Truth of the matter is, I’ve done my fair share of Korean Barbecue, and I’m quite proud of that fact.
For my Father, his favorite restaurant in the world is a Korean Barbecue place, one of the best in Los Angeles: Chosun Galbi. Love it. Love it. Love it.
For the food set or Los Angeles, Park’s Barbecue is the place. It is the fact that they are a palace with the best meat in–
–yeah, I’m going to scratch that last part. Doesn’t sound or…feel right.
Park’s has the best food in town. Fine. That works.
But what if there was another place? Another joint featuring some of Los Angeles’s best Barbecue, only this place came with a bit of a curveball…a delicious curveball.
It’s so strange. I’m so connected to Robert Kennedy. My Mother loved him…loved him so much that I think Robert was on the short list to be my first name (behind Malcolm and Martin). I wonder what she would think about how much the neighborhood has changed, how they tore down most of the Ambassador Hotel.
I think she’d be like me, be like Los Angeles. And turn this bad memory into something else, with new ones in their wake.
But hey, enough of these nostalgic flashbacks. Let’s talk Korean Barbecue.
Walking into Soot Bull Jeep, you’ll find it’s pretty black…and I mean actual black, as in black seems to be the dominate color scheme inside. It’s another one of my late lunches, so I’m shuffled off to a seat toward the back, and handed their menu. After ordering (see below), the magic soon begins as the Banchan arrive.
Would Dad be satisfied? Ehhh, maybe. I mean Soot Bull Jeep is treading familiar ground, presenting us the best of collection when it comes to Banchan. Everything I know. Everything I love. No worries here.
The meat arrives, and…only now for the first time do I notice something. For the first time do I see what makes Soot Bull Jeep special.
Them’s charcoal in that pit.
Yeah, real Charcoal. I should have connected it when I walked past the bags of the stuff hanging in the back. Say what you will about the ambiance of Chosun, or the Grub at Park’s…ain’t none of them are doing this. Cooking your food over real, natural charcoal.
And the taste?
Oh the taste…
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: First time I here, and I’m glad to see Soot Bull Jeep has a pretty basic menu. Just the one page for lunch, and at the very top, the very first thing I see (we’ve got a rule about that) the Baby Back Ribs.
I…haven’t had Baby Backs outside of an Southern Barbecue joint. I wonder what Soot Bull Jeep has in store here. Okay. Let’s do it.
The meat arrives, as always, prepared, marinated and ready for the flames. I was able to kick back and let my Server handle everything…and he did a great job. The Ribs went right onto the flames, cooked a bit, then he took Scissors to them, cutting the meat and good fat off the bone, leaving the meat to cook on one side of the pit, and the bones with still some meat on ‘em, on the other side.
The first bite…heaven.
Yeah, as much as I adore the Bulgogi at Chosun (their marinade is familiar to me as my next breath), there is a difference in taste eating Barbecue off real charcoal. It just tastes (and feels different). Even Soot Bull Jeep garlic paste (I think that’s what it was) was just out of this world good. I was sampling little bits off it just with my chopsticks, and…oh Lordy.
Plus, unlike Chosun, they do full service at Lunch. Way, way better in the middle of the afternoon.
Also, while the Banchan overall were good, the Salad was extraordinary.
You get a small salad to kick things off in most places, but this one was incredible. It was covered, I kid you not…in what can only be called a Spicy Vinaigrette. This small salad alone was better than what they give me at Chosun, and the side salad there is damn good. I hope Soot Bull Jeep gives due consideration to bottling that dressing, because man o’ man…
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Soot Bull Jeep is quiet and dark, and it’s not in the most obvious place in Koreatown (directly behind the Robert Kennedy Community Schools). It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s a really special place.
Also, if you come at night, keep your head on a swivel. It’s not a bad or even dangerous part of town, but you might feel a bit isolated.
Also, be sure to let the Servers handle the cooking.
I’ve never sure what to at Korean Barbecue places. At Yakiniku places, you handle the cooking yourself, but here you let the Servers do the work. Sometimes, I can’t help myself, and I grab the tongs, but…really, kick back, relax…and enjoy things.
PARKING: Soot Bull Jeep has it’s own lot right on the property. There aren’t a lot of spots. I didn’t count, but I’m thinking 12-16. I came at lunch, so things were easy. I can imagine things be tough at night. You can try street parking in and around the Robert Kennedy School, but my plan is to here for Dinner and see if they offer Valet during high traffic times.
Soot Bull Jeep
3136 W. 8th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Tel: (213) 387-3865
Daily: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm