Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gyenari -- hard to pronounce, easier to eat

I wish I had taken this picture of the Bright Bloom dessert, but I didn't...

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.

10 comments:

Jane said...

Wow. I couldn't stand the place. Even though the drive to/from Koreatown is long, I would save the gas money and prolly more money by going to certain restaurants in ktown, for example..any of them offering all-you-can-eat BBQ for ~$16/person or so (they come with side dishes...like japchae (something a lot of korean restaurants will give to you for free as a side dish), soup, steamed egg, a dozen others..).

Bright bloom? Nice fancy name for patbingsoo..even Pinkberry offers that on their menu, and there's plenty of places in ktown that do that excellently.

Maybe it's just me being picky, but this place was way overpriced and had none of the goodness of actual korean cuisine. I'd only take like the completely ignorant non-Korean people to this place, cause anyone else would prolly kick my ass for not going to like Manna and eating a lot for dirt cheap...may not look as new or fancy, but it sure leaves us with lots more money to actually go do other things with.

Pat said...

Well, I guess you can count me among the completely ignorant non-Korean people --nothing wrong with that, right? I like Manna too but I would only take a certain kind of friend there. All I really care about is whether it tastes good, and most of the dishes I had were good. The only thing I wasn't wild about was the japchae, I feel like there might be a better one out there somewhere.

Anonymous said...

i hear there's a new lounge on the west side called "gynecologist".

want to meet for drinks?

only kidding.

Anonymous said...

Hey, if this place has the godly power to keep "completely ignorant non-Korean people" from coming into Koreatown, then I'm all for it. Also, I can't wait to try it! haha.

Anonymous said...

wow, this place was the best ever! i went with a big group of people so we were able to try almost everything on the menu. literlly, everything was so good. what i also liked about this place was that it's really nice. not at all like the other k town bbq houses, at this place, you can actually, do happy hour, grill meat, and then move over to the bar and drink away... which is exactly what we did. can't wait to do my birthday here!!!

Just call me Maria said...

We ate there last night- unfortunately, we won't be going back. The food was plentiful and generous, but sooooo bland. Honestly, the Korean BBQ vendor at the Culver City Farmers Market has better kim chee and jaepchae. Service was a little spotty, but I could see they were making an effort.

Anonymous said...

What's "pandan"?

Do you mean "panchan"

Hahaha, silly round-eye you maka me laffa.

Pat said...

If you're Asian, then surely you know that pandan is a common ingredient in Asian desserts. But yes, I meant panchan, just typing too fast as usual. I've corrected it, thank!

Anonymous said...

touche

Anonymous said...

This place is absolutely disgusting!!! Poor excuse for Korean food, and it gives korean food a bad name. Save your time and money and head over to k-town