Palsaik Samgyupsal Korean BBQ: The Belly of Koreatown

Pork Belly on the Grill

If you’re not into pork belly, there are a few other things on the table that you could savor at Palsaik Samgyupsal. I’m just not convinced that this restaurant is exactly your calling.

You have to pretty much love pork belly to sustain a dinner with 8 flavors of it at its centerpiece - agree? Fortunately, none of my fellow diners were ill-informed, but equipped with nil-to-small lunches eaten that day.

Banchan

The number of marinades is a novelty for, yes, the sheer number. The garlic, miso and red pepper were the favorites in the group. The herb was unintelligible; the wine and curry flavors, fortgettable. But if you learn one thing from this post, remember that when you go back in and order the pork belly in the marinades you like the most, there are 4 strips that come with each individually-ordered flavor. Whereby the 8-marinade sampler comes with 1 strip each, we ended up essentially doubling our dinner when we went with seconds on 2 of our favorite flavors.

The secret’s in the sauce, or marinade, if you will. When Krista asked about Palsaik’s smoker when they brought out a complimentary sampling if their “smoked” flavor, our server clarified that it was a sauce. I wasn’t too surprised.

But the sides are nothing to gloss over. The banchan, while basic and few in variety, were just enough. Much like AYCE in my Korean dining experiences, gone are the superfluous small dishes earmarking quantity over quality. The pink, pickled daikon wraps; shiso leaves; and romaine leaves were really the most important accompaniments (allowing for the construction of real Korean tacos, as I say). The green onion salad, too - as if they were all a reminder to leave room for the pork belly.

Pork Bellys, Vegetables, Kimchi and Bean Sprouts

aThe hot seafood soup simmering over the table’s burner was a delicious one, leaving me craving for more. We also ordered a bowl of cold, springy buckwheat noodles that I supplied with as much mustard as my sinuses desired. I always love a good bowl of cold noodle soup to lighten up the meat load – and the chili soybean paste I put on practically every bite of pork. So much for those marinades. Habits are just so hard to break.

And so. We pressed on through 16 strips of pork belly, all 5 of us. The service was team-oriented and pretty capable, with someone coming by periodically to magically scrape the carbon traces off our draining grill with a daikon-cube-on-a-stick, curate our bellys on the grill and even cut them up into bite-sized pieces with scissors. The place is new and modern, even by outside-of-Koreatown standards, which means new fans in addition to black and white, minimalist furnishings. I surprisingly wasn’t as compelled to relegate my clothes to the hamper as urgently as I was used to. And the damage despite inadvertantly overordering food and including 2 bottles of Hite? Just $25 per person including 20% gratuity.

Oh, beautiful Koreatown.

Protip: Ladies, your seats (tree stump-like stools) open up so you can keep your purse safely inside.

Center map
Traffic
Bicycling
Transit

Mon – Sat

11 AM – 12 AM

Sun

11 AM – 11 PM

Palsaik Samgyupsal
863 S. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
213.365.1750

Seoulful Suppers and Eats at Gyenari

The “West of Koreatown” flagship of Korean food, Gyenari in Culver City, is doing something rather special. Headed by Debbie Lee – of The Next Food Network Star fame, also Hatchi Series alum – they’re offering a Southern Korean-inspired menu. You can tailor your own prix fixe menus according to whatever and however much may suit your fancy. Starting with 3 courses for just $20 – diners can go as big as 12 courses for a not-so-steep $79. And with a menu divided up into “raw,” “salads & porridge,” “small bites,” “seafood,” “Ssam BBQ,” etc. – there’s a little something for everyone. I’d almost like to consider the system akin to a sort of Korean tapas.

It’s definitely a very interesting and flavorful-sounding menu with good range:

Rib Eye Tartare, Asian Pear, Scallions, Sesame Soy, Quail Egg
Sesame Cured Salmon, Daikon and Cucumber Julienne, Korean Mustard Aioli
Pumpkin Porridge, Toasted Pine Nuts, Soju Sauteed Dates
Abalone Porridge, Spicy Scallion Salsa, Nori Chiffonade
Pickled Watermelon, Shaved Pork Belly, Daikon Sprouts, Kimchee Citrus Vinaigrette
Pear and Shiso Salad, Flashed Rib Eye, Shabu Sesame Dressing
Mung Bean Pancakes, Ginger Soy Vinegar
Filet and King Oyster Roulade, Mushroom Soy Reduction
Korean Peppers, Lobster Mousse, Pimento Oil

With some simple math it’s apparent that the prix fixe menus are a good value as compared to ordering the items individually. And hey – don’t let me assume you’d never be able to put away 12 courses if not for the prix fixe option – take pictures and get back to me on that write-up. Color me impressed. (Okay fine, I guess you could have a friend along.)

And if you’re feeling more like a midday treat, there are new offerings including the “Bibim Box,” the Korean version of the classic Japanese lunchbox with choice of 1 Korean BBQ menu item, appetizer, salad, banchan, rice, and beverage  for only $9.95. Other lunch options include:

Spicy Sesame Spinach, topped with Twice Fried Pork Belly, Mushroom Medley, and Fried Potato Noodles, drizzled with a Warm Soy Leek Vinaigrette – $10

SeoulTown Po’ Boy made with Sesame Shrimp Tempura in a soft French Roll with Cilantro Slaw and Chile Tomatoes – $12, pictured above

I still have yet to check Gyenari’s new menu out but with Culver City so nearby my workplace, you can expect a follow-up in the near future!

Gyenari
9540 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
310.838.3131
@GyenariLA