Lil' sis snagged a cheap plane ticket up to the Bay Area, except the flight was from Orange County. It's not cheap if I have to drive there to drop her off and pick her up! Nonetheless, it allowed me the opportunity to revisit a few favorites.
When I dropped her off, we stopped off at Saigon Bistro in Westminster for a quick dinner before her flight. Since we had more time after I picked her up, I decided to take her to Seol Ak San in Stanton.
It's my favorite Korean barbecue restaurant in Orange County because the meat is grilled on a rock slab and afterward kimchee fried rice is made on top of it. Plus, there's always at least a dozen different panchan including: the standard Baechu Kimchee (Napa Cabbage Kimchee), Bok Choy Kimchee (Korean Pickled Bok Choy), Sukju Namul (Korean Seasoned Mung Bean Sprouts), macaroni potato salad, broccoli, zucchini, and scallion root kimchee. If you're lucky, sometimes the panchan includes Korean pancake and raw crab kimchee. On this particular night we got 15 different panchan, including two bowls of sliced daikon to wrap around your meats. There's also a large bowl of seasoned lettuce and scallion salad. There was so much panchan that I couldn't fit everything into the photo. Hot tea and mustard are also available but need to be requested.
Every once in a while, a waitress will come by to scrape the rock clean and flip and cut your meats. On this particular night we ordered two portions of Galbi (Korean Marinated Short Ribs) for $20.99 each. The galbi is nicely marinated with a slight sweetness. There's a small amount of marbling of fat for juiciness.
Two orders are needed if you want the free fermented bean and tofu soup.
Otherwise, after your meat is cooked and the waitress has cut the meat off the bone, she makes kimchee fried rice. If you request rice with your meat beforehand then you don't get the fried rice afterward. Anyway, she scrapes the rock clean again. Then dumps kimchee, lettuce, seaweed, and some sauce onto the rock slab. After it's all mixed, allow it to sit for a while so the rice gets a nice crust at the bottom. Then it's ready for you to scoop up and eat.
The finale to the meal is a cup of persimmon sweet drink.
Yes, that's right. The chopsticks holder tells you in Korean and English that "Jesus Loves You." There's also a wooden sign above the cash register that blesses you and your descendants. :P
A word of caution, if the immediate parking spots in front of the restaurant are full, there's parking in the rear. Otherwise, the other businesses will get upset if you take up their spots. I should try the Mad Greek that's right there but somehow when I'm in the neighborhood and have the option of trying the new place versus yummy Korean barbecue, guess where I go?
June 28, 2007 Update:
I revisited Seol Ak San after dinner at Rockin' Crawfish - Westminster (Little Saigon) to introduce Norwegian cousin to Korean barbecue.
This time, we ordered the $16.99 seafood pancake. It's enormous!
Since we had a big group, we ended up seated at a long table. The rock slabs are placed on top of portable burners, and above table level. I think that rather detracts from the cooking and ambiance of the meal. I much prefer sitting in the booths, where the burners are below table level.
The yummy kimchee fried rice made on the rock slab after the meat is all cooked.
Bean paste and tofu stew.
And the sweet rice drink to finish our meal.
With that, we were finally, finally full.
And my cousin could now cross Korean barbecue off her list of foods to try in America.
Other Korean barbecue restaurants:
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Feedable BBQ Buffet - Rowland Heights
Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Hae Jang Chon Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Hwa Ro Korean BBQ and Tofu -San Gabriel
Hwang Hae Do Korean BBQ - Artesia
Light Town House Korean BBQ - Garden Grove (Korean Business District)
Manna Korean BBQ - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Ong Ga Nae Korean BBQ - Rowland Heights
San Ya Restaurant Korean BBQ & Noodle - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Soot Bul Gui Rim 2 Korean BBQ - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Tahoe Galbi Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Seol Ak San
12140 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680
Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Sunday 2 p.m. to 1 a.m.