Last night we tried Ka San Korean BBQ in La Crescenta, a couple of miles from us. Katrina and I had eaten there years ago — before kids, if I recall correctly — immediately after they opened. It did not go well. Their air conditioning system was cranked up so high that we could see our breath (not a joke — I mean that literally), and their BBQ tables were not working, so we had to eat only things cooked in the kitchen. But the whole point of Korean BBQ is cooking at your own table — stuff cooked in the kitchen is much more likely to be congealed and greasy.
But last night I wanted to try a different Korean place than our standby Daban and convinced an extremely reluctant wife to go back to Ka San. We were very pleasantly surprised. The bulgogi and galbi were both excellent — perfectly seasoned. The jap chae was superior as well — just the right ratio of noodles to veggies and meat. (Someday I'll learn how to cook jap chae — but for now it inevitably ends up in a congealed ball of sticky). The shrimp — which they had to do in the kitchen, to our concern — was very good as well, served on a sizzling plate like fajitas with a bed of shredded cabbage that soaked up the juices and spices. Very nice.
The banchan (an array of side dishes, usually predominantly variations on kimchi) was varied without being overwhelming, and included my favorites and excluded the ones I hate and fear (those tiny salty greasy crunchy fish, for instance). One new favorite was a rice paste wrap. Normally I like to wrap galbi or bulgogi in large lettuce leaves, but they provided small sheets of rice wrap (imagine rice pounded into a square thin sheet, like a won ton wrapper) and additional wraps made out of some sort of vegetable — a beet of some sort? Anyway, they were a nice variation.
Overall, a big thumbs up. No alcohol at Ka San — a downer, since I like a bottle of OB with my BBQ — and the table was too small and very crowded after all the dishes got there. But the food was a huge success, including with our kids.
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