Things are simple at ChoSun Galbee.
The marinade on my dak bulgogi (barbecued chicken) was a simple soy sauce.
The mul mandoo, plentiful in their bulging splendour, are simple, with their mild minced pork filling.
There is something to be said about the decor. The entrance is through a prettily lit bamboo gateway, complete with a lute playing Asian sculpture. You can choose to sit outside or inside: the outside is nicer with leafy green plants separating the tables, and the inside is a clean, sterile environment.
The menu contains several barbecue options, but sticks to the simplicity employed by the dak bulgogi. No strikingly spicy marinades here, as at Soot Bull Jeep. To perk up your taste buds, flip through to the Korean specialties toward the end of the menu, which lists several offerings with a ‘spicy broth.’
Service is quick, efficient, and affable.
All that said, I wish the meat had been more flavourful, that the tea had been brewed instead of appearing in a white mug with a tea bag afloat in it, and that the mandoo had been more memorable. I think of Mandoo Bar, my all-time favourite mandoo, and shudder at the tragedy that these or other average and sub-standard dumplings feel like in comparison.
ChoSun Galbee is very different from its cosier, cheaper Korean barbecue counterparts in LA. First, it’s larger. Second, it is, to be clear, more expensive ($22 for the dak bulgogi, £15 for the mul mandoo). Third, it feels more upscale. Fourth, the food isn’t as tasty.
There, I’ve given away all the juicy bits. Now if only my bulgogi had been a bit juicier...
“You’ll never believe we’re supposed to be in a recession from the buzz and bustle at ChoSun Galbee Korean restaurant,” boldly states the restaurant’s web site, which as it turns out, is a quote from the LA Times. That much is true, the place was fairly full despite its cavernous capacity even on a weekday evening.
Parking is not free as the web site says, but costs $2. Nevertheless, it’s cheap for a valet. Don’t bother attempting to park in the large and temptingly empty Bank of America parking lot across the street; the friendly security officer outside ChoSun told us that cars get towed every night.
3330 W. Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90019
Telephone: 323 734 3330
Hours: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily
RATING: 2 OUT OF 5 BIBIMBAPS