Dear Mr. Gold:
I love Korean barbecue, especially all those side dishes and the bowl of cold noodles afterward, but Soot Bull Jeep is not exactly the most relaxing place to spend an evening, what with the smoke and the din, and it has gotten a little spendy recently anyway. Could you suggest another place for great barbecue in, or near, Koreatown, especially one that is gently priced? The availability of soju is a plus.
Michelle, Los Angeles
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I happen to like Soot Bull Jeep a lot, but one must admit: There are a lot of other barbecue joints in Koreatown. Castle, up on Western near Beverly, is pretty good — the deckle is especially delicious, and the discounted set menus tend to include a bottle of hooch. Shik Do Rak was the first Korean restaurant in Los Angeles to serve barbecue in the style known as dduk bo sam, with floppy rice noodles to wrap the meat up in, and it is a bit more reasonable than most of the Koreatown barbecues. But I suspect what you’re looking for is a restaurant like Chungkiwa, which serves an ample selection of panchan, those side dishes; uses Angus beef for its barbecue; and has a tasty, tangy bowl of naengmyon, those chewy, cold buckwheat noodles, for afterward. And tabs tend to be about a third less than they are at Soot Bull Jeep, which probably explains the large number of students among the regulars. 3545 W. Olympic Blvd., L.A., (323) 737-0809.