When one is passing through Koreatown, it is almost a crime not to experience at least one of the Korean eateries there. I happened to be in L.A.’s Korean sector at midnight on a Saturday, but the rule still applied, so I considered my options for Korean barbecue.
There is no better place in the U.S. for Korea’s version of grilled meat than L.A.’s Koreatown. In L.A.’s Koreatown, there is no better place than Park’s BBQ. I spent some time in Buenos Aires this summer; the meat at Park’s is as high quality as anything the Argentinian gauchos can give you. The meat is delivered fresh every day.
Park’s existence is no secret. Upon entering, you’ll encounter dozens of pictures of celebrities; the likes of Keanu Reeves and Jessica Alba all happily endorse it. There are at least a couple of reasons for Jessica Alba to like Park’s. One is that the food is spectacular. The second, unfortunately, is that it’s expensive. Park’s emphasizes quality over quantity. The cost of that philosophy is money. As a food columnist writing for a college newspaper, I try not to review restaurants that will drain the wallet. Park’s, however, is worth it.
LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold asserts that Park’s galbi, grilled prime beef short rib, will put you in a “meat coma.” That statement is, thankfully, hyperbolic, but the meat will still leave you feeling a bit woozy with gastronomic happiness. The 13 offered meat meals, which range from pork belly to rib eye steak, are all around $30 each. The meat is made on a grill on your table and comes with garlic, an assortment of sauces, and peppers, which you mix with the meat and wrap in your choice of rice paper or lettuce.
Park’s also puts on a fine, high-quality display of banchan, Korean cuisine’s unique small dishes that come with every meal (without additional charge). Park’s banchan includes spicy kimchi, fish, jap chae rice noodles, and cucumber. If you run out of anything, a waiter will bring a new set.
Park’s also offers a few other standard Korean dishes, like Stone Pot Rice and various noodle soups. The seafood pancake is a nice combination of shrimp and scallion pan fried in an omelette-like batter. There are also Mul-naengmyeon, cold hand-made noodles made in a tasty broth and topped with egg and Asian pear. You have the option of making the noodles spicy.
There are other Korean barbecue restaurants that produce an excellent product, almost all of which are less expensive than Park’s. I will review those alternatives in a later issue. Before anyone can judge L.A.’s Korean meat offerings, though, they must become acquainted with the standard set by Park’s.
Park’s BBQ. 955 S Vermont Ave, Koreatown (213) 380-1717. About 45 minutes from Claremont. Park’s is near the Wiltern Theatre, so this is a great place to go before or after a concert.