Review of Corea Kalbi
My First visit to an AYCE Korean BBQ
I am going to make the blanket statement that I know very little about the traits that make a good Korean BBQ restaurant. Up until last week, I only visited one Korean BBQ restaurant, but it was a bad experience. With that said, this Korean BBQ novice attended his first All You Can Eat ( AYCE ) experience at Corea Kalbi in Newport Beach.
I visited during a busy Friday lunch with a friend who considers himself to be the Mac Daddy of Korean BBQ and claims to know the best places from Monterey Park to KTown. Apparently for people who visit Korean BBQ, there are strict minimum standards that must be met in order to have a good experience. This novice received a crash course in Korean BBQ sub-culture.
Gogigui literally “meat + roasting”- this is the same as Korean BBQ Bulgogi usually made from thickly sliced beef sirloin or tenderloin. Galbi (Kalibi) made from marinated beef short ribs. AYCE – All you can eat Banchon – Side dishes
Helpful Korean BBQ Terms
Gogigui literally “meat + roasting”- this is the same as Korean BBQ
Bulgogi usually made from thickly sliced beef sirloin or tenderloin.
Galbi (Kalibi) made from marinated beef short ribs.
AYCE – All you can eat
Banchon – Side dishes
AYCE Choices at Corea Calbi
With the Corea Kalbi AYCE menu, you are provided with a list of meats and you select them one at a time to grill at your table.. Since I visited during the lunch, our choices less than dinner. The waitress will bring more meat once you move your cooked meat off the grill. Below are the meats we tried.
We started with the unmarinated bulgogi. The bulgogi sliced in 1/8 thin so that it can cook quickly. Once the waitress drops the meat on the grill it is your job to flip and cook your meat to perfection. My friend showed me how to spread out the meat on the grill ensuring it gets an even heat.
The rib-eye is cut in the royal Kalbi style (thin slices of meat, cut between the bones at the high end of the rib closest to the loin). The beef was definitely of high quality. When it came out it was very lean with some marbling. The meat had a very clean natural beef flavor. I really enjoyed the beef as it was of very high quality.
Soy Marinated Brisket
Next we ordered the soy marinated Certified Angus Beef brisket. It was very amazing. It tasted like it had been marinating overnight, as the sweet and salty flavors ran deep into the meat. Once the brisket hit the grill I could already taste the flavor of the meat in my nostrils.
I began to instantly salivate like a Pavlovian dog. The meat is very thin sliced so the texture is very tender and it also allows the flavor of the meat to pop in your mouth.
Jidori Chicken two Ways
I ordered both the standard soy marinated and the spicy Jidori chicken breast. I was getting full at this point so I asked for just a half-portion of the soy chicken.
The waitress gave me disproving stare like a doting Gramdma looking to fill the belly of her favorite grandchild. Even though I asked for a small portion, she brought out both types of chicken for me (full portion in total). She insisted, “you have to try both, I want you to leave full.” I could not disappoint…I ate it all.
It is perhaps best I don’t have kids, because I would choose favorites. In this situation I LOVED the spicy chicken, it had the perfect balance of spicy flavors, heat and sweetness. The soy marinated chicken was just o.k.
Off the Daily Deal – Kalbi
The day we visited they were running a sale on their Kalbi short-rib. Even though we had just ordered the all you can eat, we decided to go the full hog and order the side of L.A. Kalbi, since it was not on the lunch menu. I am very glad we did because it was the best item on the menu. A large plate of meat arrived at the table and we knew that our stomachs were in trouble.
The meat itself was extremely tender and I was easily able to rip the meat off the bones with my teeth with very little resistance. The meat had the same soy marinate as the brisket and chicken, simply sweet and savory in the same bite.
Korean BBQ comes with banchan (side dishes). These side dishes are expected with Korean BBQ meals. There are very high expectations and snobbery in the Korean BBQ community surrounding the quality and abundance of these side show dishes. On a side note, these are often barely touched even though a big fuss is made about them.
- House Made Kimchi - The kimchi has a medium kick and was full of flavor.
- Bean Sprouts – These were nothing special, although they served as a palate cleanser between meats
- Soy Bean Stew – This is essentially Korean vegetable soup made from a soy bean broth and loaded with chunky vegetables. Our waitress told me “it will make me nice and strong, even more than you already are.” I liked her right away.
- Fish Cakes – Apparently fish cakes are fairly standard fare for Banchan at Korean BBQ. These tasted excellent and had a very mellow flavor.
- Pumpkin – The pumpkin mash was a nice way to clean out the palate and finish off the meal.
- Some tasty fried and leathered noodles – I have no idea what these are called, but I did not care for them.
- Something Extra we ordered - Steamed Egg- Yummy! It was fluffy and delicious. I am an egg whore, so these steamed eggs where right up my alley.
My Final Thoughts on Corea Kalbi
This was my first visit to a Korean BBQ restaurant and from the eyes of this novice, I was extremely impressed with Corea Kalbi. My friend who joined me said that he actually really enjoyed this restaurant and that he thinks it competes with some of his favorites in Monterey Park. “It wasn’t my favorite, but I was very impressed by the quality of meat, sides, and service.” Now that I broke my AYCE Korean BBQ cherry, expect more posts about Orange County Korean BBQ restaurants.