Friday, May 27, 2016

Soowon Galbi (Los Angeles, CA)

Soo Won Galbi Korean B.B.Q Restaurant
856 S Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005
Fri 05/27/2016, 08:00p-10:10p

Soowon Galbi Exterior

I'm pretty sure that Soowon Galbi's one of Koreatown's longest-standing KBBQ restaurants, and it's certainly one that comes up often when talking about the top places. It was named after the city of Suwon (known for its galbi), and apparently first opened in 1986, though I don't know with what name exactly. As far as I can tell, sometime before 2000, it switched from gas-fired grills to charcoal, acquired new ownership, and changed its name to Soo Won Sutbul Galbi. In 2005, there was another ownership change, and another name change to LA Soowon Galbi. In 2008, the restaurant changed hands once again (to one Sooyeon Lim it seems), and subsequently dropped the "LA" from its moniker, and thus here we are today.

Soowon Galbi Interior
The place was remodeled in mid-2008 after the ownership change and is definitely darker, sleeker than most KBBQ joints in town (the photo above doesn't really convey how dim the restaurant is at night).

Soowon Galbi Menu: Appetizer Soowon Galbi Menu: Table Top B.B.Q Soowon Galbi Menu: Lunch Special Soowon Galbi Menu: Combo Special Soowon Galbi Menu: Korean Dishes Soowon Galbi Menu: Korean Dishes (cont.) & Noodles Soowon Galbi Beverage List Soowon Galbi Wine List
Menu-wise, you get a full array of meats, available both à la carte and in combo form (we had the "D"), and there's a nice selection of other dishes to go along as well. In terms of beverages, you'll find a small wine list and your typical beers, soju, and other Korean drinks. Corkage is advertised at $15 a pop. Click for larger versions.

2016 Civil Society Sauvin Blanc
I had a few beers along with me tonight, and first was a crowler of the 2016 Civil Society Sauvin Blanc, a saison hopped with Nelson Sauvin. It was lovely: deliciously floral and hoppy on the nose, while the palate gave up a core of floral, fruit flavors and spice, with a bitterness overarching.

The salad was refreshing, with its crisp shards of lettuce perked up by red onion and a sweet-tart-spicy dressing.

Brisket Sauce & Sesame Sauce
Default condiments were "chadol" sauce (the now-ubiquitous soy-based one with garlic and jalapeños, an LA invention from what I understand) and a classic sesame sauce (sesame oil, salt, pepper).

Chadol Gui (Raw)
Chadol Gui (Cooking)
Chadol Gui | Thin slices of beef brisket.
We always seem to start with good ol' chadol bagi, and Soowon's was a representative example of the cut, one that took on a nice char to it.

Rice Paper
The tteok rice paper wraps, which also originated in LA I think.

Baechu Kimchi
Of course, you gotta have baechu kimchi.

Seng Deung Shim (Raw)
Seng Deung Shim (Cooking)
Seng Deung Shim | Prime beef rib eye steak.
The deungsim came out tender and juicy, with a relatively restrained flavor profile.

Pickled Shredded Mu
Shredded, pickled mu radish.

The spinach had a welcomed bitterness to it.

Kkot Sal (Raw)
Kkot Sal (Cooking)
Kkot Sal | Beautifully marbled, boneless sliced prime beef short ribs.
The kkotsal was as supple and as juicy as you'd expect, with a delicate taste that matched well with its smoke and char.

2016 Beachwood Blendery Propagation Series: No. 064
Our next beer was a Berliner-style ale with puffed jasmine rice, Brett, and Lacto, the 2016 Beachwood Blendery Propagation Series: No. 064. Light and tart on the nose, while the taste went sweet-and-sour, with a strong graininess to it and lots of lemon on the back end.

Tteok Banchan
I'm not quite sure what this one, some sort of tteok I imagine due to its slipperiness.

Potato Salad
The potato salad was a touch sweet for me, and also lacking in texture.

Seng Galbi (Raw)
Seng Galbi (Cooking)
Seng Galbi (Finished)
Seng Galbi | Unseasoned, large prime beef short ribs.
Unmarinated saeng galbi hit the mark, a tender, fatty cut that was heightened by a dip in your choice of condiment.

I failed to sample this particular banchan, but it looks to be some sort of pajeon, perhaps with some gaenip incorporated.

Kimchi Bokkeumbap
Kimchi Bokkeumbap [$12.00] | Kimchi Fried Rice. Rice fried with finely chopped kimchi.
The kimchi fried rice was about what you'd expect, with a welcomed funk and spice to it.

Joomulluk (Raw)
Joomulluk (Cooking)
Joomulluk | Sliced boneless prime beef short rib seasoned with sesame oil, salt and pepper.
Jumulleok delivered as well with its mix of sweet, savory flavors, char, and chew.

Beoseot (mushrooms) made for an uncommon banchan around these parts.

Soowon Wang Galbi (Raw)
Soowon Wang Galbi (Cooking)
Soowon Wang Galbi (Finished)
Soowon Wang Galbi | Our house specialty, large prime beef short ribs marinated for 48 hrs in our signature marinade.
Soowon's signature yangnyeom galbi didn't disappoint, a tender, flavorful cut with a deft mix of sweet 'n' savory notes.

2016 Phantom Carriage Muis with Centennial
Last to drink was the 2016 Phantom Carriage Muis with Centennial, a 100% Brett-fermented Belgian blonde hopped with Centennial. Very nice: floral and fruity on the nose, with light but apparent hops. More hoppy, herbal bitterness appeared on the palate, joined by tropical/floral notes and subtle earth.

Cheonsachae (kelp noodle) was crunchy and creamy.

Haemul Pajeon
Haemul Pajeon [$18.00] | Korean seafood pancake with baby shrimp, octopus, squid calamari, scallops and green onions.
Haemul pajeon is one of my go-to dishes, and I quite enjoyed Soowon's, which had a more apparent egginess than most, along with a good cook on the various items of seafood and a great zippiness from the green onion.

Bulgogi (Raw)
Bulgogi (Cooking)
Bulgogi | Sliced boneless short rib eye in our signature house marinade.
The bulgogi was a classic prep: soft, sweet, straightforward.

I don't recall this particular banchan. Eomuk perhaps?

Hyuhmit Gui (Raw)
Hyuhmit Gui (Cooking)
Hyuhmit Gui | Thin slices of beef tongue.
At this point we were done with the combo meats, so we ordered up some hyeo mit, a particularly chewy, especially beefy example.

Oi Kimchi
Cucumber oi kimchi had all the crunchiness that you'd want.

Doenjang Jjigae
Doenjang Jjigae | Soybean paste stew with tofu, assorted vegetables and thin slices of beef in a sizzling stone pot.
The combos come with your choice of stew, and this doenjang-enhanced version seemed funkier and spicier than usual. Nice counterpoint from the veggies here.

Hang Jung Sal (Raw)
Hang Jung Sal (Cooking)
Hang Jung Sal | Sliced pork neck, well-muscled with a crunchier texture and less fat than pork belly.
Hanjeongsal's my fav cut of pork currently, and Soowon's was spot on. Think super porky, snappy, crunchy, with some great char astringency.

Soowon pretty much lived up to its reputation as one of the top KBBQ places in town. The meat quality was by and large very good, and service was on point to boot. Another one to add to your list if you haven't already been.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin has the face of someone you just want to punch. You know that rat face. Plus he tips like Jewish donkey.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 3:06:00 AM  
Anonymous ttn said...

@Anonymous -- trolls like you who leave asinine comments should be punched in the face. WTF does tipping like a "Jewish donkey" even mean? Is that intended to be some sort of anti-semitic rhetoric?

Thursday, June 23, 2016 1:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin-You know your blog is awesome when you have dumbasses trolling it. You have hit the big time when losers start commenting. "Jewish Donkey?" what a shit bag.

Thursday, June 23, 2016 2:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cindy said...

how many can combo d feed?

Thursday, June 23, 2016 7:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoah anon #1 no need for anti Semitic comments man he tips what he tips. It's not your business anyway

Saturday, June 25, 2016 7:07:00 AM  

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