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Monday, September 20, 2010

Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 1

I felt like I did so much that day after making Feta Cheeseburgers for breakfast for oldest nephew and then departing from San Diego, I stopped off to see the "Images at War's End" exhibit at Camp Pendleton, then lunch with my friend at Banh Cuon Tay Ho 4 - Westminster (Little Saigon) and drinks at TeaZone Lollicup - Westminster (Little Saigon), then work, then I met up with WeezerMonkey and Starchy Marie at Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant in Koreatown. All in one day! Really!

We had been meaning to get together for a while and were trying to decide between an all-you-can-eat or regular Korean restaurant. I suggested Gui Il Bun Ji after seeing Christine of Folie a Choisauce tweet about it. The Yelp reviews seemed pretty good and $16.99 for a choice of more than a dozen meats, plus tons of panchan (Korean side dishes) seemed good to me.

The only difficulty was finding parking. The side streets are pretty packed so $2 valet it was. On a weeknight at 7 p.m. we were seated right away.

The variety of panchan looked pretty good, including some unusual ones like pickled garlic and Gaennip/Kaennip Kimchee (Korean Pickled Sesame/Shiso/Perilla Leaves). At the same price range, I've been eating at Hae Jang Chon Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) or Road to Seoul Korean BBQ, but both restaurants have only about half a dozen lackluster side dishes.

Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 2

Overly fermented Baechu Kimchee (Korean Pickled Napa Cabbage) and Kong Namul (Korean Seasoned Soy Bean Sprouts) for the grill. I really liked the thinly sliced cabbage salad. And the usual assortment of dipping sauces.

Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 3

After ordering our meats, out came this complimentary beef carpaccio appetizer with thinly sliced sesame leaves and chives. Wow! I've never had an all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue that gave us something this nice for free.

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We started off with unmarinated short rib and octopus. Look at that nice beehive cut on the meat. I've never seen that at any other all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue either.

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And thinly sliced tongue. We also got onion slices, mushrooms, and squash for the grill. And the steamed egg.

Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 6

Looks pretty good huh?

While we were eating, the guy at the table next to us said his short rib meat tasted slightly "off" and warned us to beware. Most of it was fine, but WeezerMonkey and I did get a few pieces in which the meat was definitely past its prime. :(

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Next round, we ordered pork belly and brisket. The pork belly was fresh! I've only been served frozen pork belly at other Korean restaurants and it definitely made a difference in taste.

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Round three was the rib finger meat, which is the meat in between the ribs. One of my favorite cuts if you like tendons and chew. They had three kinds of pork shoulder on the menu and WeezerMonkey wanted to try the soy sauce one. I told her that ordering pork shoulder at Korean barbecue might be too much meat. It's akin to eating a pork chop, which is fine as a stand-alone meal, but not when we're already eating so much other meat. Nonetheless, I told her to order it so we can try.

Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 9

The three of us didn't finish the pork shoulder. She said I was right. It was too much meat for Korean barbecue.

However, pork belly on the grill wasn't too much. Funny how that works. :P

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We were stuffed. So that ended the round of meats.

The waiter brought us rice crust porridge.

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And Soon Dubu Kimchee Chigae (Korean Soft Tofu Kimchee Soup). We also had a choice of the bean paste stew.

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I mentioned the variety of meats and panchan to lil' sis and the next time she was home, we came here with our brother and her best friend.

This time, it was a Saturday night, but we still only had a 15 minute wait. Not bad at all for Korean barbecue on a weekend in Koreatown. I've had to wait for an hour at most other restaurants.

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Slightly different side dishes this time with pickled onions and a vinegary broth.

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No beef carpaccio appetizer this time. :(

But, we did get two steamed egg dishes since there were four of us.

And none of the meats tasted "off" this night so I'm glad that one time was an aberration.

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This time, we ordered the black pork belly. Oooh, much better than normal pork belly.

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And the rice came in a large tin with a fried egg on top.

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We also tried the intestines, which were pretty good, if you can get over the part about eating intestines.

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The spicy pork belly was a seasoned piece of pork belly. I was afraid it would be thinly sliced. A little salty for me.

We got extra orders of octopus and tongue and brisket because those were our favorites. Look how prettily the waiter laid out our tongue and brisket on the grill.

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I kept insisting we get porridge and stew afterward, but everyone said they were too full. Oh! And they were out of barley tea this time too. So it's better to go on weekdays when there's no wait, beef carpaccio, and barley tea.

Anyway, the downside, and I really don't want to say it, but there it is -- too much MSG. :(

If you're sensitive to MSG, like I am, it'll be a problem. Both times, I've had bowel issues afterward. :(

But other than that, with the variety of meats and side dishes, and truly the quality is a step up from other all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue places, you should give Gui Il Bun Ji a try.

Other Korean barbecue posts:
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Feedable BBQ Buffet - Rowland Heights
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)
Seol Ak San - Stanton
Soot Bul Gui Rim 2 Korean BBQ - Los Angeles (Koreatown)
Tahoe Galbi Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Gui Il Bun Ji BBQ Restaurant
3055 W. 7th St., Ste. C
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Limited lot and street parking. Valet parking $2.

1 year ago today, honey root beer and Rocky Mountain oysters at Main Street Brewery & Restaurant - Cortez - Colorado.
2 years ago today, How to Make Oven-Dried Tomatoes.
3 years ago today, Pho Pasteur - Rosemead.


  1. I'm so sad that we didn't get the black pork belly, and I'm so sad you didn't get the nice carpaccio during your second visit! That was good!

  2. Sure looks good! I went to Tahoe Galbi under your suggestion, it was OK. This looks better but I'm worried about the MSG...on the flip side I felt Tahoe Galbi meats were too bland. Not enough marinade. Nor was there steamed egg for 17.99. :(

  3. I am amused by the fried egg rice you guys got on your 2nd trip! Interesting. :) Good to see you guys! Again, soon, please.

  4. WeeMo,
    I know! We should've ordered it instead of the pork shoulder loin. I hope the carpaccio makes a comeback.

    Huh! I always thought Tahoe overmarinates their meat. I've been going during lunch since they lowered the prices for that, and I've always gotten the steamed egg each time. Did they forget your steamed egg? Or they told you they don't give it anymore? I like their panchan too. I think pretty fresh for an AYCE KBBQ.

    I really liked the banchan at Gui Il Bun Ji, but the MSG was a bit much. Haha. I might end up going back though if it was a weekend since there's not a long wait for a table so I'll see if it happens again.

    I liked the fried egg! Sooo good.

    We'll need to schedule another meal soon!


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