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May 5, 2013 03:51 PM

Best Korean BBQ

Had my first Korean BBQ last week at a place that friends picked at random. It was an all-you-can-eat place and the food was decent--though much more meat than I usually eat. $19.99 and we didn't ask for more than they brought first time around.

Any Korean place, bbq or not, that you consider great?

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  1. Been to Korean Del on Midway a couple times, had the Bibimap. I know, spelink.

    I wouldn't know if it's authentic, but I enjoyed the dish both times.

    Also been to Do Rei Mi on Clairmont Mesa Blvd a couple times, also enjoyed it. Heck, they could be feeding me something other than Korean and I wouldn't know.

    Pic from Korean Deli:

    1. Dae Jang Keum, followed closely by Chon Ju Jip and Friends House.

      If you insist on AYCE, there's Manna. Like the McDonald's of Korean BBQ.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I wasn't looking for AYCE, that's what my friends chose--that is never something I choose no matter the cuisine. Any particular dishes you would recommend at Dae Jang Keum for someone who is not a lover of unusual organ meats or the like?

        1. re: escondido123

          For BBQ you can't go wrong with the bulgogi, any of their galbi dishes or the spamgyeopsal.

          For non BBQ I would recommend the seafood pancake or the braised cod casserole.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          +1 on DJK. Didn't really like the others...

          1. re: ipsedixit

            Thanks, think we will check it out for lunch and not BBQ.

          2. I haven't had any truly excellent Korean food in California outside San Francisco.

            If you're willing to step a notch or two down (no choice really), I have to say I like Waldimo on Convoy. Pretty good and very affordable -- good value. They have some tasty Japanese things, too.

            23 Replies
            1. re: DoctorChow

              Well, I'd like to say I'm having a "senior moment" tonight, but I don't remember what that means. So far, I'm two for two. Time to reboot.

              Yes, yes. It's Walmido, not Waldimo! And no, it doesn't fall not in the "great" Korean restaurants category. It's in the "really tasty" category, IMHO, which is to say, "its worth a trip to try it out".

              1. re: DoctorChow

                I haven't had any truly excellent Korean food in California outside San Francisco.

                I don't want to hijack this thread, but have had the Korean food in LA?

                If you had, I'm wondering what you tried because I find the Korean food in LA far superior to that of SF. In fact, for certain Korean fare, the stuff in LA Koreatown beats the shit out of anything you'll find in Seoul.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Ipsedixit, your experience with Korean food is obviously more expansive than mine, but I’m giving my net opinion and it simply differs from yours. I haven’t been to a Korean restaurant in LA in years, having given up after having a number of wonderful dinners in SF, and nothing but disappointment in LA. I've never been to Korea, so I can't speak to that at all. I tend to seek out offbeat, small places, and to order unusual things that a friend or the server recommends. I like very spicy food, not just for the heat, but for the flavor that the chilies give to the dish. If a “spicy” dish comes to the table bland, I can’t take the “authenticity” of the place too seriously, and I know the food will lack that essential chili flavor component. I’m not good at remembering names of Korean restaurants or specific dishes, sorry. In SF, I have a 2nd generation Korean friend who when I visited would insist on taking me to the “real” Korean places (and ordering “real” Korean dishes). The places he took me too were mostly in central SF proper, all small, all packed with Koreans. These were the types of places that bring a bucket of glowing coals to the table for a barbeque (for instance) and that don’t ask you how hot you want your food on a scale of one to ten. In LA, I never was to a place that had real charcoal grills at the tables (continuing with that example because I can remember “barbeque”), so I guess I’ve been to the wrong places, or at least not the ones that are far superior than those in SF. If you could name one offbeat Korean place in LA that’s “authentic”, fresh, and reasonable (I always seek out real value), I’d certainly like to try it out next time I’m up there (which isn’t very often, these days).

                  1. re: DoctorChow

                    Soot Bull Jeep has charcoal BBQ. Old-school place where you should bring a change of clothing before partaking.

                    But why limit yourself to BBQ (charcoal, gas, or whatever) when it comes to Korean food. That's like limiting yourself to pizza for Italian.

                    Next time you're in LA, I suggest the following dishes at the following places:

                    Gobchang @ Byul Gobchang
                    San nak ji @ Hwal A Kwang Jang
                    Duck bulgolgi @ Sun Ha Jang
                    Kkotgetang @ Ondal 2
                    Bok jiri @ Dae Bok
                    Cheonggukjang @ King Cheonggukjang
                    Ganjang gaejang @ Soban
                    Soondae @ Eighth Street
                    Bosintang @ Yanbian
                    Dongchimi gook soo @ Corner Place (or Seoul Garden)
                    Agujjim @ Masan
                    Jing-gee Skhan @ Seoul Garden
                    Hotteok at @ Koo's
                    Chic naengmyon @ Yu Chun

                    I could go on and on, but you get the picture. And if you try all those spots, end your evening by getting piss-ass drunk at Dan Sung Sa.


                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      "end your evening by getting piss-ass drunk at Dan Sung Sa."

                      A lofty goal.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Thanks, Ipsedixit. I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I limit myself to BBQ at Korean places. I definitely don't, and I didn't mean to imply that. It was just an example. Actually, it's quite the opposite: I seek out things that I don't think I've had before and that the servers recommend as being delicious. In fact, the things I like best (and may have had) might well be dishes of the kind you listed. Now, if you could narrow it down to just one place that's offbeat, has reasonable prices (cheap would be best), and has terrific food -- and will make dishes that are supposed to be hot really hot without having to ask -- that would be great. I'm starting to think I need to take a voyage to LA just to try your suggestions! I don't immediately recognize the names of any of the dishes on your list, so if you do narrow it down, could you please translate? I might recognize it that way.

                        I like your suggestion for a finish at Dan Sung Sa, by the way...

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I am now armed and dangerous.


                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Right. Of course. If you say so.

                                Well, I compared your list to the wikipedia descriptions and photos, and I see that our tastes in Korean food overlap on bulgogi and donchimi gook soo, but maybe they diverge somewhat from there. At least now I can name names. So here's my short list based on the website's photos/descriptions: I've had dweji bulgogi and dak bulgogi and I love both. But more frequently, I tend to order things like dak galbi, budae jjigae, gamjatang (except that it's really messy to eat), and jeyuk bokkeum. Stuff like that. I like hot food -- Indian, Korean, Thai.

                                One of the most memorable Korean dishes that I had in SF on one of the "tours" my friend took me on, by the way, isn't on your list or on the Wikipedia site. It was a very simple dish, just a half-dozen skewers of wonderfully marinated barbequed pork slathered in one of the most delicious (and extremely hot) medium-thick sauces I've ever had. It was served in a simple rectangular dish just the right size for the skewers (about 8" long), with the sauce on top. And of course there were condiments on the side. I wish I knew what that one is called so I could look for it. I've asked for it (by description) and received blank stares. In San Diego, anyway.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Hey, Ipsedixit, I hope you understand that I was joking when I wrote "Right. Of course. If you say so."

                                  I suspect that your Korean post says something like "You're most welcome. Good luck and bon apetit!"

                                  I can't read a single symbol of Korean, which is why I was joking about it.

                            1. re: DoctorChow

                              Funny...I was gonna say Sut Bul Jeep, aka 'Soot Bowl Jeep.' Glad to know they're keeping it real up there, with their scissors in your food and shit...


                              1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                Hi SaltyRaisins.

                                OK, now I'm definitely going to have to make a pilgrimage up to LA and seek out this Soot Bowl Cheap place. Sounds like my kinda restaurant! Isexdixit's sugesstion of a change of clothes is appreciated. Also, I'm goint to have to find a hotel close to Dan Sun Sa. Thanks for mentioning the scissors thing, but I don't mind...all caution to the wind if the food is terrific and the atmosphere genuine!

                                1. re: DoctorChow

                                  Glad this thread helped you guys connect....enjoy LA.

                                  1. re: escondido123

                                    Well, let us know if and how you enjoyed DJK.

                                        1. re: karaethon

                                          Thanks, Karethon. I will definitely give this place a try. Soon.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Finally made it over to DJK. Nice place, and I liked the scent of charcoal when I walked in. In fact I can still smell the charcoal and I'm back home. I told the waitress I wanted something spicy, and she pointed me to a "divided lunch plate" called "spicy marinated BBQ pork". She didn't ask and I didn't say just how spicy I wanted it -- I wanted to see what they would bring to the table without asking. The pork was very good even though I would have prefered it cut into somewhat larger pieces. But on my personal 10 point hotness scale, it might have been a 3, if that high. The kimchi was a little hotter, maybe a 4. When I go to Sab-E-Lee they ask (and I tell) that I want a 10 and what I get is a real 10. Perhaps if I'd have asked for the pork to be extra hot it would have come that way. Or not. I'll go to DJK again because I liked the feel of the place (although I could have done without Psy staring at me while I waited for my food to come), and because it was a really terrific value. Everything that came with the meal was very tasty, not great, but pretty darn good. Friendly service, too. Thanks for the suggestion, ipsedixit.

                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                          Not sure the point of Korean food is to set Scoville records.

                                          DJK, from what I gather, is about as good as it gets in SD for Korean.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            Agree that setting Scoville records isn't the point, but IMO the intended flavor of certain Indian, Thai, and Korean dishes, for example, simply can't be achieved without adding in enough chili, as a spice. Chili has an important impact on the taste of these foods and can't be reduced too far without compromising the quality of the dish. The chili flavor (and heat, which as a chilihead I also like) was weak in the BBQ pork I had at DJK, and that's why I thought the meal was very good but not great. Anyway, I will definitely go back, so thanks again!

                                      2. re: escondido123

                                        Oops. Hey, appologies, escondido123. This was supposed to be your blog about Korean in SD and we got diverted. Which by itself isn't a problem, but maybe we should get back to your original question, which was about Korean in SD.

                                        OK, well, so I still suggest Walmidos in KM for cheap, good (if not "great") Korean food. There will be lots of disagreement, I suppose.

                          1. re: ricepad

                            We had dinner at Buga two months ago and loved it.

                          2. Was that the one where the new Zion supermarket is opening?

                            I drove by there and saw a sign for an all you can eat Korean BBQ.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: knifesavers

                              I think it's called taekugji (sp?).

                              It's an all you can eat place and I tried the premium menu and liked it more than Manna. It wasn't as good as DJK though