Cham Soot Gol - Rowland Heights
There are Korean BBQ's everywhere these days. Shik Do Rak, Mo Ran Gak, Icheonwon, Go Goo Ryeo--these are just a few of the bigger players. Some do all-you-can-eat. Some don’t. All are there intent to stuff you full of beef, and pork, and chicken, or whatever else can conceivably be roasted and charred atop a table grill. If you don’t leave reeking of smoke and so overfed you feel like dying, you’ve done it all wrong.
You need not go to LA’s Koreatown or Garden Grove’s Korean District to feast on KBBQ. On the Colima Rd. corridor in Rowland Heights, where a small Korean community has sprouted, Cham Soot Gol has to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest KBBQ joint in the neighborhood. It looks like the grand-aunt of all the others I’ve mentioned and it is related to the one in LA and the one in OC. The tables are worn; a few of the plates are warped from being too close to the heat; and the room is dark and dank, and not on purpose.
The servers, by the way, will look like grand-aunts themselves. And for the first few minutes of service, before they attend to the other nieces and nephews, they’ll treat you like one of their own, snipping your kalbi into bite-sized pieces.
This particular Cham Soot Gol is also one of the few places I’ve eaten Korean BBQ where actual charcoal is still employed. The one in Garden Grove stopped doing it a long time ago. Chunks of it are crammed just above the gas burners. That it adds a special smokiness to the meat (not to mention your clothes and hair follicles) should be obvious.
Cham Soot Gol is an AYCE. You probably don’t need to order anything other than the cheapest option called the Special D which retails for $16.99 and gives you round after round of brisket, squid, chicken, shrimp, pork belly and spicy pork. The shrimp is particularly sweet; the thin-shaved brisket melts just like you expect it would. Here, like everywhere else, you wrap the finished morsels around squares of oiled noodle called dduk. Included with all meals is salad, a good array of panchan dishes, a soondubu (soft tofu soup) and best of all, a fluffy, light as foam steamed egg that’s a signature of the Cham Soot Gol family of restaurants.
Yes, the latter is filler designed to throttle your meat consumption so that you don’t eat them out of their profits; but have it anyway. It's good for you.
Cham Soot Gol
18722 Colima Rd. Ste E
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
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