This week, Jonathan Gold gives his thoughts on Hanjip, chef Chris Oh's Korean barbecue restaurant in Culver City. The Golderster has fun with the review, all while giving his take on eating and drinking at the hip Stephane Bombet-backed establishment:
It's the East-meets-West of KBBQ
"This is Western food served in a Korean context, satisfactory whether you enjoy it with red wine or a shot of soju, whether you dab your bite of steak with fermented soybean paste or sprinkle it with a grain or two of salt."
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that bling
"The idea, Oh has said, was not to revolutionize Korean barbecue, but to trick it out with a little bling."
Go for the ribeye
"The essential dish at Hanjip is probably the rib-eye, a handsome steak, prime or close to it, grilled to a beautiful medium rare. There is nothing like a steakhouse char on the meat — an attractive bronzing at best — and there is nothing in the way of a crust or aggressive seasoning, but the flavor is clear, and the beef is spurtingly rich. It's not A-5 Wagyu, but it is lovely. It might go nicely with a bottle of Lirac."
The poutine is a drunk food dream
"So there is that poutine, a souvenir of Seoul Sausage, which involves crisp Suzy-Q French fries, a squirt of mayonnaise, a pile of the sliced, grilled beef called bulgogi and a handful of the bright-red marinated onions that have spread from the Yucatan to half the restaurants in town — Oh's drunk-food classic."
But not the kimchi fried rice or hot wings
"What you probably don't want are the things you may think you should be having, like the kimchi fried rice, which turns out to be a bland, under-realized version of dosirak, the shaken lunch box beloved at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, or the hot wings, which will not make the owners of KyoChon stay up nights."
J. Gold doesn't go for the bone luge post-corn cheese
"You scoop the roasted marrow from the bone into the corn — not bad. And if you are inebriated enough, I hear, you can chug soju through the emptied bone. Tell me how that goes."
Or watermelon soju
"If you have made the choice to visit Culver City instead of Koreatown, you have also probably made the choice to indulge in Hanjip's watermelon soju, which is to say a halved watermelon shell filled with watermelon balls, Fruity Pebbles and Pop Rocks straight from the package, over which a bottle of soju is upended until the concoction shivers and shakes like a sugary Technicolor nightmare. Does that sound good to you? Stay strong, my friend."