Friday, February 15, 2013

REVIEW | California Gogi Korean Grill

California Gogi Korean Grill

To-go packaging!
Sweet potato fries + fat burrito

University Town Center
4237 Campus Drive Suite B157
Irvine, CA 92612
Phone: (949) 854-0000

(will post when I verify)

Quick Tips:
- Korean BBQ burritos, tacos, and sammiches
- College student budget friendly
- Generous portions
- Sweet potato fries



Korean...tacos/burritos? Sounds weird/amazing but if you've by chance been able to chase down the mysterious Kogi Truck that travels around the country bringing Korean fusion to literally hoards of people waiting for hours, you'll understand why people are flocking to this novelty. The best way I can describe this place is that it's giving Chipotle a run for it's money (for now)...Korean style. I came here only a week after it opened and was pleasantly surprised!

Mine: bulgogi + white rice
His: spicy chicken + brown rice

Taste: I chose the burrito with beef bulgogi and galbi (beef short-ribs), white rice, sauteed kimchi, potato salad, lettuce, cheese, fried garlic, the sour cream Sambal, and marinated broccolli...all of which sound super weird in a burrito, but ended up tasting glorious in my mouth. Kennef had pretty much the same thing except he chose the spicy chicken instead of galbi and brown instead of white rice.

With the burrito, you have your choice of 2 meats, brown or white, and your choice of banchan (side dishes)/add-ons. All of their meals come with a side of sweet potato fries (average/plain), but amazing when dipped in their Sriracha aioli which I had to specifically ask for. 

-Meats: I found the bulgogi absolutely delicious, one of the best I've had. I was disappointed with the lack of flavor in the galbi but it was nonetheless still tender. I definitely should have chosen the spicy chicken...super juicy and tender. I was hedging between choosing the tempura tofu just to try it out but backed out at the last second. They are pretty generous with the meat portions. 

-Banchan (side dishes): I'm not a fan of kimchi usually since I don't really like pickled/fermented stuff, so I was surprised that they offered sauteed kimchi. It has a milder flavor than raw kimchi but went great with the bulgogi. They must have put something magical in the potato salad because it was absolutely bombtastic. The marinated broccoli was nothing special, but I wanted more veggies in my burrito other than lettuce. The fried garlic was a nice touch and added a bit of crunch to each bite. Mm, I also found myself searching for those little nuggets of cheese that melted into the beef... I also wanted to try the marinated bean sprouts (which I also normally hate) but the guy didn't hear me -.-

-Wrap/rice/sauce: They warm up the wrap in a tortilla press machine similar to Chipotle so the tortilla is nice and soft. I don't know what they put in their rice but it's amaaazing. My first bite was initially disappointingly pure rice but it turned out to be a happy accident because I got to taste the rice on its own. It tasted like it was cooked with coconut milk/water/essence and was surprisingly perfectly cooked (I'm a rice snob). Kennef had the brown rice which was average to me but according to him, was nice and "sticky" in a good way. The guy who made my burrito suggested the sour cream Sambal to go with the burrito but I didn't seem to taste it much. The juices from the meat price enough moisture so it isn't completely necessary.

Price: Their menu isn't huge but the vast amount of ingredients they offer allow for hundreds of possibilities...all of which come out to ~$7 (yay!). You first choose whether you want a box, wrap, taco, or sandwich with a free side of sweet potato fries. The box is pretty much everything inside the burrito and the portions are a bit larger but they only give you a few fries. I haven't had a chance to try the tacos or sandwiches, but I believe they don't include rice. $7 is a pretty good deal to me for a huge (comparable to Chipotle) burrito and if you're tiny like me, it's good for lunch + dinner :)

Service: Service is ehh, but I'll forgive them since most of the people working there are students and the restaurant is relatively new. The speed of the line went relatively quickly since I went on a late Friday afternoon so it wasn't too crowded. The guy who made my burrito was kind enough to explain some of the ingredients that I wasn't familiar with but it was loud enough that I had to repeat to the guy what I wanted several times despite my attempts at yelling and pointing wildly in conjunction. I bet there are lines out the door normally. 

Menu/table seating
Bar seating/window view

Location/Ambiance: Ditto what I said about the service above, and it wasn't too hard to find seats inside I'm not sure about normal lunchtime. They have bar-type seating and a few tables. There's always room outside at the tables though. Since it was the weekend, it was pretty loud and somewhat crowded with college students. 

Returnability: Definitely...I'd probably come back just for the rice and potato salad. I probably wouldn't come back during peak hours but at the time I went, everything was fresh and service was relatively quick. I like how they package everything in to-goish type boxes that are perfect for taking leftovers. 

More Tips:
- Don't be afraid to try all the banchan!
- Specifically ask to try the different sauces; they have a bunch of them ready to go in little containers but they don't usually just give them out. The sweet potato fries are a little plain without them.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 bulgogi tacos...yum~

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