, and cooked up real juicy and tender, with a well-placed bit of charring to even it out.

2014 Logsdon Straffe Drieling
We ended on a lighter note with the final beer, the 2014 Logsdon Straffe Drieling, a farmhouse-style tripel brewed with spices. I enjoyed it, with its aromatic, almost tea-like nose leading to a refreshingly bitter, biting, earthy-yet-spicy sensation on the tongue.

Seasoned Boneless Short Rib
Seasoned Boneless Short Rib
Seasoned Boneless Short Rib
Seasoned Boneless Short Rib [$13.25]
Our final meat was arguably my favorite of the bunch. The jumulleok was all that you'd want in gogigui: a masterful blend of juiciness, tenderness, and beefiness, enhanced by the undeniably potent seasoning going on.

I was a bit skeptical about Quarters going in, but I think we all left duly impressed. Certainly, I found it to be one of the best Korean barbecue meals I've had, and I'd place the meat quality roughly on par with what's available across the way at Kang Hodong. The service was even better than Baekjeong's, and the vibe a bit more sedate. Combined with the menu format and a better beverage program, it's a more approachable, "complete" experience overall. Fans of the KBBQ will want to check this place out for sure.


Blogger Charlie Fu said...

The chez monieux got no love cause the yeast went bad in a lot of bottles. Sounds like yours might be heading that directions well but not quite there yet, the vinegar nose gets really off putting on it and turns into this weird blue cheese vinegar blend. Really badly infected beer.

Chez Monus and Kiwi Herman on the other hand are redonkulous level delicious sours.

Friday, March 27, 2015 3:38:00 PM  

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