August 13, 2009 2 Comments
With most all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ places, I don’t go in with very high expectations and I go in expecting the goal is not so much to enjoy the meat but to find myself full. It’s rare to come across an all-you-can-eat place that I like. And not surprisingly, only one all-you-can-eat place tops my list of favorites for Korean BBQ, and that one place is up there not because of their meat. And for the most part, it’s the previously-not-so-popular-on-the-verge-of-closing-down places that are the most popular all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurants.
Now that I set a negative tone, let me turn it to a positive one. Choiganei is an all-you-can-eat place that I would recommend. What turns me off most about all-you-can-eat places is not so much the food as it’s not usually not too bad, but it’s the service. These places are usually bombarded with requests for more “Ssam” made with “Dduk” (rice wraps) and you usually get unenthusiastic servers with pissed off looks on their faces with attitudes that follow. Choiganei doesn’t have that. If they have the patience to accommodate seven people for two hours without being pissed off, or at least not expressing it, they probably will do the same for other groups. Yes, TWO hours. It was kind of disgusting.
As far as the food goes, ordering the Chadol Bagi (brisket) is usually standard. Thinly sliced cuts of meat with a nice piece of fat on it. It cooks fast, it’s soft, and people say it goes well with the Dduk. On a side note, this whole wrapping the meat in Dduk business is a Los Angeles Koreatown thing, not an authentic Korean thing. It’s still good, but I prefer the true Korean way of Ssam… get a nice big leaf of sangchu (cabbage), kkaetneep (perilla leaf), a spoon of rice, meat, and ssamjang… wrap it all and then stuff it in your mouth. You can show your affection for your significant other by wrapping one for him or her and hand feeding him or her. I digress, the meat at Choiganei is good. They also give you complimentary gaeranjjim (steamed egg) and a never ending bowl of dwaenjang jjigae (bean paste jjigae). At the end you can get a bowl of naengmyun too. All for a grand total of $14.99+tax… I mean, can you really complain?
Enter through the back on a small side street called Ingraham which is parallel to Wilshire. It’s on the same block as the Noraebang-turned-Wilshire BBQ with medieval decor-turned overpriced Tahoe Galbi turned-all-you-can-eat behemoth Tahoe Galbi.
3916 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90010