Foodie at Red Palace

A decent feast from an All-You-Can-Eat Korean BBQ may be burdensome to discover, whether it’d be LA’s Koreatown or the city of Garden Grove–either (or both) at utter inconvenience or a painstaking adventure when it comes to parking for restaurants in draconian mode for their “No Reservations” policy.

Enter Cerritos’ Red Palace, clandestinely shunned from the evidently busy sections in utter proximity of the Cerritos Center [Mall.]  At the corner of South Street and Bloomfield Ave, it’s forced to expose some ostentation due to its crippling plaza, where barely half of the venues remain in business.  Even before opening its door, behind the Red Palace’s transparent facade you can easily glare at the rosy walls illuminated with these incandescent lights.

Another remark within the smallish interior is that there’s a separate room designated for large, celebratory groups.  My friend, who recommended me to give them a go, warned that on one of his visits (yep, he ate there at least twice) there were 2 massive, independent parties that conquered over 1/3 of the restaurants’ maximum capacity.

But more than a recommendation I had a ravenous drive for this neighborhood KBBQ adventure.  So I texted a fellow foodie friend, crossing my fingers she would tag along this meaty challenge.  Thankfully, within hours us 2 were on a whim to indulge carnivorously before we’re back to our normal healthy habits at the commencement of 2014.

At almost 3 weeks of establishment, the AYCE treatment offered 3 options, depending on the table’s quantitative needs.  Letter A has 6 different meat varieties–i.e. Beef Brisket, Marinated Pork Bulgogi, Beef Belly, Pork Belly, Pork Steak, and Marinated Chicken–at $9.99 per person.  Add 8 more meats create Letter B, at $13.99 per person.  If your hunger beats out vehemently, the Letter C at $17.99 per person combines A, B, and 5 more plates of protein.  The best part is that, as of this post, these prices remain constant, no matter the peak hours–and a tidbit discount if you own a valid college student ID.

We 2 stayed within our precious budget and went for Letter A.

$17.99 for 19 Choices. Math Time!

Along with the obviously carnivorous bonanza comes with a bowl of vinaigrette-drenched salad and [mostly] vegetarian accessories, i.e. Banchan.  Here they’ll hospitably treat their customers with 6 different side dishes–but keep in mind that not all 6 will, on a given day, be the exact same on, say, 3 days later.
Salad w/ the Banchan & Rice Paper (bottom right)

Another kicker: complimentary Miso Soup, with its golden teapot figuratively hanging by our side.

Not so often I’ve came across other KBBQs where sauce caddies are readily at hand, like traditional ketchup and hot sauce in old school diners, thus myself prudently squeezing them into our individual saucers.
Chili Sauce, Salt, & Shake “Before” Use Vinegar-Based Sauce
Sesame Oil, Vinegar-Based Sauce, and Chili Sauce–Saucy Much?!
Slowly my gal friend and I chomped bit by bit with our Banchan, taking a little fun with the crisp-textured pickled vegetables–i.e. Kimchi–steadfast Potato Salad (without that nastily excess mayo), fresh Sprouts, and almost addicitve, triangular-shaped Fish Cakes.  Few, meticulous minutes later…
Marinated Pork Bulgogi & Slices of Beef Brisket

Our grill, smack in the center of our table (to inform any readers who may not be that familiar with traditional KBBQ), was now on fire and ready for some sizzle!
 The Sound of Yum…

Few minutes were minimally needed to darken the delicious Beef Brisket, while the eyes and common judgement were aimed for the slightly citrus-y and equally scrumptious Marinated Pork Bulgogi.  I smothered the brisket with that sesame oil with that shaved salt for my personal love of savory, salty goodness.  Usually I’d eat these meats wrapped in that Rice Paper like a bite-sized taco.  However, this night’s version of the carb sheets were strangely not in my favor, postulating for its subtle dryness–though they did fold up nicely.  So, going low carb with the salad I moved on.
Then…

Pork Belly
I tried this unwritten trick that some of my Korean friends taught me how to grill this more deliciously–one by cooking this after the settlement of cow grease from the Brisket (thus intentionally presented it after that gargantuan plate).

But suddenly, our busser, though sweet, awkwardly arrived at the wrong time by switching our already stupefied grill rack into a clean, sterile, and cool metal contraption.  As a result, the Pork Belly was coerced to stick to this new, cold fellow and, at their well done phase, my mouth caressed that plain, tough, average pork taste.  Moral of the story: insist the busser to change the rack after you’re done cooking the fattened bacon.

And we’re still not done…

Beef Belly (front) & the more lightly colored Beef Brisket (behind)
Thanks to the Beef Belly’s insanely marbled delight, that gave off a richer desire, which also brings in another adage: Beef Belly is recommended to be grilled and consumed before Pork Belly’s landing.

In conclusive stance, how was the quality of their meats?  All in all, favorable; obviously it wouldn’t look natural for the Beef Belly slices to appear so beautifully wrapped. And the service?  Oh my, they brought in 2 tongs (so one consumer doesn’t necessarily have to be responsible for all the cooking), and they were the calmest and most approachable I have dealt through, especially when it came to countless, fast-paced, and steamy KBBQ quests.  And did we 2 petite Asian females finish it all in this local gem?  Let’s just say somebody with a silly moniker ate more than 1/2 of the overall batch–and her friend can attest.

And we left with minimal, meaty reeks, but that would depend on how many people will attend to their own, palatial palate.  Bonus: ask for some raw garlic!

Grade: B

Red Palace
19105 Bloomfield Ave.
Cerritos, CA 90703
(562) 860-8867

Red Palace Korean BBQ on Urbanspoon

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