So I hadn't been to a Korean BBQ place for let's seeeeee, like 30 years, and recently was determined to end this decades long streak! After polling a few people as to their favorite places, a couple of friends and I decided to make the long drive up to Lynwood where a lot of Korean restaurants reside and chose Ka Won for their table top BBQ experience. Just the very thought of it, as we drove for nearly 45 minutes, brought up many memories of specific types of tastes that my mouth remembers...nutty, spicy and sweet. I guess a whole lot of umami, too, although as a kid I didn't know what the heck that meant! I will always remember the fun I had with my parents going to our favorite place in Vancouver, B.C. at Broadway and Commercial, and getting to sit in those special private seating areas, grilling our own meat and drinking some kind of simple soup with scallions and bean sprouts. It's really those two things, meat and sprouts, that I remember the most. The restaurant hasn't been there for a long time, but every time I go by there even today, I think of eating that amazing food. Ka Won did not disappoint.
I haven't had beef like that for a looooong time, just melting in my mouth with it's sweet glaze, nicely caramelized on the grill. We ordered 2 combination plates (way too much for 5 people!), which included fatty pork, beef, some sort of huge mushroom stems, onions, and squid, which the waitress cooked for us as she put it "because you never been before right?". Well, a couple of us had, but we let her do it anyway, haha! It was pretty funny that she assumed we didn't know what we were doing. It also came with salad which had the MOST delicious sweet sesame soy dressing ever! I was pretty obsessed with it, and I know, it's only salad but it was so yummy! I mean, I'm assuming it was sesame, but who knows...it had a small spice to it too. Anyway, back to the meat, holy moly I had to stop myself from gorging. We also had a side plate of Japchae, which are noodles made from sweet potato and one of my favorite Korean staples - I must say they did a great job on it! Just that plate alone could have fed us all a full meal. And of course we had all the little plates of pickled treats that Korean meals are typically coupled with that you can eat alone or with your food, surrounding our already crowded table. I made a conscious choice not to completely go over the edge with my portions, so I left full, but not dying. It's a good strategy, even if you can't finish everything. What a meal I tell ya! We will definitely be going back.