Because I’m currently in Saint Louis, I haven’t been able to update this blog and enlighten you with the good eats in the SFV. However my friend Gideon Park who hails from Valencia has gallantly decided to help me (and all you readers) out by guest blogging about a Korean restaurant in Northridge called Shik Do Rak.
On the corner of Reseda and Devonshire, in the heart of a barely-existing Korean community, one will find that the food is still the same. I’m talking specifically about Shik Do Rak, a Korean BBQ restaurant that still maintains its brand name by providing high quality service and most importantly, plenty of food to go around.
So I took my mom and my Jetta to this desolate spot, ironically right next to a gas station, and went about my business. When I first opened the door, I was greeted by brisk formality and quickly assumed self-seating because all formality aside, Korean restaurants tend to assume that people come in families and not in parties, entourages, or etc. Although not handsomely decorated, denoted by its plain orange walls, the smoky interior and fumes appealed to my senses fondly, and the many cherry oak tables made me feel already accustomed to their, or perhaps my, tradition.
While being handed a menu, I noticed that the depictions of set meals, meat, vegetables, ban chan (Korean appetizers), and lunch meals, were much too confusing, even for a native Korean. If you are a first-timer to Shik-Do-Rak or Korean BBQ, you should definitely order from the Bo Ssam section. Other sections include lunch, dinner, and Wang Galbi, but I will only go into the Bo Ssam section, as dduk bo ssam, a rice cake wrapping is what the restaurant is really known for. It really is an edible binding factor to the variegated dishes to come.
In the middle of the table is a giant circular grill pan, fueled by a gasoline-based fire. Directly above is a structure that takes in all the vapour and energy you will be expending in order to properly grill your food.
First, the waitress brought out Korean appetizers (ban chan), which includes fish cakes, kim chi, and other green vegetables that I normally disregard due to my more animalistic desires to eat meat. Next, she brought a plate full of onions and mushroom, standard to intensifying the flavors of meat, followed by a huge plate of red, raw meat. One was choice boneless short ribs, and the other a black angus brisket point.
Usually from here, the experience of grilling is just blurry and hazy, but the distinctions between the meat and the vegetables still holds strong. The black angus brisket point is much thinner and can be eaten separately, while the short ribs will definitely need to be eaten with dduk, salad, and hot sauce.
Remember, there are by now close to 12 dishes in front of you, which makes the combinations, or permutations, very large. Take the time to find the best way of eating for you, and forget the fact that the food is greasy. If you are concerned with your health, I do want to note that everything is somewhat of a big oily mess. Imagine oil, the fat of the meat liquidating into oil, the oily dduk, and oil dipping sauce having to go somewhere. There is in fact a hole in the large circular grill pan I’ve described above, in order to fix the problem of how much oil there really is.
But all of this oil serves a purpose. It really does make all of the small dishes texturally irrelevant in the sense that most of the flavor gets lost in juiciness, which is precisely what I come for when I go to Shik-Do-Rak. But of course it doesn’t have to be this way. You can choose to eat mostly rice, fry the kimchi, fry everything, fry nothing, get a diet coke, or simply disregard the aromas that will constantly fester your nose until you want to eat more.
By the time the check came, which came out to 29.99$ (roughly 40 dollars with tax and tip), I don’t know if I was pleased or just flat-out full, but it definitely was worth it. Some might argue that soju makes the food taste even better, but then they usually don’t know what they’re talking about.
I finally left the restaurant in this congested state and noticed that the maximum capacity sign read 92 persons. If you do decide to come to Shik-Do-Rak, try to bring people that don’t just take up empty space, but people who will sometimes distract you from the fact that a feast is order. And don’t forget to tip the kindly Korean waitresses as well, because they really do just about everything to service your every need.\
Address:18434 Devonshire St, Northridge, CA 91328