06 March 2010

A Temple of Meat

So we find ourselves in Los Angeles this weekend to go to the Anaheim/Montréal hockey game on Sunday. And it's raining, so outdoor activities are out. (Who said it never rains in southern California - it's been raining for 2 months straight). And what are we to do, but find some delicious eats while we're here? Well, find them we did, at the Temple of Meat (Korean meat, that is): Park's BBQ. (By the way, I'm still not that guy. No pictures, sorry - though I confess I wished several times that I had brought my camera).

Korean BBQ is something pretty special, if you've never had it. They start by setting a fire in the middle of your table. (Every table has it's own ventilation system, to vent out the smoke). And then they bring out meat for you to cook at your table. We ordered the Kobe-style beef and the Seasoned Prime Short Rib. The Kobe style beef was sliced thin and well marbled. It sizzled into delicious caramelized wonderfulness. The waitress brought us a dipping sauce that was sweet and hot (fish sauce based, perhaps?) and a seasoning salt of kosher salt, ground pepper and sesame seeds. We could dredge a tiny bit of that salt on the meat to add to the flavour. She rubbed the hot grill with a cube of beef fat, and threw down the thin slices of Kobe-style beef. Once it was caramelized on both sides, we removed it, and dredged it in the salt-mix. Mein gott, the flavour. Deliciousness. Smokey, just enough fat.

They also serve what they call Wagyu beef, which is the same meat, cut thicker. I think the meat they call Kobe is also Wagyu beef, sliced thin. And meanwhile, as we ate, they piled numerous delicious sides around us. Kimchi. Sesame-seasoned greens. A cabbage salad. Some spicy seasoned crab bits (complete with crab shell). Cubes of flavoured gelatin. A rice noodle mix. And a mild broth. All of this stuff was fantastic, though the crab was a little surprising. I thought it was kimchi until I bit into a crab shell. Yowza.

We finished the meal on the thicker cut Seasoned Prime Short Rib. This stuff we wrapped in small rice sheets, much thicker than the rice sheets I've encountered in Vietnamese cuisine. Teeny, tiny little burritos were folded, and deliciousness ensued. This meat was fantastic. And given that there was charcoal in the grill, there was a nice smoky flavour in this. Really, really nice. And kinda fun for a barbecue enthusiast such as myself to tend the meat. (The waitress kept coming over to turn the meat, but I was more than happy to take over).

I really loved that sesame seasoning salt. Pure genius.

Finally, I didn't know which Korean beverage to order, so I asked my waitress for help. She set me up with some Saan-soju. This is a distilled beverage, and at 20% alcohol, packs a bit of a punch. The flavour was quite mild, and the alcohol was nearly unnoticeable. This stuff could sneak up on you. It reminded me of sake, though the flavour was quite clearly different, it was mild in that way that sake is.

All in all, a lovely evening at a lovely restaurant. We'll be back.

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