Did you know that we spend some time in Los Angeles with Mark’s family over the Christmas holidays? Of course not, because I’m really behind on my posting. Instead of making excuses and going on about why I’m writing about my awesome Los Angeles food adventures nearly four months later, I’m just gonna get right into it.
One of the best foods in LA is Korean food. In fact, Koreatown almost feels like the real Korea at times (complete with a Paris Baguette which was one of my favourite places when we visited Korea a couple of years ago). I seem to recall eating quite a lot of Korean food over the 6 days in LA, but the most memorable meals, by far, were from Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong (“baekjeong” means butcher), a Korean BBQ joint that keeps it simple and does its thing extremely well.
Kang Ho Dong is a former wrestler turned comedian/MC that is quite recognizable in Korea. If you know who he is, you would definitely think that he loves his food, so it makes sense that he would open up a BBQ place. He has another location in NYC with most of his chains located in Seoul. The location in LA is wildly popular and wait times for dinner can be upwards of 4 hours. They don’t take reservations; it’s essentially first come, first serve. When you arrive, you write down your name and number at the host’s desk and wait to be called in. They let tables in by waves, so the earlier you go, the better. Lunch seatings are easier to get into, and when your name gets called, you almost feel like you’ve been initiated into this special club. The first time we went was during lunch and we arrived about 15 minutes before they opened to put our names down (we got in fairly quickly as we were part of the first wave). We weren’t the only ones with this smart idea; there were at least a dozen other groups who had arrived just as early. The second time we went was during dinner and it was a madhouse – the parking lot was jam-packed, a large crowd was gathered around waiting near the entrance, and we had to wait over an hour to get in.
The decor is simple with posters of a cartoonified Kang Ho Dong and their meat offerings adorning the walls. The unmistakable aroma of Korean BBQ lingered in the air. All the tables were already set with cutlery and a selection of “banchan” (side dishes) so all you had to do when you got to the table is decide on what meats to order.
The setting comes with bowls of fresh lettuce, a pancake (either pajeon or potato pancake), squash, kimchi, their famous dipping sauce, and endless bowls of bean sprout salad. Their grill tops have a rim around the edge that also houses some goodies as well – corn with cheese (this combo was weird to me but I guess Koreans love this?) and onions. Once you’re settled, a server comes by with a large pot of an egg omelette mixture that gets poured into the vacant space in the grill which results in the most pillowy soft slow cooked egg omelette that is really one of the highlights of this meal.
Also, this bean sprout salad was pretty spectacular. Mark loved this so much, he had about 3 bowls the first time we went and 2 bowls the second time. As soon as your bowl is empty, a server comes by with a fresh bowl so you can truly eat to your heart’s content.
We had a variety of meats and I wish I could remember exactly what we ordered. I do remember that the thinly sliced beef was a hit and the ribeye steaks were tender and flavourful.
This pork jowl was especially delicious. It was surprisingly tender and full of porky goodness. Take a look at that egg ring. It takes patience to wait until it’s set, but once it’s ready… oh my. Best soft egg of my life.
The service is another highlight of this place. All the meats are grilled by a server assigned to your table, although all of them help each other out as required. They all seem to have a spidey sense too, because as soon as we’d touch the tongs to flip the meat, a server would come by and do it for us. I’m guessing their policy is “guests do not do any work, they just eat”. Each time a banchan got low, they would bring out a fresh batch. Depending on the cut or type of meat that was to be grilled next, they would swap out for the appropriate grill top. We learned that servers go through a month-long training program when they start, so they take their service game pretty seriously. And it shows – they’re all quick, attentive, and friendly.
As far as Korean BBQ joints go, this was one of the best ones I’ve been to. It’s not that they do anything particularly special, it’s that they do the basics well. The meat is incredibly fresh and flavourful, and the price point won’t break the bank either (2 ribeye steaks for example, at about 10-12 oz. each, were only $32). Service is top notch. It’s basically a low-carbing meat lovers dream come true. If I’m ever in LA again, I’m hitting up Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong as many times as possible.
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
3465 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Phone: (213) 384-9678