You should have seen it coming. What makes it a trip to Los Angeles for us was finding a Korean BBQ joint to kick off the night. This time around it was Magal BBQ. A place full of energy that’s powered by its young and sometimes inebriated patrons. What that really means was that this was a place friends come to eat and drink. Because that’s exactly what we did.
There was a modest wait, although we had a seat if every happened to be there. Too bad this happened to be one of those rare cold as hell LA nights. We were really hating our unorganized selves. But within 30 minutes the host came out and let us know our table was ready. Needless to say we rushed in and got our menus.
We opted for two large Beef Combos, priced at $98.99 and meant to serve 3-4 people per combo, that included:
- Beef Skirtmeat
- Paper Thin Sliced Brisket End-Point
- Prime Beef Boneless Rib or Prime Beef Rib Eye (we had one per combo)
- Marinated Prime Short Rib
- Assorted Grilled Items (king mushrooms, shrimp, and some vegetables)
- Boneless Short Rib Sushi
- Soybean Paste Soup with Beef Brisket
There were 9 of us so of course, we we ordered more a la carte. I did miss a couple things in my photos, such as the pork belly, assorted grilled items, and the sides. Well, there weren’t too many sides to begin with. There was a cold soup which left us scratching our heads, a small plate of pretty good kimchi for the four of us, a couple bowls of salad to share, pickled celery, and some sauces and condiments. That was pretty much our banchan. Yikes. I think that’s why we left a bit hungry. Or maybe it was the fact that we were planning to end the meal with the Volcano Fried Rice only to find out that they ran out. Double yikes. How could they run out of their signature, yet gimmicky, dish? Oh the horrors of an amateur foodie.
Overall though, the meat quality was good. They focus on unadulterated meats, as in, not too much seasoning. We were fine with that. There were a couple of stand out cuts that made us look to one another with that “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.” And the service, even for a hectic Saturday night, was attentitive. They made sure to come by and check on the grill, which was changed at least six times. Pretty good.
3460 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005
+1 (213) 383-1909
Verdict: Although it’s good in terms of quality of meats and service, I’d only go here to change up my Korean BBQ fix. I blame competition.
Gen, one of LA’s popular Korean BBQ chains, made its way up to Northern California last year. You’d think the lines and hype would have died down by now. Nope. Still hordes of people waiting outside ready to feast on their $20.99 all-you-can-eat dinner. Lucky for us, we made reservations.
We had a party of 14 and were seated in twenty minutes. They were waiting for a small party to clear out. Tables are fixed for groups of four so it’s understandable it will make reservations tricky. But what they did to counter the extra wait was to take our orders ahead of time. And guess what, when we were seated, all the food was already set out for us. All we needed to order at that point were the drinks. Pretty sweet. However, before I give this place major props, the service throughout dinner wasn’t too great. We had to constantly flag people down for refills, even for the salad. There was one moment of light though. A waitress noticed we had nothing grilling and came over to check in and expedite our order. Would love to give her a shout out if I had her name. But it was amazing she had noticed but the other four servers in our area didn’t. Of course, they weren’t standing around doing nothing. They were busy, a bit too busy. So in terms in service it’s inconsistent.
As for the food, it’s pretty damn good. Not high-end but great in terms of bang for your buck, it was amazing. I see why this place was still attracting so many people.
Gen Korean BBQ
1628 Hostetter Rd
San Jose, CA 95131
Verdict: Very surprising for an all-you-can-eat establishment in terms of quality and variety. Make a reservation and give this place a try.
We started this day a little groggy from the drinking adventures we had around Koreatown. Gotta hand it to some of the expensive places. Some of them had really good pours and as you may know, some of them didn’t. Does it all even out? No. Because there was expensive and expensive’er. Only found one dive bar, but the hard liquor would still set you back $8. It was still in fact, Los Angeles.
By the time we got our act together it was off to check out Joneric’s restaurant, The Park’s Finest. I know Joneric from Tuesday Night Cafe and I remember the days he would bring in his barbeque masterpieces for us volunteers. Wings. Ribs. The barbeque sauce was the most memorable. Not saying the meats weren’t good. They most definitely were. But I have to say, nowadays at the restaurant he had stepped up his game. When you’re there try out the short rib. When you get over the Flinstone’s size rib, you want even more when you finish eating. The food really didn’t even need the old sauces. I did try a bit for nostalgia. And it was great to hear he’ll be bottling the stuff to sell. Fantastic thing for me to get for those times I try to barbeque. Yes. I’ll admit it. I’ve only been a picnic barbeque type of person. Haven’t spent time to properly do American BBQ.
I didn’t have time for that. It was off to more eating that evening. And this time it was for Korean BBQ at a place my friends have been meaning to take me. Genwa.
The first thing that stood out was the service. I usually don’t write about service in my Yelp reviews, but this place was memorable. Probably why it has such high reviews. The restaurant has a very attentive staff and great attention to furnishings. Their grills have fans around the edges that prevent you from being followed home by wolves with the scent you’re giving off. Not like you’re not going to smell like food, but it’s much much less than every Korean BBQ place I’ve been to. Overall, the place was good. Though I have to say, Soowoon has the edge for me with their special marinated cuts. Then again, it might be because of the server over cooking the Kobe beef. Not as melt in your mouth as it should be. So as you can probably guess, I’ll be back to try both places again. I won’t be writing about it though. They’ve gotten enough publicity from me. Just sayin.
p.s. – check out the Park’s Finest on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives July 8th, 2013.
Weekend trips to LA always means at least one night out in Korea Town. This was actually a healthy improvement over all the other time my friends and I come to visit. We would do nothing but lunch at a Korean place, dinner at a Korean place, drinking at a Korean place, and top it off with BCD, a staple in Korea places here. This weekend though, was for a friend’s wedding out in Camarillo. So we split our time in West LA and Ventura County. Yeah, not quite Los Angeles, but I won’t cover the wedding here. You’re here for the lowdown in eating around Los Angeles.
Friday night, we arrived at hell on Earth LAX and I needed to drag my friends to Waterloo & City. It’s the gastropub that I measure all others to. Yeah, I set the bar pretty high. I mean, not only was the food fantastic (try any pizza and have a go at the pate mousse and see) but the service was great. The host personally sought us out at the bar when our table was ready. And even last time when I was here, we had a pizza that was a little too spicy for us to finish and they took it off our bill. Good service wasn’t about doing what’s good for the costumer, but it was about being consistent on how you treat everyone. Seemed to be ingrained in all that worked there. Hats off to you!
Well, the night continued on to some other bar in Venice beach then it was off to, as you might have guessed, BCD Tofu House to top off the night with soberness. Please thank your designated drivers! Because you may note that the police are setting up sobriety check points around Koreatown these days. Just sayin.
Saturday was the wedding and yes, I did go to the outlets out there. Can’t help it. The outlet malls were right off the highway and somehow I “accidently” forgot my dress shirt. Seriously!
Anyways, Sunday was a going away party for a friend back in LA. Lucky for me it was at Soowoon. It’s not an all-you-can-eat place. It’s a place that concentrates on quality and oh boy, they nailed it. I’d have to say the beef was the highest grade meat I’ve had in Koreatown so far. Surprisingly though, my friends said there was better. And no, they’re not the “gotta one-up on you” types. They aren’t foodies. Just typical people with taste buds. So with that, I decided not to rate the place and added the typical cough out phrase of “so far.” I’ll only do this once solely because I believe my friends. Really, I do. And what better a reason for an LA return than to try out another Korean BBQ place in KTown.