Right in the heart of Koreatown, Los Angeles, Ten-Raku was listed as one of “Top 15 Korean BBQ restaurants to try right now” in the ‘LA Eater’. They opened in January 2012, when the “All You Can Eat” Korean BBQ rave was at it’s peak. But, they took a different approach; they went for quality. Whether you’re craving meat, seafood, or old traditional Korean dishes, they have it all.
Known for their selections of the quality meats, such as ‘Kobe-style’ premium short ribs, USDA Prime short ribs, and USDA prime skirt steak, they also maintain traditional roots by providing dishes such as Nakji Bokkeum (spicy hot pot of marinated octopus with assorted vegetables), Mul Nengmyun (cold noodles soup) and traditional Korean stews such as Kimchi Jjigae (kimchi stew), Doenjang Jjigae (Korean-style spicy miso soup), and Galbi Tang (short rib soup).
Location: 4177 West 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90020, USA
Monday to Saturday 11:00am – 12:00am
Sunday 12:00pm – 11:00pm
Telephone: +1.(213) 380-8382
A quick perusal of their menu reveals their favourite offerings. The “Special” Korean Dishes section is most scary but authentic….
- Kobe Style Premium Boneless Short Ribs 고베 꽃갈비살 (Kobe Ggot Galbi Sal)
- Premium Boneless Short Ribs 꽃갈비살 (Ggot-Galbi-Sal)
- Prime Outside Skirt Steak 안창살 (Ahn-Chang-Sal)
- Filet Mignon 안심 (Ahn Shim)
- Premium Beef Tongue 소 혀 (So Hyuh)
- Nakji Chul Pan 낙지 철판 Octopus
- Nakji Samgyup Chul Pan 낙지 삼겹살 철판 Octopus & Poek Belly
- Nakji & Cha Dol Chul Pan 낙지 차돌 철판 Octopus & Prime Brisket
- Nakji Jeongol 낙지 전골 Octopus
- Nakji & Bulgogi Jeongol 낙지 불고기 전골 Octopus & Bulgogi
“Special” Korean Dishes
- Gopchang Jeongol 곱창 전골 Beef small intestine
- Yooksoo Bulgogi 육수불고기 Thinly sliced beef barbecued & marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, onions served in a broth
- Dwaeji Bulgogi 돼지 불고기 Thinly sliced pork loin marinated & stir-fried with assorted vegetables served on a sizzling skillet
- Meenuh Gui 민어구이 Grilled Croaker fish
Korean Meaty History: KBBQ
Some historians believe that Koreans descended from the eastern nomads of Maek, who left central Asia to go east. They reached Northeast Asia where most of Korea is now situated. The Maek brought a special meat dish called Maekjeok, where the meat cuts were seasoned prior to cooking. Maek cooking technique differed from typical Chinese meat dishes that are seasoned after cooking. We suppose the logic behind marinating of meat was to save time of food preparation as they were regularly on the move.
Later in Korean history, maekjeok almost disappeared because the two ancient kingdoms, Baekje and Silla, welcomed Buddhism. Meat-eating was generally prohibited during the ascent of those two kingdoms and prevailing religion. Only members of very small tribes located outside of these two kingdoms continued eating meat. After the Mongols invaded Korea and the prohibition to eat maekjeok and other meat dishes was lifted, the practice of eating marinated meat before roasting or grilled over open fire eventually spread throughout the Korean peninsula.
Los Angeles has the second largest Korean population in the world, the largest outside Korea (according to many informal census) and where a large ethnic community settles, so too does its cuisine.
I love meat.
I love beef.
I love barbeque.
Thus I am always seeking great Korean BBQ. My favorite in LA is Genwa Korean BBQ, Wilshire (NOT the La Cienega Blvd location) – consistently great over many visits.
After my first visit several months ago, I was smitten with Ten-Raku, which was originally a Japanese yakiniku place (grilled meat a.k.a. JBBQ) located in Koreatown.
Japanese yakiniku actually originated from KBBQ introduced by the Korean immigrant community in Japan, mainly around Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto, with other concentrations in Tokyo, Aichi, and Fukuoka.
The main differences between KBBQ and JBBQ are the traditional marinades and the cuts of beef, though that has been changing and the lines blurring as society evolves and socio- economic conditions change.
I went back to revisit Ten-Raku upon the request of a visiting family member, and unfortunately it didn’t live up to the fond first visit memories – the beef wasn’t as flavorful and tender yet firm as that first visit; the tongue wasn’t transcendant; the grilled flavours weren’t as smoky and charcoal-ly; the yuekwe (marinated julienned raw beef, sometimes called Korean beef tartar though I consider that a misnomer) was too icy, which destroyed the texture and hid the flavors.
It was good, just not The Best. That crown goes back to Genwa Wilshire.
But the pictures still look great!
There is an oriental saying: “If not No.1, at least be No.2.”
To this end, Ten-Raku is still in the frame as a good Koreatown BBQ.
Author’s Biography: A.M. Shin
A.M. Shin is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is a Man of Letters, a Traveller and Bon Vivant who spans the globe in the pursuit of happiness, life and liberty; seeking perfection in an imperfect world.