Orange County: Gen Korean BBQ House

While T was off on her spa date with her friend, my sister and I drove down to Crystal Cove State Park for some beach action.  Before we hit the sand, we did a quick and easy hike...or so it was supposed to be.

The Green Route is a 2.9 mile loop hike.  Not too bad, right?  But because we couldn't find the starting trailhead and ended up doing the loop backwards, what was supposed to be a "moderate" hike with a slight incline and a steep descent became a 0.4 mile nightmare incline and a long, slow descent.  We had to take multiple breaks during the incline just to huff and puff and reconsider our poor life decisions.

After the hike, we recovered from our ordeal by sitting on the beach and eating a simple lunch of clementines.  Now, before you get the mistaken impression that we're on a diet, that couldn't be further from the truth.  The reason why we only packed a couple of oranges for lunch was because we were anticipating an AYCE Korean barbecue feast that night at Gen:


My sister and I arrived before T and her friend.  We put our name and phone number down with the hostess, then went to wait in our car, where T and her friend eventually joined us.

When we got the call, we eagerly took our seats inside:


First came the assorted banchan:


I was excited to see the thin picked radish slices and the paper thin rice noodle sheets.  I love putting them in ssam.

There was also a salad that we barely touched:


Because as we all know, it's all about the MEAT.

For $20 per person, you get to chow your way through this extensive list:


It goes all the way down to 38.  Holy moly.  With so many things to choose from we got a little overwhelmed at first.

We knew for sure that we wanted beef tongue:


T wanted shrimp:


And garlic calamari:


We'd never had pork cheek, so we definitely wanted some of that:


My sister and I made sure we got our large intestine (daechang):


There was a moment of silence as we solemnly put everything on the grill:


And listened to that beautiful sound of sizzling meat.  Ahhh...music to our ears.

We quickly discovered that we ADORED pork cheek.  I just asked my sister how she would describe the texture and she said, "Elastic!"  Not sure if that's the word I would use, but if elastic equals AMAZING, I'll take it.

For our second round, we decided that we had to be more systematic about how we were ordering.  Instead of picking what we wanted willy nilly, we started at the top of the list and worked our way down.

Number one was the Gen signature prime steak (black angus top sirloin).  Before I could get a picture of it, it had already been placed on the grill:


5 was the brisket (chadol):


And 8 was the beef belly:


To balance out all that meat, we also went backward from the end of the list and ordered spicy rice cakes:


A mistake that we didn't make again.  Blech.

We also got the japchae:


Also on the bland side.

Round three brought Hawaiian steak marinated in teriyaki sauce with a pineapple slice:


Bistra harami, which is hanging tender meat marinated with miso:


We skipped all the chicken and went straight to bulgogi calamari:


And cajun shrimp:


We were a little unimpressed by the large intestine, so we decided to try our luck with the small intestine (gobchang):


Much better.  Especially when grilled to slightly crispy on the edges.

The pork belly at Gen is available in different marinades, but we wanted just straight pork belly:


Sometimes, pure pork flavor is best.  Actually, when it comes to samgyeopsal, pure pork flavor is always best.

After going through the entire list, we started ordering our favorites again and also went back to try some things we skipped the first time around.  I don't know how many rounds we did in total.  I just remember hitting food coma status by the end of the meal.

We walked out of Gen as huge fans.  $20 for that many options?  What a steal!  Just skip all the non-meat stuff.  Not worth it (and not that tasty either).  Meat all the way!  Even after we returned to the Bay, we kept lamenting the lack of cheap Korean bbq buffets in our area.

That is, until we got the surprise of the century.  One day, we were driving past the Ranch 99 plaza right by our house when we noticed something that blew our minds.

Gen.  Is opening.  Right by my house.  What the hell.

First Gong Cha and Sharetea and now Gen?!  Our neighborhood is hoppin'!

Don't know yet when exactly Gen is opening for business and no clue whether it'll also be $20 for dinner, but who cares?  I'm so freakin' excited!


Gen Korean BBQ House
13741 Newport Ave
Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 505-1800
http://genkoreanbbq.com/

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