Featured image: A colorful dish whipped up by Star King BBQ for Linda Kissam. Photo by Roger Paige.
By Linda Kissam
Craving some excellent Korean BBQ? Not just good, but really, really excellent and with a surprising wine twist experience? Boy do I have the place for you! This month’s visit is to the exquisite, yet casual restaurant Star King BBQ. Located in the heart of Korea Town on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles, this specialty wine and dine eatery is a special treat for the eyes, ears, nose and palate. You want it all? You got it!
I like places that take special care planning their menu and the libations that accompany it. Owner Jackie Yoo gets the “Smart Cookie” award for providing the total package to her guests. Ask Jackie what’s special about her restaurant and the first thing she points out is that Star King BBQ is the only Asian restaurant in Los Angeles serving Piedmontese beef. This is an important distinction as the Piedmontese cuts are particularly delicious (think lean and gourmet) and nutritious (low fat content). The cattle producing this beef originated in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy and are now raised in the Great Plains of Nebraska. The breed is genetically remarkable with unique double muscling resulting in very little fat. The cattle are nourished on a pure vegetarian diet. What this means to you tableside is a lean meat dish that is flavorful, tender and juicy. Can you say yum? I did – many many times during my meal.
The Korean dishes at Star King are filled with wonderfully fragrant spices, crisp vegetables and tender meats. They are paired with Korean wine and spirits that are going to rock your world. Guests sit at a table with coal-fired, cooking grills in the center of them. There is just something about grilling at the table that takes a food experience to a whole different level, and no one leaves hungry.
Dishes to ask for include Do Tori Muk Muchim. This is an acorn jelly – made in house – tossed in light sesame dressing with cucumbers, jalapeños, chives and toasted seaweed. Jap-chae: an all-time Korean traditional favorite (glass noodles sautéed with vegetables in a light sweet soy based sauce). The recipe is included below. Piedmontese Brisket Point: thinly sliced brisket point grilled at the table with bean sprouts. Piedmontese Tomahawk Ribeye: 36 ounces of wow!! Brushed lightly with olive oil to caramelize on the grill. Star King’s “signature” Marinated Short Ribs: marinated in a special soy-based marinade for 48 hours. Ban Chan: a traditional Korean arrangement of small bowls of seasonal side dishes that are fermented or pickled and include kimchi, broccolini, spicy anchovies, squash salad, corn and pea salad, and toasted seaweed salad. These colorful side dishes are meant to enhance each dish served.
The following is a list of libations to order and enjoy with any/all of the above dishes. Traditional barley tea. Bokbunja: a not- too sweet, but very inspiring raspberry wine made with Korean black raspberries. It tastes similar to a fruit liqueur or a port and helps cut some of the spicier dishes. Soju: a rice wine which is something like vodka or sake. Most brands of soju are made in South Korea and are traditionally made from rice, wheat, and barley. Makkeoil: a smooth, unfiltered, milky-white rice wine served in a small traditional bowl. Chum-Churum: made of alkali water and tastes better if you shake it up a bit. According to the manufacturer it makes soju take on more distinct characteristics. Because of this, the company suggests you drink it before the soju, as it makes the soju taste better. I liked all of them. You will too.
One final recommendation. Leave enough time to stroll the neighborhood. There is shopping available here that you won’t find elsewhere. I’d suggest you head over to the Paris Baguette Bakery Café, which is just around the corner past some other interesting pho and Korean eateries. Follow your nose to the smell of butter and pastries that envelop all who get near the Paris Baguette’s doorway. It’s all wild, wacky delicious bakery fun. Grab a tray; stack it high with gourmet treats to take home. There are gorgeous pastries from even more gorgeous displays. Check out the pumpkin and black sesame lattes. Order a tea to go in a whimsical little cup painted with two eyes, a striped blue shirt and a little red “beret” which is the lid. If they made a reusable cup of this design, they’d probably make a fortune. It’s definitely a grand ending to a delicious outing.
Star King BBQ is located at 3807 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 120 in Los Angeles. For more information visit their website at www.starkingbbq.com or call (213) 384-5464.
Since I know you love to “taste the place” as much as I do, enjoy this yummy recipe direct from the kitchens of Star King BBQ.
JAPCHAE (Sweet Potato Noodles)
Compliments of Star King BBQ
Jackie Yoo, Owner
The key point of Japchae is chewy sweet potato noodles. To make the noodles chewy, blanch them in boiling water with salt until they are about 80 percent ready. The same is recommended for spinach. Salt is essential when blanching green vegetables because without salt, they can lose the vivid green color and some nutrition such as Vitamin C. To make your Japchae taste even better, you can add mushrooms, paprika, and chili peppers.
How to make JAPCHAE (Sweet Potato Noodles) – Four servings
100g sweet potato noodles
4 shiitake mushrooms
5 tree ear mushrooms
3 T sesame oil
1T Soy sauce
Ground Sesame seeds mixed with salt
1. Blanch spinach, remove water, and season with salt to taste.
2. Blanch sweet potato noodles and drain through a colander.
3. Cut onion, carrot, mushrooms, and cucumber into thin strips and stir-fry in 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil. Remove from pan.
4. Put remaining sesame oil into frying pan and stir-fry sweet potato noodles with soy sauce and sugar.
5. When the sweet potato noodles are done, return stir-fried onion, carrot, mushroom and cucumbers to the pan. Add the blanched spinach and toss together. Top with ground sesame mixed with salt and the dish is ready!