Monday, July 7, 2014

Gang Nam Korean BBQ

After spending two hours stuck in traffic coming from White Rock because only one lane was open on HWY 99, we finally made it to Gang Nam in Richmond. When Gang Nam first opened, I laughed it off and assumed the restaurant chose their name based on the popular music video at the time "Gangnam Style", rather than after the city in Korea. However, after seeing a few photos on Instagram and Eating with Kirby's blog post, I had to make the visit. The quality and value looked definitely there.

Before turning the corner to get to Gang Nam, we could already smell the barbecue from outside. The barbecue aroma was very strong (which is not bad) and we secretly hoped to be seated by the open front door. After waiting literally only five minutes, a friendly waitress seated us and apologized for the wait. Wow, she did not even need to apologize and so far Gang Nam has the friendliest service out of many Korean restaurants.

The main reason that lured me in to visit Gang Nam is because I assumed their grill was similar to Go Gung's, which is known as a "five star barbecue" in some parts of Asia (at five star restaurants to be exact). However, the grill is not the same and is a lot simpler. We went for the priciest combo (Combo C $59.99) which consists of pork belly, beef rib eye, marinated beef short rib, prime rib eye rib, pajeon or japche, and a choice of bibimbop.

Starting with the salad which we did not try, consists of romaine and a slice of tomato along with dressing. Following, the potatoes taste soft (not mushy) and have a nice sweet flavour. Continuing along, the broccoli has a nice crunch and a creamy peanut sauce with a hint of spiciness. Next, the seaweed has a light pickled taste and up last, the kimchi tastes slightly spicy with a pickled flavour. The side dishes taste pretty fresh and I like the addition of broccoli.

At first, we were surprised to see LA cut ribs because Kirby's dinner did not seem to include any. Furthermore at the end of dinner, our surprised faces turned into regret when we realized that galbi was not included and wished we went for the a la carte.

The ribs taste tender and have a flavourful marinade. However, the ribs lack that slightly sweet flavour. In general, the ribs are not bad especially for the LA cut but of course, we still prefer galbi. After taking a look at the menu (right now… lol), it seems like the galbi is "seasoned boneless beef short rib" which is only included in Combo A $49.95 and Combo E $44.95.

Again when comparing what we received to Kirby's, the meat did not look the same. This was around the time when we realized we may have ordered a different combo! The pork belly has a peppery seasoning flavour and tastes slightly tender as well as fatty. However, the quality is not comparable to when ordering a la carte, where the taste is noticeably more tender as well as fattier, and bouncy. Also, the slices of pork belly are very thin which can be expected when ordering a combo.

As for the beef rib eye, the meat tastes moist but unfortunately, also chewy and bland. The marinade has no flavour whatsoever and in this case, we would rather have plain meat without a marinade.

The soup has a light beefy broth and a slightly sweet flavour from the onions. The galbi tastes tender and not chewy at all. Furthermore, the sweet potato noodles are perfectly cooked and the addition of an egg is appreciated. If anything, the broth could have tasted more rich and we would have preferred diced green onion for more flavour compared to a few slices. 

Included in Combo C is an order of pajeon (pancake) or japche (sweet potato noodles) and we went for the latter. Also, the price listed above is if ordering a la carte. The japche consists of green onion, onion, carrot, egg, beef as well as sesame seeds, and is nicely cooked with no pool of water at the bottom. As for the taste, the perfectly cooked noodles are soft as well as bouncy and have a nice sweetness. Furthermore, the flavour of the carrots really stood out, more than the other ingredients.

Also included in an order of Combo C is a choice of bibimbop, either namul (vegetables, fried egg and sesame oil), bulgogi (stir fried beef), seafood or spicy pork. We went for the bulgogi bibimbop and added a dollop of gochujang which is a red hot pepper paste.

The bibimbop arrived sizzling hot and we blended the ingredients together. The dish consists of bean sprouts, egg, onion, sautéed beef, carrot and spinach. Oddly, I have had bland bibimbop before and this is not one of them. All the ingredients are fused together, the rice tastes flavourful, and there are a few crunches from the bean sprouts.

Leaving the best for last is the prime rib. The meat has a simple pepper n' salt seasoning and tastes quite tender.

TOTAL: $76.55 + TIP $13.45 = $90.00.

Overall the experience was okay and similar to Insadong, where we sampled a variety of meat and a couple of dishes at a reasonable price. Furthermore, the combos are a good value especially for those who like pajeon, japche and bibimbop. However throughout the dinner, we could not help but feel that the meats tasted mediocre at best and should have went with a la carte. I am sure the separate orders of pork belly and galbi are a lot better. As for the service, the staff was friendly and is it just me, or is it hard to come by friendly staff at Korean restaurants?!

- Friendly staff
- Clean restaurant
- Good combo values
- Japche and bibimbop are nicely prepared
- Perhaps one of the better Korean restaurants in Richmond

- Quality of the meats are not that great (which may be expected because it is a combo)
- Restaurant is stuffy (again, expected)

- Complimentary candy
- Gang Nam does not offer gamjatang :(… but hey, better than offering one that is not very good!

Food: 2.5/5
Service: 3/5

Gang Nam Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Top it all off with some Asian-style noodles, and take the bowl over to the cook, Best Food Truck In LA



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