Thursday, April 2, 2009

Amazing Korean BBQ on the West Coast

Seoul Oak
8295 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844

So if you haven't noticed yet - I am a fanatic for all things Asian (food wise that is) but I have a serious devotion to Korean food. I am a die hard Hoban fan for life and feel lucky to have a place like that close to the Twin Cities. I also make frequent trips to United Noodle (I'll tell you more about this later) for fresh Kimche and rice patties and do some Korean cooking of my own. I wouldn't call my versions authentic necessarily, but a Korean person cooking Korean food from a Korean cookbook is pretty close. So there's no real reason to go searching for much more...what can I say? I'm not a complainer. However, during my trip to California I knew I'd be in for a whole new world of Korean and Asian food options.

One-third of the nation's 14.9 million Asian Americans reside in California according to the US Census Bureau. That's a lot of good cooks, food and tradition! I don't know how I feel about looking like a cheeto 24/7 and spending a $75 on a t-shirt, but I almost considered moving after we hit the restaurant scene. Ever heard of Koreatown? Also known as Heaven to some...

But I digress. Seoul Oak was new to all of us (even our hospitable friends from HB). We basically just googled 'Korean bbq' and drove around til we found something that looked good and we ended up striking gold!!! The restaurant was decent sized and filled with a lot of Koreans - a good sign.

Each table has a small pit in the middle where the grill is eventually placed and the meat is cooked. Fellow adopted Korean Chris and I were asked if we spoke Korean (we do not) and while communication wasn't simple, we were able to get our orders in and got them correctly.

At Seould Oak there is an all you can eat special, about $20 a person for all you can eat meat and banchan. Collectively as a group we chose 3 meats: short ribs, beef and bulgogi (marinated beef). I think we got our money's worth even though we only had one plate of meat.
As you can see in the photo above: the pit (the grill hasn't come yet) and the large amounts of food that has already filled our table. We did not order any of these things, they just come with the meat! Way to go Korea.
Okay, I'll try to point a few things out here. We got a large plate of salad (mostly romaine lettuce) lightly dressed with a mixture of sesame oil, cracked pepper and maybe a little salt. Also on the table are salted dried sardines, rice noodle wrappers, kimche (of course), fresh tofu, chap chae, radish slices with wasabi, pickled spinach and even Korean mashed potatoes! Everyone also got dipping sauce for the meat and steamed rice. The banchan keeps coming too. Once a bowl empties another one magically appears. Notice too the black bowl - a hot egg poridge of some sort? really good!

Now to the important stuff. Here is our meat plate being dished onto the grill. They leave the plate of raw meat and you watch your own as it cooks on the grill to your exact liking. Too bad they don't trust us midwesterns with open heating apparati. Why is that?
I would go back to California literally just to visit Seoul Oak again. If I was a millionaire that is...And if there wasn't any layovers...

# of People: 4
Reservations: No need.
Day/Time of Visit: Sunday, March 8th @ 7:00pm
Will I be back: DEFINITELY!
YAYs!: Everything, what more can I say.
Nays: I read a few other reviews where people had complained about the service. I would disagree. I think that sometimes there is a cultural difference to food service. Here they bring you your food, they don't act like they're trying to sell you anything, you just sit back with your friends or family or whoever and have a good time.
Notes: When you are in So-Cal check this place out! Also, feel free to invite me along.


No comments: