This is the only place in K-town my Korean buddies frequent for their BBQ. I ask them for a Friday night guided tour.
Shik Do Rak is home of the Duk Bo Sam, or the rice noodle wrapper. This appears to be a fact of which they are extremely proud: pictures adorn all restaurant signage, mighty banners wave stoically from surrounding lamposts---duk bo sam everywhere, the Jude Law of BBQ accoutrements.
The first thing to greet the Shik Do Rak visitor is the positively hellish parking scenario. The "lot" has room for ten cars, and yet a hundred vie for attention. Two frantic valets run to and fro, dodging traffic on Olympic, trying to manage the mess. The line of waiting vehicles spills out onto the main street, whilst through-traffic passers-by angrily ride their horns. It takes fifteen minutes just to get out of the car, and I really need a drink.
Eight of us wait a half hour for a table (no reservations taken). Finally upon entry, I notice the slightly grungy interior is equally frenzied: stern, poker-faced waitresses whiz by holding gigantic plates of meat, weaving in between the poorly spaced tables. Diners chatter loudly over the sizzling cacophony. Although the air is pure, this place makes Soot Bull Jeep look like a yoga class.
Instead of grills, there are mid-table circular hot plates for cooking. The Korean contingent of our group handles the ordering, and food rapidly appears. Several plates of rather sorry looking, measly appportioned banchan, usual suspects only. Then, huge combination platters of unmarinated meat: thinly shaved beef, deckle, galbi, and pork belly (basically wide strips of fat)---all of it semi-frozen. Thus far, not promising.
Finally, the waitress unceremoniously plops a pile of thin white squares on a plate between Ms. rabo and I. The infamous duk bo sam. Now we can eat.
Some assembly is required, and this I do by mimicking my Korean friends. Grab a bunch of the shaved lettuce/green onion stuff, pile it on my plate. Take some meat, place it on the heap of greens. Add a dab of either the sesame oil-white pepper sauce, or the seriously heat-packing chile bean paste onto the meat. Maybe a bit of kim-chi or bean sprouts to crown. Last, take duk bo sam, place on top, and wrap like a tiny burrito. Exacting chopstick skills a plus.
It's so much more than the sum of its somewhat unimpressive parts. The little beefy noodle packages are quite outstanding, with both the chile paste and the duk bo sam being key in terms of flavor and texture. It is hard to describe, really, but each element plays off and improves the individual ingredients. Ms. rabo and I exchange a few moaning, heavy-eyed looks of pleasure.
Value is outstanding: three large combination orders (each including veggies, soup, rice, a bottle of soju), four bottles of Hite, and---uh---a few additional sojus (lost count). Eight stuffed, flush-faced folks for $240 before tip.
Service, atmosphere, and, particularly the relaxation factor score goose eggs. I will be back, though, just for the food. Perhaps next time for lunch, via taxi.
Shik Do Rak
2501 W Olympic Blvd (just W of Hoover)
Los Angeles, CA 90006
There is an additional outpost in Garden Grove, for curious OC hounds. IIRC, GG location has received high(er) marks on this board, and is a favorite of Perceptor's.
9691 Garden Grove Blvd
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