The Best Galbi in Los Angeles

Feed Your Seoul with Galbi

Galbi jjim at Olympic Cheonggukjang | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Galbi jjim at Olympic Cheonggukjang | Photo by Joshua Lurie


Short ribs are popular in cuisines worldwide, but Korean kitchens have a particular knack for preparing galbi, as said ribs are known. In Korean (or Korean-American) culture, special occasions and celebrations call for galbi. Short ribs - frequently beef, but possibly pork - are braised, grilled, steamed, shredded and more, with delicious results. Read on and discover some of the best Korean galbi dishes in Los Angeles.

Galbi at Beverly Soon Tofu | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Galbi at Beverly Soon Tofu | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Beverly Soon Tofu



Koreatown has increased considerably in scale and scope since Monica Lee opened Beverly Soon Tofu in 1986. Her current mini mall location resembles a mountain cabin complete with tables, benches and stools crafted from crosscut trees. The signature specialty is made from soybeans, but Beverly Soon Tofu also serves standout galbi on a cast iron platter. The galbi bathes in soy sauce and sizzles on a bed of onions that caramelize in the runoff. The tender slices are garnished with scallion and sesame seed.

Spicy steamed marinated short ribs at DGM Kisasikdang | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Spicy steamed marinated short ribs at DGM Kisasikdang | Photo by Joshua Lurie

DGM Kisasikdang



Dwit Gol Mok (aka DGM) is a legendary Koreatown dive with a semi-hidden entrance, worn wood booths, and very few inches of wall that haven’t been tagged. The owners debuted a far nicer version, DGM Kisasikdang, in May 2016. Enter through the back, beneath a red awning, and find grey, orange and corrugated metal walls with two flat screen TVs. Don’t even think of uncapping a Sharpie in this setting. Their spicy steamed marinated short ribs are a star dish, with tender slabs served in a bubbling cauldron with glass noodles, mushrooms, rice cakes, scallions, and more. Keep white rice or ice water handy, since the dish’s spice builds with every bite.

Short ribs at Genwa Korean BBQ | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Short ribs at Genwa Korean BBQ | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Genwa Korean BBQ - Beverly Hills



Genwa proved popular in Mid-Wilshire thanks to plentiful banchan and high-quality meat. The Restaurant Row spinoff is even fancier, with alternating white and red panels along La Cienega Boulevard, a pink façade, and wood-framed booths. Prime galbi is available in galbi tang (soup) and galbi jjim (braised with vegetables and herbs). Galbi are unseasoned short ribs for grilling. Kot sal are sliced and unseasoned. They also have Wagyu versions for ballers. At lunch, they cook prime galbi in the kitchen and serve it on a sizzling iron skillet lined with caramelized onions. The meat is fantastic, with tender rectangles marinated in soy sauce, pear, kiwi, garlic, ginger, sugar, and cornstarch.

Kogi BBQ tacos | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Kogi BBQ tacos | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Kogi Taqueria



The Korean-influenced taco concept, which helped to kickstart chef Roy Choi’s global reputation, now encompasses a fleet of three trucks that roam L.A. and Orange County, each named for a different color. In 2016, Choi opened Kogi Taqueria, the concept’s first brick and mortar outpost, in a Palms strip mall. The iconic taco that started the Kogi craze combines marinated short rib, sesame-chile salsa roja, crisp romaine lettuce and cabbage, Korean chili-soy vinaigrette, cilantro-green onion-lime relish that contributes bright acidity, crushed sesame seeds and sea salt.

Olympic Cheonggukjang



This homey restaurant in a strip mall on the fringe of Koreatown may specialize in fermented soybean stew, but don’t sleep on their galbi jjim, a wonderful bowl of braised short ribs. Huge chunks of beef luxuriate in a fire-red sludge of soy sauce, sugar, garlic and “other vegetables,” which render the meat tender while imparting powerful flavor down to the bone. A sauce this concentrated calls for an adjacent bowl of steamed white rice.

Parks BBQ



Even though Koreatown now has a preponderance of bargain basement, all-you-can-eat barbecue joints, Park’s BBQ chef-owner Jenee Kim remains committed to quality, which comes at a premium. The high standards clearly haven’t affected business - actors, K-pop stars, athletes and anonymous ballers continue to fill tables, which all tout charcoal grills. Their prime beef short rib is available marinated or undressed. Either way, they carve a diamond pattern in the meat, which maximizes tenderness. Wrap the results in lettuce with fermented bean paste, raw garlic and jalapenos, which pack a savory punch.

Steamed beef short rib at Seongbukdong | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Steamed beef short rib at Seongbukdong | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Seongbukdong



It’s fitting that galbi jjim was previously reserved for Korea’s upper class. After all, Young-hee Shon’s restaurant, Seoungbukdong is named for a wealthy neighborhood in Seoul, home to the Presidential Palace. However, even though her steamed beef short rib may be stately, the food and service are warm and welcoming. The meat is marinated with soy sauce and sugar, then steamed and braised with mild Japanese peppers. The savory dish is served in a homey bowl, scissor-cut so the chunks are easier to eat, and dusted with sesame seeds. Eat the galbi with mixed rice, which incorporates wild grains and red bean.

Maeum galbi jjim at Soban | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Maeum galbi jjim at Soban | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Soban



Even though Soban’s setting is fairly simple, Si Woo Yoo has managed to build destination status with Angelenos who crave refined Korean food and people feting out-of-towners. The chef-owner is a master at building sauces and braising proteins in those sauces, whether the main ingredients come from the sea or land. Soban’s maeum galbi jjim stars spicy short ribs braised in a spicy soy sauce with earthy chestnuts and ginkgo nuts, along with sweet dates and jujubes. Onions, scallions, and sesame seeds join the fun. The server will cut the meat with scissors, creating easy picking at the tender, savory chunks, which occasionally have a bit of chewy cartilage attached. This is great eating with rice.

Sun Nong Dan

Sun Nong Dan



This 24/7 restaurant resides in a highly competitive Koreatown strip mall. Sun Nong Dan features Hangul lettering on the walls and specializes in beef stews and soups. Your best bet just might be their braised oxtail and short rib stew, which combines two cuts of tender beef - the largest portion could feed a football team. The intoxicating braising liquid works its magic in a massive pot, contributing a judicious amount of spice to the tender meat, along with potatoes, onions, scallions, carrots and dduk (chewy, cylindrical rice cakes). The scalding metal pot sears the chunks of meat and vegetable that settle at the base, to magical effect.