Flower Meat & Mel Gibson at Park’s BBQ – LA
I wanted to hit up one Korean barbecue restaurant while in Los Angeles, and after some online research and a few conversations with friends, it seemed Park’s BBQ (박대감네) was the way to go. A few days later when David’s friend Irvin texted suggesting we meet at Park’s, it seemed meant to be. So on Day 6, a few hours after bun bo Hue, David and I met up with Irvin and his girlfriend, Sarah, for some classic Korean bonding over meat and beer.
Park’s is famous for their Prime Ggot Sal, or American Wagyu ggotsal (꽃살; $33). Literally “flower meat” in Korean, ggotsal is rib-eye with intricate flower-like marbling. Because of the fat, the meat is very tender, but also very greasy. One bite and your mouth is full of beefy oil. It reminded me of the galbi I had at Takashi a few months ago, which although good, I didn’t find amazing. It was also a bit bland, so I’d suggest making use of the condiments on the side. Soy sauce with wasabi and salsa (crazy!) is provided, but a little coarse salt or ssamjang (쌈장), a mixture of soybean and chili paste, works best.
Seasoned Gal-bi (양념갈비; $35) was also good, especially if you like galbi on the sweeter side. Personally, I like galbi a little less sweet, but that’s just me.
My favorite of the night was the Special Pork Belly (특생오겹살; $26), Tokyo X ohkyupsal. (Ohgyupsal is similar to samgyupsal, but five layers instead of three because it includes skin.) The pork was very meaty and also very fatty. Speaking of oil squirting in your mouth, in this case I didn’t mind it at all because it was glorious pork-flavored oil as opposed to bland beef oil. Again, it’s a preference. If you prefer fatty beef, go for ggotsal, if you prefer fatty pork, go for pork belly. But in either case, ask for over-ripe kimchi to grill if they don’t give it to you. It helps cut the grease, which you’ll need, especially if you like to dip your ohgyupsal in salted sesame oil like I do.
And then after all the grilling and dipping, wrap your meat of choice in a thin layer of rice cake, or dduk ssam (떡쌈). Dduk ssam is big in LA, but not so much in New York. I like dduk ssam because it’s like a sheet of concentrated carbs with a bit of chewiness. No need for rice.
I’d say the food at Park’s BBQ isn’t revolutionary, but it’s solid, quality stuff. Fresh too. The meat is delivered daily. It’s also a celebrity magnet, which is always fun. On the way out, I spotted Mel Gibson chowing down on some barbecue. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Who knows, but like Park’s, it was definitely an experience.