Savory and meaty Korean fare stars on the menu at Bulnanjib, where griddles crackle beneath octopus and short ribs with thick, peppery sauces. Diners start by sampling bites of seafood pancakes or dumplings, then take sips of imported Asian beers and Korean alcohol while choosing the rest of their meal. Hearty stews pour forth steam like robots trying to process the ending of The Giving Tree, and the earthy aroma of fermentation drifts from dishes of kimchi.
Kor-BQ specializes in Korean tacos, or "takos," whose myriad blasts of flavors seem to defy their simple construction. Marinated meats such as short rib, rib eye, and pork form the basis of these fusion delicacies, while a Korean fusion salsa and sesame seeds add the zesty kick. The tacos come three ways: with a cilantro and onion mix, dressed in lettuce slaw and drizzled with soy sauce vinaigrette, or "nude," a style that foregoes the fixings to avoid cilantro-shaped tan lines. Those who prefer to use a spoon instead of their hands can find similar sustenance in the rice bowls, which feature hearty mixes of marinated meat, sautéed vegetables, clear glass noodles, and lettuce slaw with vinaigrette.
Named after the Korean word for meat, GOGHEE Korean BBQ Tacos began as a simple drive-thru shack, where guests could grab tofu tacos or Korean chili-sauce pork burritos inspired by equal parts Asian street food and no-frills Mexican fare. Now, owners Janice and Terry continue that tradition in a new permanent brick-and-mortar diner where they offer Kor-Mex fusion food, a combination of Korean BBQ and Mexican tortillas. Like the world’s most complicated bus system, their menu brings together three disparate parts of the globe, introducing American fries to crispy-spicy kimchi or Mexican carnitas to a ginger garlic marinade, as well as Korean BBQ's ginger-soy marinated meat accompanied by zesty soy-vinaigrette-dressed lettuce. Guests sample extras, such as the crispy tortilla chips and Korean chocolate-covered cracker sticks, or build their own plate of nachos, tacos, or salad with ingredients such as soy-marinated short rib, chili-kissed chicken, brown rice, and jalapeno salsa.
Under a high ceiling strewn with glowing spherical lanterns, guests at Spoon warm their palates with tangy kimchi, spicy ramen, and plates of steaming bulgogi with barbecued beef or pork. These classic Korean dishes evenly distribute a savory aroma through the air of the two-level, lounge-like restaurant, and cobalt-blue lights focus attention on the stocked bar area on the ground floor. As friends get started with a round of drinks, they can share baskets of fried calamari or soft-shell crab or head up to the wrap-around balcony to admire other patrons' head tattoos.
The name WooGak—meaning “realize taste of beef” in Korean—fits this modern eatery to a tee, as chefs rouse all the senses by grilling succulent meats tableside in front of diners’ eyes. Cobblestone floors lead the way from the bright entrance into a spacious, contemporary dining area, where gold walls surround simple black tables. Amid this open and airy space, grill-masters prepare 14 types of barbecue including braised beef, pork belly, and short ribs. Vegetarian options abound with tofu-packed rice bowls and sides of spicy kimchi, the favorite piñata filling of film star Shaquille O’Neal.