It might be hard to tell considering the steady crowds at Park’s BBQ, but the strip mall at 955 South Vermont Avenue does feature more than one compelling eating option. Somehow, Jonathan Gold’s LA Weekly review of Bulrocho managed to slip by me, but he covered the restaurant in his Saveur round-up of Koreatown. In general, goat + Gold = success, and it did in this case, for the most part.
Bang Tyae Sick, whose name appears on a mystifying card that reads “Texas Snake,” has owned Bulrocho for three years, specializing in goat stew, made with a lean red meat that is known for its health benefits. The name Bulrocho translates from Korean as “good for health.”
Décor is barely worth describing at this 24/7 restaurant, with a series of tabletop grills, unlabeled photos of popular dishes and mounted copies of Jonathan Gold’s LA Weekly review above each table. Low-key Korean pop music played, and families filled most of the tables during the dinner rush. Late night, I imagine the crowd is different as people spill out of K-Town bars and clubs.
Gold (and the sign out front) leave little doubt what to order: “Goat Stew Boiled at Table.” There were only two of us, so we ordered a Small ($31.99), and the feast would have easily fed four people. There’s also Medium ($49.99) and Special ($69.99) if you’re in a group, or feeling especially gluttonous. Bulrocho also features Goat Meat with Vegetable Soup and Steamed Black Goat Meat. If you don’t like goat, you probably shouldn’t eat at Bulrocho, but they do make “Hangover Soup with Oxblood,” a couple kinds of bibimbap and a handful of other soups.
Banchan were all solid, including chunks of potato in sweet chile sauce with onion and jalapeño; sweet steamed radish strands; pungent kimchi with scallions; crunchy daikon radish in chile sauce with scallions; and strips of fish cake with onion and jalapeño.
To dress our goat, we received a dish of soy sauce with garlic, onion and jalapeño; and “goat sauce” with chile sauce, garlic, scallions and chile paste. After the stew arrived at our tabletop grill, our waitress mixed the sauce with whole grain mustard, vinegar and a few spoonfuls of goat broth.
The lean purple-pink goat meat is pre-cooked in back, then pulled and piled into a massive pot with scallions, enoki mushrooms, sesame leaves and firm strips of goat skin.
Our waitress integrated the ingredients and after awhile, our goat stew began to bubble in a mild red chile broth. With the “goat sauce” and soy sauce, the goat, which was relatively mild on its own, achieved some depth of flavor.
We requested fried rice, which is typical of Korean stew specialists, and our waitress brought two tins of sticky wild rice with scattered purple grains. We scooped the rice into the pan. Our waitress added dried seaweed, sesame oil and kimchi to produce fried rice. There was so much residual liquid from the stew that our fried rice never got crusty, but the seaweed and kimchi added a nice punch that wasn’t previously present in the stew.
Overall, I remember Chin-Go-Gae having more flavorful broth, but there’s clearly room for more than one Korean goat specialist in Los Angeles.