I always liked Korean BBQ, but when we went to Seoul in 2015 and had charcoal BBQ, it was honestly life-changing. I have had intense cravings for charcoal KBBQ ever since that sadly went unfulfilled in Canada.
When we roamed the West Coast in August 2016, my friend decided we should try Korean BBQ in Los Angeles, and found a place online. We decided to go on our second night to try Kang Ho Dong Baekjong.
Maybe if we read Yelp reviews we would have realized that we should have booked beforehand – but being in the States meant we were without our cell phone plans and we decided to drive through LA traffic to Koreatown on a Saturday night.
Of course the restaurant was bursting at the seams, so I left my name at 8pm and was told it would be a two hour wait. None of us were particularly hungry so we decided to wait it out (not a wait I would normally ever do otherwise), and as I was cell phone-less, the host told me to come back and check in an hour. We roamed around Koreatown and checked out bakeries and got some honeycomb soft serve and it honestly felt like I was back in Seoul. Our parking was going to expire so half our group went to re-park the car while my friend and I waited outside at the small plaza. We didn’t know there was valet parking right outside the restaurant, but honestly it was a total nightmare with cars taking almost every square inch of space available.
We decided to check with the host every 20 minutes, and after about 1 hour and a half of waiting, he told us a table was ready for us, but as half our group was still re-parking, we would not be seated until they arrived. Thankfully they came back within the next few minutes and we were seated near the windows at the front of the restaurant. The table was already spread out with side dishes, sauces, and so many things to top or wrap your meat with. Each table also featured vacuum vents above the grill which sucked up the smoke to reduce the amount that would stink up your clothes.
We ordered the small beef combo ($59.99, and our server suggested it would feed 2-3 people rather than our party of 4) and got some makgulli ($12.99), but sadly our table wasn’t hungry enough to agree to order a doshirak, a lunchbox that came in a tin ready to shake and eat. Our combo came with three types of beef; boneless short rib, thinly sliced brisket, and prime boneless short rib or sliced rib eye. It also came with a choice of stew – we chose the kimchi jjigae.
The servers came by with the meat and began to cook and cut the meat for us. We rarely needed to cook anything, and soon we were stuffing our faces with the most delicious beef I’ve had since Seoul. The thin brisket tasted best dipped in sauce, topped with kimchi, green onions, and wrapped in lettuce. The other two tasted delicious on its own as well, but I couldn’t help putting the green onions on almost everything. The stew was an afterthought as I found it too salty and fishy, but it honestly didn’t matter with all the side dishes we had available.
I’ve written a lot about Kang Ho Dong Baekjong, but I’m just very passionate about good Korean BBQ, and this was easily my favourite meal during our trip. Now I’m back on the hunt to find a good place for KBBQ in Toronto… unless Kang Ho Dong wants to open a location here!