Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cham Sut Gol - Garden Grove

Although we men don't go around hunting things with sharp sticks anymore, the desire to cook and char flesh over the lapping flame seems as much an innate part of ourselves as leaving the toilet seat up.

It is, perhaps, an embrace of the primitive: a fulfillment of our basest, caveman instincts in wanting to see the fruits of the kill sizzle and sputter before we eat it.

I came to this conclusion after thinking about the last two dining outings with guy friends. Both have involved fire and meat. On these two separate occasions, with two separate groups of two different sets of males, we all collectively came up with the same, unanimous decision: we were going to have Korean BBQ.

No one objected or proclaimed they were on a diet. Salad eaters? If there were any among us, they did not identify themselves. Everyone gobbled up just as much meat as the next guy. Bleching was not looked down upon.

And with one group of buddies, every meet up since last year has been at Shik Do Rak, a Korean BBQ in Irvine.

It was here that my mates and I slapped fatty cuts of pig and cattle to brown over searing metal. Partially frozen and bloody slabs of steak and pork belly became hot, juice-dripping, charred swatches of goodness that we'd wrap around rice noodle squares and dunk in salted sesame oil.

But sensing a rut, I did what a good friend would do: for our next outing, I suggested Cham Sut Gol, a highly lauded Korean BBQ in Garden Grove. It would not only satisfy our requirement for fire and meat, but also fulfill another male-only predilection: to consume more food than one's stomach can conceivably hold.

Cham Sut Gol is an all-you-can-eat for one fixed price of $16.99.

Not only that: it is an AYCE from which you don't have to get up from your seat. Simply ask and they'll bring you more.

While my fellow meat-eaters flipped chicken, pork belly, and beef on the hot grates, I was preoccupied with the panchan. Though always customary, Cham Sut Gol's selection looked to be more immaculate and complete than most.

Though I am not saying you should, you could make a complete meal of these sides alone. The cooly refreshing potato salad was creamy without being rich, perhaps the best I've ever tasted. The chap chae noodles wiggled as I slurped. But what I liked most was the fluffy, airy, and savory egg custard served in the metal pot it's cooked in -- it comes free as part of the meal.

At the end of the night, I ate far too much, swigged more soju than I've ever drank to dissipate the accumulated meat grease, and had a great time communing with comrades.

But my mates told me something that shattered my assumption that we were just Neanderthals with indiscriminate tastebuds and bottomless stomachs: they preferred our old haunt, Shik Do Rak, eventhough it wasn't an AYCE. The meat's better there, they said.

Dude! Way to get all civilized.

Cham Sut Gol‎
(714) 590-9292
9252 Garden Grove Blvd # 10
Garden Grove, CA 92844-1436

The Crosby - Santa Ana


At 12:23 AM, Blogger ila said...

i loooove cham sut gol! i must agree though, shik do rak has better meat quality. but cham sut gol has more of a party vibe, imo.

At 2:08 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

You know, if pan fried fish cakes, seaweed, kimchi radishes, kimchi cabbage, and beansprouts are included in the banchan, I COULD make a meal out of it, with a bowl of rice, of course.

My friend has THE BEST bulgogi recipe, if you want to make your own. It's so good that my husband and kids (even the 2 year old) always eat two helpings each. The only change I make is that I use pre-sliced sukiyaki meat from the Japanese market. Anyway, here is the link to the recipe, if you want to try it.

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Bill said...

My favorite joint...
I love the beef rib bone soup here.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Lemony said...

My all-time favorite Korean BBQ place! Their steamed egg dish is so delicious. Fabulous writing, as always.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger mark said...


At 7:25 PM, Anonymous eaterdeltustin said...

Shik do rak in GG also has AYCE. Don't know about dinner, but during lunch it was $12...

Cham sut gol is good and you're making me hungry...Curse you!

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous girlrobot said...

To korean bbq place is complete if they don't offer KALBI! So I don't know why people like this place so much. I do love how they have ice cream for dessert though!

At 8:56 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I like both too. Really, if you gave me a choice, it would be hard to decide which I'd choose. I think it'd be Cham Sut Gol right now, since it does have that awesome egg custard.


Thanks! I do love making bulgogi at home! I cheat and get the store-bought, pre-marinated stuff, simply because I don't know what's involved in the actual recipe. Read: laziness. This recipe seems simple enough to do. Especially with pre-sliced sukiyaki meat! Great idea.


That's the other choice they give you if you don't want the steamed egg custard right?


Hey thanks! If all places offered that steamed egg thing, it would give Cham Sut Gol a run for their $16.99 per head!




Tell me about it. This post made me drool more than most. And I wrote the thing!


To tell you the truth, I didn't even notice that they didn't have kalbi, which is one of my favorite Korean meats...but to me, it's all about the deckle and the pork belly. Extra crispy please!

The ice cream is a nice touch, though I wish someone served it, instead of being communal.

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I wish MM but I love the steam egg. The beef bone soup is extra but I love how it taste. I order it all the time its the msg they put in it that makes it taste so yummy!

At 12:29 PM, Blogger dumplings said...

So, how much Soju did you chase your meat with? I think I had 3 bottles on my own last time I went?

Have you tried Morangak and Lighttown House down the street?

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Inez Valentina said...

You make me crave both Cham Sut Gol and Shik Do Rak. I long for my hair to reek of Korean BBQ.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Ah. Figures. They already give away enough meat anyway!

Now that I think about it, it was a tofu soup or something they offered as a choice, along with the egg custard.

And hey, you know what MSG stands for? Makes Stuff Good! HAHA!


Ah. Um. I'm not much of a drinker, so half of a bottle was a lot of soju for me. But this was a larger bottle than I'm used to. Usually at Shik Do Rak, I'm fine with just a shot or two.

Which do you recommend of Morangak and Light Town House? I've heard good things about LTH.


And your clothes, and your skin too!

At 3:32 AM, Blogger joanh said...

went to shik do rak twice when i was in LA... it's so good!! plus you get the little frozen yogurt at the end.

At 11:56 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

I really need to try one of these AYCE and cook by yourself KBBQ places. All my closest options in my city are lagging behind and are not tasting as good as before! The panchan looks fantastic and I am happy to see some japchae available. Haven't seen that in my KBBQ joint in years!

At 9:43 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Ah yes, Shik Do Rak's yogurt. I usually have to force myself to eat it since I'm soooo full after the meal. But it's required.


Garden Grove has so many KBBQs, each compete with each other in price and quality. But we come out the winner!

At 12:14 PM, Blogger XiaoHei said...

hey, sorry to bother. is it okay for me to grab some photo of yours for a webpage?


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