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Apr 13, 2009 02:55 PM

Korean supermarkets for galbi?

Hi, I hosted a party on Saturday for 40 people and planned on making galbi (Korean beef ribs in a sweet pear-based marinade) as the main dish. The night before I was in a panic because I hadn't found enough meat at the regular markets and didn't have time to drive to SGV, but at 10 pm I stumbled upon the California Market on Western and 5th in Ktown. There was almost TOO MUCH to choose from: of the premarinated meat they had both bone-in and boneless (either for $2.99 per pound), and of the non-marinated they had various cuts, some with bone, some without, for anywhere from about $2.00 / lb. up to $10.00/lb and upwards. I ended up getting a few kinds of meat and some premarinated and some with another marinade I had picked up... I had meant to compare it all so I'd know for next time, but in the end it all kindof got mixed together so I have no idea how the meats and marinade compared. Fortunately everyone ate it all and was raving about it so I guess it was all good. And it being pretty inexpensive and easy, quick to BBQ, I'm definately serving it again at another party.

But I just had some questions I thought I'd throw out to the experts, so I know for next time:

How does the California Market compare to other Korean markets for galbi and/or bulgogi? Any other markets i should check out?

What's the best cut meat to get for galbi and/or bulgogi? There were like 10 to choose from. Is the $2.99 meat just as good as the $7 or $8 per pound meat, or are the more expensive cuts worth the price difference?

Do you get pre-marinated meat? If so, do you get bone in or bone out? If not, is there a certain brand or recipe of marinade that's your favorite?

Any other tips for preparing galbi or bulgogi? I meant to add sesame seeds, chopped green onion and regular onion but ran out of time.

Oh, and does CA Market have, or if not does anyone know where, I could pick up some good premade chap jae (glass noodle dish)? That would be a great side dish to serve along with the meat.


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  1. I'm not the greatest expert, but I do love serving Korean BBQ at many of my house parties. Have you tried HK Supermarket in Korea Town? It's on Western and 1st. They also sell pre-made marinade so if you're ever in a time crunch - it's a great way to go. I always order the bone-in beef ribs as it is tastier and I use the pre-made marinade about 2-4 hours prior to BBQing. HK also has all the other goodies that go along with a great Korean meal so make sure to check it out sometime.

    1. I live in Orange County so the Place I go to is HMart. It is a Korean Supermarket very similar to 99 Ranch but smaller. I never buy the pre-marinated stuff because sometimes I don't know how long it's been marinating. So I buy the bone in short ribs and marinade. The marinade I go with is called Chungjungwon Kalbi Marinade. Very tasty stuff. It is the pear based marinade.

      1. In Koreatown, the supermarkets in Koreatown Plaza mall (Wester/James Wood?) and Galleria mall (Western/Olympic) probably have a little better quality meat than California Market IMHO. The former Mitsuwa in Little Tokyo (now a Korean market) also seems to have good quality meat.

        Galbi is short rib; bulgogi is usually ribeye.

        I think the more expensive cuts are usually to be cooked without marinade, so you can better taste the quality.

        I find the premarinated meat tends to be somewhat fattier than some of the non-marinated stuff. Bone-in tastes better, I think.

        Using sesame oil works better than just sesame seeds alone.

        All of the Korean markets will usually have premade chapjae. However, it is prepared daily and is usually gone by the end of the day.

        1. Thanks you guys! You're the best.... knew I could count on CH for good advice!

          I went to HK Market to compare it to California Market and found the meat prices to be about the same (the range is from about $2.99 - to about $15.99/lb). The color of the marinated meat looked off so I passed on that. The $2.99 bone-in, non-marinated short rib looked really good, but the smallest package was about 4-5 lbs., which was too much for me to sample with my toddler. Instead we went to their seafood counter and got a small black cod and some clams. The seafood counter was sizeable and more akin to a Chinese market than a regular market, although the prices were about 25% more than an SGV market would have been (but still less than a normal chain.) They cleaned and cut the cod for us, which was nice. I also got a few mild bimibap dishes to sample, which were only about $2.00 each: wasn't crazy about the squash pancake, the chap jae and bulgogi were just ok but I loved the potato salad!! The price per pound was more than the galbi -- go figure. I also got a bottle of the galbi marinage recommended by jaytizzle, looking forward to trying that sometime. Also got a bottle of pomegranite wine that looked interesting! So I ended up spending over $50 to sample all this stuff! Got way too much food and am OD-ing on Korean food! But still looking forward to checking out the Galleria market!!!

          Parked, thanks for the distinction b/w galbi and bulgogi. I've found I tend to prefer the galbi and you're all right -- the bone in does tend to taste better. I had no idea that Mitsuwa is now a Korean market -- when did that happen? Is it still Mitsuwa or is it another name?

          So I guess the way to go for galbi is with the non-marinated short rib at $2.99 /lb, using that Chungjungwon marinade, onion, green onion, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Sounds like a great plan.

          Thanks again!

          2 Replies
          1. re: chowmominLA

            Glad I can help with the marinade. That's the only one I use and I love it. Try not to use too much seasame oil because the marinade is very flavorful already and the seasame oil might over power everything.

            1. re: Jaytizzle

              Agree with the advice to be sparing with the sesame oil, especially if it's good quality (there are certain places that sell homemade sesame oil that are $15-20/bottle, but the taste is phenomenal). Better to go light and then use sesame oil mixed with good salt and pepper as the dipping sauce.

              Also, pretty much every Korean recipe for those marinades calls for garlic. Many also call for mirin or rice wine. There are endless variations--I sometimes like used crushed Asian pears, other times soda or beer. It's all a matter of taste, but basically, the better the quality of the meat, the less you will want to marinade, like most meat.

              Reg. chowmominLA's earlier comments: the prices for almost all the K-town markets are pretty similar in range, with the one in K-town Plaza (on Western about 1-2 blocks north of Olympic) probably the most expensive. Then again, it's probably the cleanest and most upscale in terms of quality (I usually measure this by the quality of their produce; others may disagree).

              Galleria Market is almost as clean and nice, and is larger. If you want to experiment with Korean food, they have a very extensive banchan (side dish) bar, where you can serve yourself. Most of the other markets have it prepackaged whereas Galleria lets you buy like sub-$1 quantities (my wife does this all the time).

              I think the Little Tokyo Mitsuwa closed in Feb? March? and the Korean market opened shortly after, operating on a limited basis while ramping up for a full-scale launch in May the last time I asked. It seems like they have kept some of the sushi/lunch box making people, the bakery, and perhaps some of the meat staff as well, but I didn't go there enough to be sure.

          2. Thanks so much! I wanted to report back that I went to Galleria Market and think this is my favorite of the three. It was bigger, cleaner and the prices were in line with the other two places (HK and California.) Plus, it's closer to 10 so more convenient for me. I was in a rush so I spent all of ten or 15 minutes literally running in and out, but saw they had really good looking sliced beef rib for $3.50/lb. They also had sliced beef rib for $4.00/lb that looked identical to the color and fattiness of the other meat -- I asked someone and learned that the only difference is the thickness of the cut (the thinner sliced beef is less expensive.) So I opted for the thinner sliced beef. I used the Chung Jung Won galbi marinade recommended by Jaytizzle. At least I think that's it. The label doesn't have the name in English but think the price tag on the shelf said that name. Anyway it's a red bottle with brown writing and has a picture of a pear on it. Even though I only had it marinade for about a 1/2 hour before cooking, and even though I cooked it the lazy way (broiled in the oven for about 3 minutes on each side) and even though I didn't do anything else to it besides add a little sesame seed and serve it on rice, I must say it was delicious, and as good as I've had it any any Korean restaurant (my favorite place for galbi is Parks or Tofu-Ya and this tasted just as good) for about 1/4 the price! Now I'm not Korean and not exactly a connoisseur when it comes to Korean food but I was thrilled with the way it turned out.. So happy to find a dish that is inexpensive, not too hard to shop for (as opposed to driving out to SGV for Chinese groceries), really a cinch to cook and so delicious! The only downside is that it's kinda fattening and the marinade has MSG, but until I can make my own marinade this will have to do.

            Anyway, thanks for the tips!

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowmominLA

              For what it's worth, the Little Tokyo Galleria (the Korean market in the former Mitsuwa) has sliced angus galbi for $1.89/lb (normally $4.99 pound, limit 10 lbs). It looks a little fattier than they normally have, but still looks good. 21/25 count fresh black tiger shrimp from India (had no idea India was a shrimp exporter) for $4/lb as well.

              I won't be able to comment on the quality of either until later tonite.