It's funny how incredibly important geography is in L.A. At a press tasting for the new Korean BBQ restaurant Gyenari, on Culver City's most hopping block, the Westside crowd were all like, "This is so much more convenient than going to Koreatown." Well, it's not more convenient for me, but I can still see the appeal of a place like Gyenari. (First Gjelina, now Gyenari -- why not just call your restaurant Gynecologist?)
There' s a patio and large bar area in front
While I'm extremely adventurous when it comes to Chinese and Thai food, I sometimes find Korean restaurants kind of intimidating. Plus I've been to a few where, frankly, the meat just isn't that great. The cavernous, loungey Gyenari is undeniably Americanized, but two days later, I'm still thinking about the delicious caramelization we achieved after playing with our Gyenari Galbee beef shortribs on the gas grill. I also loved the shrimp and kim chee mandu dumpling -- like an uptown potsticker.
Galbee shortribs, pre-caramelization, with Kurobata pork belly in front
Other dishes we tasted included a very solid bibimbap with shortribs and japchae glass noodles -- anyone know a good place in Koreatown for these?
Another good thing about this dinner was that there were actual vegetables -- unusual at a tasting dinner -- from panchan of kimchee, asparagus, zucchini and spicy shredded radish to fresh veggies with the black cod in garlic sauce, and there's several vegetarian dishes on the menu. Dessert of banana cream pie and green tea donuts with raspberry buttermilk dipping sauce was nice, but even better was the incredibly refreshing Bright Bloom -- a large dish of milky shaved ice topped with an array of fresh fruits and mango sorbet. So if the eight miles from Culver City to Koreatown seems a tad far, or if you'd like a sparkling lichee martini with your non-threatening Korean BBQ, Gyenari is worth a try.