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.

Mon – Sat

11 AM – 12 AM

Sun

11 AM – 11 PM

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

Las Vegas, NV: Pigging Out At Cochon 555 All-Stars

Erika and Amelia of Lindy Grundy - Los Angeles, CA

Every food enthusiast knows (here in Los Angeles, anyway): Culinary events come and go, each offering its own celebration of chefs, food and wine. But nothing was about to prepare me for the best of that pig fest, Cochon 555. So named because each city it visits brings together five local chefs, five heritage pigs and five winemakers, Cochon 555 held an “all-star” edition with favorites (that is, 10 chefs, 14 pigs and 4 butchers) hailing from cities all over to Vegas, baby, Vegas.

Charcuterie from Fruition - Denver, CO

Representing Los Angeles? No chefs, alas (are we snubbed, much?). But a social media-savvy pair of talented butchers with a shop on Fairfax called Lindy & Grundy were there to perform a live butcher demonstration – with projector screen and microphone on the ready – alongside Michael Sullivan of Blackberry Farms.

Favorite bites included an impressive array of charcuterie from Fruition in Denver. With this being my first booth visit, it was good indication that I’d have a very hard time avoiding literally rolling out of the posh, velvety Cosmopolitan convention room by the end of the event.

Swiss Army Pig from The French Laundry - Napa, CA

Another standout was the Swiss Army Pig as presented by Napa’s The French Laundry – with every part of the pig included with the bite prepared with sour morello cherry, red walnuts, Dijon and thyme with a dusting of chicharron. Delicious.

Probably the most impressive presentation at Cochon All-Stars was the Prosciutto cotto tremazzini from New York City’s Del Posto, by which you wrapped a sandwich with a massive sheet of charcuterie. There were a ton of textures delivering unmatched decadence only cut by the two tiny pieces of bread.

Tarte Tartin, Chicarron Ice Cream Sandwich from Lark - Seattle, WA

My favorite Asian homage at Cochon All-Stars was the Open-faced Banh Mi from Chicago’s Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat. All the right Vietnamese flavors were there as was the deliciously crispy pork texture.

And if you ever doubted the concept of pork dessert, John Sundstrom (Lark – Seattle, WA) would prove you wrong. His Tarte Tartin with pork belly, pineapple and soy caramel was perfect. Also served at this booth was a decadent pork-flavored ice cream sandwich made with maracon-ish cookies on the outside. These two made up for the fact that I missed the bacon-caramel milkshake that others had been raving about, but which I forgot to check off the seemingly never-ending list of bites.

Masubi Cocktail

In-house (Cosmopolitan) restaurants were also given their due without the requisite of serving up pork. Scarpetta dished out their Short Rib Agnolotti and Blue Ribbon made hand rolls of spicy tuna and uni. Of course, I could always make room for sushi.

Cocktails were presented by Domaine de Canton, Maker’s Mark and No. 3 London Dry Gin. My favorite cocktail had to be the Domaine de Canton’s Masubi – much like a ginger pina colada. Of course, the pineapple-wrapped fried pork with rice had to be the most theme-appropriate garnish in the place.

I’ve been to many a food fest in my day, but Cochon 555 All-Stars definitely takes the cake as one of the most well run with plenty a bite left over. There were no lines and I didn’t see one booth run out of food. Admittedly, this had more to do with the fact that I had to leave 15 – 20 minutes before the end of the event or face total gastro-destruction. Thank goodness my hotel room was just a 14 floors and a tower away so I could sleep away the lethargy.

Just in time for the VIP afterparty. There were more pig bites there, too, but the party was outdoors at Overlook Bar & Grill in 105 degree Las Vegas heat. Ugh. I opted for the mojito and tequila sunrise push-up pops, instead.

VIP Ticket to Cochon 555 All-Stars and Cosmopolitan Hotel accommodations were hosted.

Cochon 555 All-Stars at The Cosmopolitan
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
877.551.7778