On Saturday, my friends and I headed down to Koreatown for the Korean BBQ Festival and Cook-Off. Korean BBQ is known to be heavy in meat, so I felt this would be a great opportunity to tackle my daily meat intake.
The festival ran from 12:00-5:00 and although we arrived around 1:00, the lines were already getting pretty long. I wasn’t too surprised by the long lines since the event was free, plus $10 per plate.
Assuming the longest lines had the best food, I jumped into one of the lines without
even knowing what it was. This was one of the areas in which the festival could have improved. If they had put the signs above the booths rather than on the table, I would have really been able to decided where to go. Instead, I (and likely a lot of other people) just jumped in a random line. Eventually a friend joined me and held my place so I could find out. I went to the front and saw that it was called the Beverly Tofu House. The name scared me a bit, considering tofu is typically the unvegan enemy, but the food I saw being unloaded was plenty meaty. I went back to my spot in line and devised a plan: My friend would hold my spot in line while I went to a different booth with a shorter line and brought the food back for us to eat in line. The plan was genius, and I set off.
One key component to my plan, which I neglected to tell my friend, was that I was also looking for a place without kimchee. I know it is almost sacrilegious to like Korean food without liking kimchee, so I was afraid to announce my disdain for the strangely pickled cabbage out loud for fear that I would have been kicked out of the event. But now that I am far removed from Koreatown, I feel comfortable announcing that kimchee might be one of the worst foods I’ve ever accidentally tasted. Luckily, I quickly found a place called So Hyang with a short line and no kimchee.
After five minutes, I returned to my place in the other line again, but this time with a plate full of meat and salad. Luckily my friend was not of the unvegan persuasion and ate the salad while I ate most of the meat. The meat was from a cow, but damned if I could say which part. I had watched as one of the workers cut little slices of beef with meat scissors, but I still had no idea what to call the cuts . There was also a massive bone on the plate, probably meant to say where the beef came from, but I’m no cow scientist. The beef slices were really tasty and although I could see the fat glistening in the sun, the fat didn’t distract from the tastiness.
While waiting in line, we got to watch an eating contest that was put on by the event organizers. Apparently people had signed up without knowing what they would have to eat. I secretly hoped it would be dog or some sort of organ meat, but instead it was a dry Korean snack called Choco Pie. This was a little disappointing, but still somewhat entertaining.
About 30 minutes later, we finally arrived at the front of the line at the Tofu House. There we were given a plate full of short ribs, pickled vegetables, rice and potatoes. Once again, I allowed my buddy to have his way with the vegetables while I concentrated on the short ribs. These were definitely worth waiting in line for, but probably not for as long as we just had. The meat was deliciously seasoned and perfectly cooked.
When I was done, I still wanted to try more Korean food. Unfortunately, the lines had grown too long to be worth it. Even the previously short So Hyang had gained a huge following.
For the first year of an event, I was pretty impressed by the outcome, but they definitely have some kinks they need to work out. Better sign placement and preparing meat ahead of time would have gone a long way in making the Korean BBQ Festival and Cook-Off an even more memorable event.