If any Los Angeles restaurant has built up karma, it’s Baroo, a tiny spot from chef Kwang Uh and business partner Matthew Kim that preaches fermentation in an unassuming strip mall, but has earned national acclaim.
After less than two years in business, chef Kwang Uh returned home to Korea, and it was unclear when (if ever) he would return. Happily, Uh has been back for a bit in the kitchen of this sign-free east Hollywood destination after training with globally revered chef/nun Jeong Kwan in Korea. His time at Baekyangsa Temple in Naejangsan National Park reinvigorated him. Creative seasonal dishes are pouring from Uh’s mind onto a specials board by the register. Dish names include Caramel Corn Cappuccino, Last Summer Breath, and perhaps best of all: Karma Circulation.
Many dishes have sub-headings in parentheses to help lend clarity. Karma Circulation also goes by (Grain, Egg, Chicken) and proved to be one of L.A.’s better chicken and rice plates. The bowl features a base of Koda Farms Kukuho Rose rice and brown rice layered with kombusake, KFChicken (boneless, free-range, organic dark meat) seasoned with noorook salt, kimch-ed blistered corn salsa with celery, fennel, Japanese perilla fermented moo, gochujang aioli, sumac, and yuzu peel. Add soft spa-ed egg in chile soy bath ($2) that, upon plating, resembles an egg in a colorful nest. That description may sound overwhelming, but in Uh’s skilled hands, Baroo once again achieves harmonious balance.