This month, a rather designer-cute Korean food blog birthed in (presumably) LA. This post is to counter that entire blog, past and future, by demonstrating how much Korean food, especially the monotonous humdrum often served in Koreatown, sucks pink donkey anus.
Korean cuisine is a 2 trick donkey. Inevitably, if you go to a Ktown restaurant (not bar/pojangmacha), if you’re lucky, you’ll be offered 2 things: big red bowls of sop looking like neon afterbirth, or plates of self grill flesh*. That’s it. If interrogated, even Koreans will admit that is all they eat, at least in America. Anecdotal evidence provides panchan as not entrees, hence do not count in this culinary math equation of “bloody bowl + raw meat plate = 2 dishes in every Korean Menu”. A side of greens by the KBBQ grill negates this law, you say? Nope, that’s just an accoutrement to the 50% of all Korean dishes. What about dduk, the smart Korean kid from UCLA asks. Not even close. It’s a meat vehicle which a Korean deploys as to not appear a Neanderthal when grappling blackened meat.
Ttu Rak, the restaurant touted for its excellent galbi jiim, is a prime proof of the 2 dish K-menu theorem. Here, galbi jiim (stewed beef short rib) is the star, and the mae-un (spicy) galbi jiim is the fame whore in the all girls pop group (think YoonA of SNSD). Every other entree at Ttu Rak is one ingredient away from galbi jiim. That’s it, that’s all you get from the 2 page menu. There’s concise, and there’s shameful.
But that’s not where the stupidity ends. Koreans are bad with math, or rather, they’re so good at math, the clientele (at least those any decent with numbers) inevitable feeling violated every time after dining in K-soup hole-in the wall. Ttu Rak exemplifies this use of fuzzy logic. One order of galbi jiim comes in a dolsot stonepot and is nearly filling for one despite being rather stingy on the protein. A double order of galbi jiim is served in a deep pan with a large footprint, and is obviously meant for 3. God forbid a “problematic” situation of a boyfriend/girlfriend twofer decides to dine at Tttu Rak. They’d be met with an insane $32++ bill after ordering only 1 entree, and pile of fried rice to go. Yes, Ttu-rak also performs the K-fried rice postscript dance. A double order of galbi jiim comes with a beefy jus infused kimchi fried riced at meal’s end; single order gets squat. A double order gets to slowly simmer on top of a portable butane stove; single order forces speed eating. A mentally sound person, capable of any analytical thought, is forced by restaurant regime into ordering double portions.
As if the situation isn’t bad enough, there’s the offensive issue of gastro-monotony. With every table attracted to the glamor of tabletop fire, no one (save at lunch time) orders single portions. The entire table is forced to eat one item, and one item alone. While the mae-un galbi jiim is packed with addictive glutamates and spice, any avid fan of Asian cuisine would be saddened by the ennui caused by a Ttu Rak meal. Argumentative types will immediately point out the plethora of complimentary pancha plates in Korean restaurants — and Ttu Rak differs not — but the key point is this: If I’m paying for the food and I selected the restaurant, I want to order. Half of all panchan at every Korean restaurant suck pink donkey balls, and I resent paying for them. I resent having the costs built into an supersized and awkwardly portioned pot of puerile stew.
Ttu Rak isn’t the only nutter doing this 1+1=3 arithmetic, nearly every Korean stew-on-burner restaurant offends the same, e.g. Mirak (black goat stew), Mapo (spicy dalk kalbi), ad nauseam. The uber nice ajuma at Mapo, a 2 decade old restaurant, straight up offered: “Why do you eat here, it’s so expensive. This is stir fried chicken”. Word, grandma, word.
* Ovioiusly there are random houses of carbs and soondae joints in Ktown, but statistically, that’s the anomaly.
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