WHERE KOREAN BBQ GOES HOLLYWOOD
1600 N. Wilcox Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Korean BBQ has been the craze about town for a few years now (long before the Korean BBQ taco truck phenomenon) and BBQ guru Simon Shin has raised the bar a notch and gone Hollywood with the concept.
Opening his Korean BBQ restaurant in Hollywood on the corner of Wilcox and Selma a year ago, Shin, and his celebrity investors including music mogul Steve Aoki, actors Gerard Butler, Chris Masterson, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, and touted music figures Mark Ronson as well as The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, has succeeded with his east meets west approach.
Step into this modern, red-walled restaurant and, if you’re familiar with K-town eateries, one of the first things you’ll notice is no smoke lofting about, that and the hip-hop music being spun. You’re definitely not in K-town anymore!
Shin, a second-generation restaurateur, grew up in the kitchens of his parents’ Koreatown restaurants (Shin Chon Restaurant, E Moon Oak, and Beverly Soon Tofu) where he developed his own variations of his family’s recipes. “As I got older I realized that Korean food could be brought to a larger audience with just a few slight changes. I’m able to offer a menu of classic Korean specialties that everyone can enjoy.
“What matters to me most is the food,” Shin assures. “My passion is the culinary experience. Some of my sauces are marinated for up to 15 days. I won’t take short cuts. I won’t use MSG! And I’ll never compromise the integrity of my family name. I challenge foodies to come and experience what my life in the kitchen has taught me.”
My Saturday night dinner started with a very tasty Korean seafood pancake (seafood and green onions seared in a traditional Korean batter) before opting for the $25 all-you-can-eat menu in order to try as many cuts of meat as possible. This dinner included thin sliced brisket point, marinated Spenser steak (a Korean barbecue staple), Shin’s famous ribs, thick sliced pork belly, spicy pork, BBQ chicken, and spicy chicken.
Shin possesses a light touch when it comes his seasoning as several condiments of nearly a dozen bowls of banchan are provided for you to spice as you see fit. He also utilizes a modern, smokeless tabletop grill as opposed to most of the K-town restaurants where the smoke is sucked up in overhead vents that often leave you reeking of a car fire afterwards. My favorite cuts proved to be the spicy pork and the ribs. Tasty beyond belief!
In addition to the laidback, hipster vibe, another treat at Shin, Zagat's highest rated Korean restaurant in L.A. for 2009, is the accessibility of the staff. Simon Shin walked around and greeted customers making sure everyone was having a good time. And our waitress was extremely hospitable which is in sharp contrast to the androids that often serve you in Koreantown. Our waitress actually smiled, spoke English and offered her insights regarding which spices went best with each particular cut of meat.
I know the lack of customer-friendly treatment is standard at K-town BBQ restaurants but coming from a world where “the customer is always right” and hospitality goes a long way, that slight rudeness that goes on as “business as usual” is somewhat off putting. You wouldn’t put up with that kind of service anywhere else, and at Shin you don’t have to.
Hours of Operation: Lunch: Tuesday - Friday: 11:00am - 2:30pm; Dinner: Tuesday - Friday: 6:30pm - 12:00am, Saturday: 5:00pm - 12:00am, Sunday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm. Closed Monday. Meat, $15-$35; soups, $12-$25; rice, noodles $15. Full bar.
— Jose Martinez