Signage on the street was minimal, but visitors needed only follow the great cloud of smoke rising over Wilshire, and the mouth-watering scent of charred beef and pork, to find the 2nd annual Korean BBQ Cook-Off this weekend in Los Angeles.
Clockwise from top left: galbi sausage with kimchi on a brioche bun (Seoul Sausage Company), traditional bulgogi (Soowon Galbi); cheeseburger (Kalbi Burger); spicy pork ribs (Ham Ji Park); LA galbi (BDC Tofu House)
Any repeat attendee could tell that the contest’s organizers learned a lot from last year. With a bigger venue, printed vendor maps, voucher system for meals and drinks, and plenty of port-a-pots, this time around the cook-off evidently resolved the overcrowding, inspection delays, and food shortage issues of the inaugural event.
Waiting in line for Ham Ji Park
Food Comma also learned something from last year. Upon arrival, my companions and I purchased several vouchers and then fanned out, each getting in a different line so we could reconvene with a variety of dishes to share. The longest lines by far were for Kalbi Burger and Ham Ji Park, whose customers waited for up to 45 minutes. Lines for some other restaurants, like Soowon Galbi and O Dae San, were only a few people deep.
Judges Jonathan Gold, Ludo Lefebvre, and Sandra Oh
Again, we skipped the Choco-Pie eating contest, and missed the soju mix-off, but were sure to catch the awards ceremony featuring Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Gold, rock star chef of the moment Ludo Lefebvre, actress Sandra Oh, and councilmember Herb Wesson. Park's BBQ, a franchise of a Korea-based restaurant, took top honors and was also deemed the fave of Chef Ludo, who said he found inspiration at the cook-off for next week's LudoBites menu.
More pics from the Korean BBQ Cook-Off:
Jonathan Gold greeted fans after the cook-off
Photo op with Hite Man
Chef Ludo declared his passion for kimchi