A very long time ago, Shilla was put on my radar when I received a press email from the owner. The email listed a bunch of dishes that were signatures, and basically said “Come eat here, you won’t regret it.” I thought to myself, why not, but instead of emailing her back and setting up a press tasting, I went in, unknown to them, for a better feel of the place without special treatment… and proceeded to pig out to high hog heaven. Not like that’s new. Also, I wanted to check the place out because I am a little tired of the regular Korean places I go to in K-town. I wanted to try something different.
After we’d ordered our huge meal, we were brought all our banchan (small complimentary dishes served with Korean meals; sometimes I buy a whole bunch of these and make a meal out of them with some rice… mmm so good). I’m not used to seeing a salad being included, but we were each brought our own salad, a nice touch.
Zucchini or cucumber? in gochujang, slightly spicy.
Water spinach, crunchy glass noodles with veggies, radish ‘kimchi’ (I think this is called gaddukki? spelled wrong here though).
From top to bottom, a dish of gochujang (spicy red pepper paste), kimchi, pickled daikon, another dish of paste, some lettuce to wrap our bbq in, and above that, marinated fishcakes.
We also each received individual plates of this – salt, pepper and I think vinegar (I know I dipped my meat in it later, and enjoyed the extra layer of flavor it added, though I avoided the salt pile since it was a touch too salty for me!).
No, that’s not a scoop of ice cream! It’s mashed potato salad. Normally I love this stuff, but I did find this one a bit dry. Next to it is a dish of black beans… these are chewy nuggets of fun!
Shilla also had blended drinks on the menu, so I ordered mango strawberry. I loved this drink. I recall one flavor overwhelmed the other a little bit, but the consistency and the flavor were sooo yummy… I would go back just to order this, honestly.
I’d never seen kimchi and water placed around the grill, but was told this was to help prevent smoking/burning. Okay! We got to eat the kimchi afterwards, though I opted not to.
Helly my fatty, fatty pork belly.
Special marinated short ribs / galbi. LOVE.
Sooo good. Also, a point to note: I’ve been in many Korean bbq places now. My favorite lets you do the cooking yourself (it’s an all you can eat place, haha, are you surprised?), mostly leaving you to your own devices, only coming over if you look lost or if you ask them to help. Most other places I’ve been to will cut the meat for you, cook it for you and rush over if you try to do things yourself… and are generally pretty brusque, bordering on rude. At Shilla, the entire staff was super helpful and friendly and happy to help, happy to talk to me. I point this out because sometimes I’ve been told by other people (Korean friends) that Korean restaurants aren’t as nice to me as they could be or are to other people because I’m not Korean – whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but I do know that Shilla has, to date, given me the friendliest, nicest service that I’ve ever had in a Korean restaurant. It was a nice change.
It didn’t hurt that the galbi was really delicious – marinated, seasoned properly, and super tender, succulent and delicious. Mmmmmmm.
The press email I’d received had mentioned the gopdol bibimbap, or mixed rice served in a hot stone bowl. I’ve actually never ordered this anywhere, but I know a lot of my friends really like it – basically rice topped with a bunch of veggie banchan, some ground meat (in this case, beef), and a raw egg, you stir it all around and all together in the super hot bowl. It’s so hot the egg cooks immediately, and the whole thing stays hot while you eat. Plus, a rice crust is created on the surface of the dish, which is super nice to eat – crunchy and tasty. Staying hot while I ate made it really difficult to eat this quickly – it was so darn hot while I ate it, which I imagine is generally considered a good thing – I’m just weird. Well, also, it’s summer. But that’s me being weird, not a fault of theirs. I found this super tasty and will be ordering this again… it was quite yummy.
The jhapchae, or glass noodles with meat and veggies, was also mentioned as being quite good. I wasn’t quite that enamored of it – it looks a bit ‘wet’ and I’m used to it being much fluffier and lighter – but it still tasted fine, just not to my personal liking.
To cap the meal off, an ice cold yogurt drink, yum!
Yvo says: I really enjoyed my meal at Shilla. While the prices were similar to the rest of K-town – that is, not really cheap – the menu says they have lunch specials, some of which fall in the under-$10 range, and I’d like to go back and check that out. Of course I’ll report back on that when I get around to it… But I think I’ve found my new go-to place for Korean BBQ in Koreatown! Very tasty stuff and the excellent service really puts it over the top. Nom!
The total bill came out to around $100, which is about right for two people at Korean BBQ in Koreatown, though I think we (I) overordered a little bit. As I mentioned and reiterate here, though I was invited for a tasting, it only alerted me to this place; we paid for our own meal. Maybe next time I’ll accept a tasting 🙂