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Soot Bull Jeep or Park's Bbq?

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Hi, I'm visiting LA and am craving Korean Bbq. I'm staying in WeHo and would like to make a trip out to ktown. After researching this board, the 2 restaurants that stand out are Soot Bull Jeep (love the idea of charcoal grilled meats) and Park's Bbq (love the idea it's "to die for"). There are 2 of us and we're planning to go on Monday. We just moved to NYC so I'm aware there is good Korean bbq there too but haven't been yet. Our last day in LA is Tues. so we'll only be able to hit one place. Oh, and I used to live in Northern VA where there were good Korean BBQs so I'm not a virgin to it but my bf has only tried it once. Given all that, where do you recommend and what should we definitely order? Or is there another restaurant you'd recommend over the ones I mentioned? Also any tips such as..."at Park, make sure you ask for __ panchan b/c they may not bring it". Thanks hounds, you guys are great!

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  1. I have never been to Park, but I believe they specialize in pork. I have been to Soot Bull Jeep many times and have always enjoyed it. Everyone we bring there enjoys it too. You do come out smelling like charcoal, but it is worth it and it is reasonably priced. We usually get short ribs and the other beef, but we just tried the chickent and it was good. We had the tongue once and it was just okay, it would have been better if it was marinated. You can get all the panchan you want, just ask for more.

    4 Replies
    1. re: paprkutr

      I think the quality of Park's meat is probably better and I think it has better panchan, but it is more expensive I think. Soot Bull Jeep has great kalbi ribs, make sure you get those, and a yummy sweet dipping sauce. Park's is more upscale/hipster than Soot Bull Jeep, but Soot Bull Jeep has a cozy and bustley atmosphere.

      1. re: noshie

        Good comparison, noshie.

        Park's -

        We went to Park's last night, and got the galbi and the bulgogi (I know, boring). The bulgogi is a huge portion, like over a pound of meat. It's marinated well and freshly sliced. You get far less galbi, but it's also high quality, and you still get a nice sized portion.

        We also got the cold neng myun soup. It is a welcome refresher after all that meat. But the small bowl is huge, like a quart and a half of noodles and soup.

        The service at Park's is FULL. They're a little slow to take the order, and then there's a slight lull and you hope they haven't forgotten about you. But when the food comes, they swarm you and attend to every need. They mind the barbecue, making sure they cut the meat to smaller pieces that are more easily eaten, they turn it for you (we actually prefer to cook our own, but it's a nice gesture), they manage the number of dishes on the table, and they continually ask if you need anything further.

        If you like the lettuce wraps for the bulgogi, you have to ask for them. But the panchan is abundant and high quality. You don't have to ask for the panchan

        It's about $23 per meat dish and $8 for the neng myun. They don't charge for the lettuce wrap setup.

        Park's is open, clean and relatively light. But beware: sometimes it gets quite crowded. We always go for an early dinner to avoid a wait. But don't let that stop you. It's a very good place.

        Soot Bull Jeep -

        We've been to SBJ a few times, and since it's not so recent I can't accurately give you a play-by-play like I did for Park's. But I remember it to be like noshie says above. As I remember, the last time we went there, we left thinking the restaurant itself was a little grimy for our taste. They ought to close for a week and scrub in the corners.

        It's quite dark inside, with dark woods, and VERY smoky. But I remember the food to be good.

        Chosun Galbi -

        sungscow was right to point this out as another option. It's much larger than the other places, but they still manage to pack em in. It's a busy place. Lots of servers running around. It's bright inside, and clean. The quality of the meat is good, on par with Park's. I think the panchan is better at Park's.

        This may be a good place to take your boyfriend, as it's the most Americanized of the three. The most Americanized in town is Woo Lae Oak, which some actually consider Korean fusion instead of Korean.

        When my non-Korean grandmother came to town, we took her to Chosun Galbi and she loved it. I'm sure she would not have cared for Soot Bull Jeep. She would probably have liked Park's.

        1. re: lil mikey

          my two cents... the american husband has been to all three. his favorite is chosun as the panchan there is best. my favorite is park's. i agree with husband that the panchan is better at chosun but, i like the meat and the charcoal/gas grill better than chosun's pure gas and i do think that the meat is better at park's. however, husband thinks the quality of meat is the same between the two.
          soot bull jeep was not very appealing to either of us. the panchan was ok. the meat quality was ok. we left smelling aweful. it was just an ok experience. i wouldn't object to going back if someone insisted on going there but, would recommend the others before soot bull jeep.

          1. re: banquisha

            Don't you realize that the "smell" you leave with is part of the charm of Soot Bull Jeep? Consider it a gratis souvenir.

    2. i always thought park's was very overrated (hardly "to die for").. and soot bull jeep, while good, is a bit dingy.. if you can only have korean bbq one time while in la, go for the overall package and go to chosun galbee.. the distinct ambiance and better quality of meat (vs. AYCE) are enough to make it a memorable experience.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sungscow

        I have not been to Park's as yet. I agree with all said by sungscow. I was recently at Soot Bull Jeep because of how highly it was touted by CH and friends of mine (Korean) as well, and I'm not saying it isn't good but it is DEFINITELY dingy. After being spoiled many times by good friends (who happen to be Korean) at Chosun Galbee, I was just a bit disappointed by SBJ. Also, some of the meat pieces had a gamy smell to me. No one else detected it so I kept it to myself. Their panchan is good though. In fact, I liked their kimchee much better than Chosun Galbee's and though I love strong spicy kimchee, it isn't a deal breaker for me because CG has a great panchan assortment. You will be very impressed by the restaurant's decor. It is very sleek, clean, contemporary and comfortable. I don't care that they don't use charcoal. I like the salad they give you too! They waitresses are just a little over zealous when it comes to turning your meat.

      2. Park's.

        13 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          what he said

          1. re: andytseng

            she said

            Park's is the only game in town for kobe beef bbq. It's $30 for a plate, but great stuff. Just don't overcook it.

            Mr Taster

          2. re: ipsedixit

            I agree. I've always thought SBJ was overrated. And Park's uses charcoal as well.

            1. re: sku

              I don't think SBJ is overrated. Their meat is consistently flavorful, juicy and tasty, and at a more affordable price than others in town (though their $16 generous plates of meat have gone up to $20, so not as good a deal as before). And the charcoal at SBJ is unmatched anywhere else in town, including Parks, Tahoe Galbi, etc where the charcoal is way down in the pit, barely imparting the smokiness into the meat. At SBJ the smoke is full-on, getting into your eyes, your clothes, and every cell of that juicy bbq. All of that make SBJ the only game in town for real charcoal flavor. It just ain't Kobe-style beef.

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster

                It's smoky, that's for sure. I've just never been impressed with SBJ's meat. It's not the kobe; I much prefer the kalbi at Park's as well as other beef dishes.

                1. re: sku

                  Coincidentally, I've taken the same work-related (and CHEAP) mixed crowd to both SBJ and Park's.

                  The SBJ trip was pretty underwhelming for them... I got some feedback that it was too expensive for the money, especially when not just smoke but floating sparks are flying around in your face. (And as everyone else here has said, it is pretty dark in there...)

                  But the same group totally *loved* Park's, which I was surprised about since it is more expensive. I don't think it was the yuppier atmosphere that won the day. Rather, the meat there just stands out as *that* good (and I agree). Get the Kobe beef and at least one of the Pork dishes from the top of the list and you won't be dissapointed.

                  SBJ might be good for an 'adventure'... but for the better food I would go with Park's.

                  1. re: theonceler

                    I don't think anyone here is arguing that SBJ's meat is better than Park's. That's a non-starter. However SBJ's lower price, delicious marinades, and intense charcoal smokiness (which again, not even Park's comes close to matching) makes SBJ a destination in its own right.

                    As for the "inconvenient" aspects of SBJ, I say... if you can't stand the heat, smoke and sparks, get out of SBJ ;)

                    Mr Taster

                2. re: Mr Taster

                  Agree with Mr Taster.

                  To prefer Parks over Soot Bull Jeep says more about Parks and its amazing meats esp the Pork X than it does anything negative about Soot Bull Jeep.

                  In fact, prior to discovering Parks Soot Bull Jeep was my go-to place for Korean BBQ. In many ways Soot Bull Jeep is primordeal BBQ, sort of what Conan the Barbarian would want in a Korean BBQ joint. No atmosphere, no ambiance, no feigned sense of civility - just unadulterated meat (and offal) and charcoal so pure and smoky as to make Mount Vesuvius blush.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    And don't forget Conan's predilection for arms and armor, which inexplicably adorn the walls of SBJ

                    Mr Taster

              2. re: ipsedixit

                Park's indeed. If nothing else, you won't smell as strongly like a forest fire when you leave.

                The Kobe/wagyu beef and the Pork X are the things to get. You will need to ask for rice, lettuce and ssamjang if you want them.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  what is this "ssamjang" you speak of?

                  1. re: ns1

                    ssamjang is the spicy soybean/chili paste.

                    1. re: wilafur

                      ah thanks. doesn't really do it for me tho....but all this talk about parks makes me want some #3, brisket, and spicy buckwheat noodles.

              3. i love park's

                their panchan is great, as are the cold spicy buckwheat noodles.

                #3 marinated shortribs are killer.

                <3 full service kbbq. We used to like cooking it ourselves, but having other people cook for you is so much more awesome.

                1. If you can, I say do both on successive night. They are night and day to each other. Park is very clean, bright and a bit on the fancy side. Their kobe style steak is unbelievable. It's like butta. On the other hand, Soot Bull Jeep is dingy, smokey and a bit scary but it's an unique and unforgettable experience. I went to Soot on a Thursday and then Park on a Sunday and I couldn't pick one over the other if I tried.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ExtraCheesePlease

                    Amen. But I would make it a Trinity with ChoSun.

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      Yes!