Cousin Phil is my favorite person to feast on all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue with. His appetite for animal lifeblood rivals that of a T-Rex and his skills on the grill are top notch. When it’s just The Astronomer and me protein-loading in K-Town, there’s always a possibility that we won’t be able to polish off the final plate of galbi or that we’ll somehow burn the delicate shrimp or squid. However, when Phil’s around, everything is carefully managed and under control.
When a recent business trip brought Phil to Los Angeles for two days, The Astronomer and I whisked him away for a Korean barbecue dinner. After picking him up at his downtown hotel, we made the short drive to DonDay in Koreatown. According to my friend Danny, the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat specials offered good quality and value. Our party of three settled on the $19.99 per person option that included a variety of animals, cuts, and marinades.
Included in the price of admission was a small army of side dishes. The Astronomer and Phil didn’t care too much for the banchan, but they’re my absolute favorite part of Korean dining.
Tonight’s selection included blanched broccoli with sesame oil, pickled daikon, kimchi, macaroni salad, marinaded cucumbers, bamboo shoots with jalapenos, and rice papers. I appreciated how the ladies who run the joint happily refilled my mac salad and rice papers when I ran low.
Also included in the spread was a dish of steamed egg…
…as well as a fresh green salad with a light soy dressing.
And last but not least, a variety of condiments to pair with our proteins. A Korean barbecue feast would not be complete without doenjang, a fermented soy bean paste that adds a hit of pow into every bite. Phil was partial to the raw garlic that toasted up beautifully on the grill.
Before the meat fest commenced, we were served an appetizer comprised of thin slices of rare beef wrapped around radishes and watercress. On the side was a soy and wasabi dipping sauce. This is the first Korean barbecue establishment where I’ve been served an amuse bouche.
For our first round of meats, we chose delicate slices of beef tongue…
…and a huge slab of loin ribeye. Phil sprinkled our steak with coarse salt to season.
When both sides of the steak were perfectly seared, a lady swooped in with a pair of heavy-duty shears to snip it into bite-sized pieces. I nabbed the barely rare pieces because I like my steak on the bloody side. The ribeye was moist, tender, and hit the beefy spot.
Also sharing space with the tongue and steak were shell-on shrimp and lightly marinaded bulgogi. Both were fine additions to our grillin’ spread.
For round two, we requested more of the shrimp and bulgogi, as well as pork shoulder, pork belly, and abomasum, also known as “the fourth and final stomach.”
The lady with the scissors gave the belly, shoulder, and stomach the same snipping treatment when they were half-way cooked. The “fourth and final stomach” was my favorite morsel with its fine chew and superior condiment-adsorbing properties. The shoulder was mostly forgettable.
For our third and final round, we ordered another rib eye. I had pretty much tapped out after eating the majority of the stomach, so this second slab was left up to the boys. Thankfully, their tummies were up to the task, and every last piece of steak was devoured.
300 South Hobart Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90020