I've been really excited about this Korean restaurant opening up on the Westside since it is now up against Wharo in Marina del Rey. It's always good to see a little competition, keeps everyone on their toes. Also, I'm always interested in seeing how ethnic restaurants update their look to appeal to a wider audience. Does a restaurant lose its authenticity when it goes modern? Like Sugarfish, when you "Pinkberry" something out, do you start missing the sushi chef? Grace (sis), Berry and I decided to have dinner at Gyenari Saturday night to see how it would fare.
We walk in and just fall in love with the decor..the place is sleek and modern...bar is fabulous, seating area with greys and yellow is classic...
You could tell they really invested some money into this place bc you can see it in the details. We sit down and they bring out the banchan (an assortment of small appetizer dishes) out right away (no lag time, love that, see first pic.) The menu was pretty extensive but our eyes zoomed in on a few Korean classics - bimbimbap (rice with vegetables), galbi (short ribs), and jap-chae (glass noodles):
Again, really appreciate how everything comes out very neat and clean (i.e. no permed hair Korean grandmas with kimchi splattered over their aprons). We start cooking up the galbi and I notice that there is no vent hanging over our table. Our waiter, Jeff, explains that the smoke is getting sucked down into the vents around the grill. Freakin genius. No smelling like galbi! Put away the hair band 'cause my hairs not gonna stink!
Overall galbi pieces were a little thick, the middle was still pink when the outside started getting charred. Perhaps, they could cut the galbi into thinner pieces (much like Gyu-Kaku). I ventured to the back of the restaurant to check out the party room and the bathroom. Again, great attention to detail. (Yes, and hot waiters are a nice touch, too.)
Overall? The food was very Americanized. As much as I want to see this place objectively, through the average person's eyes, I can't, no denying the fact that I am Korean-American. The banchan wasn't hardcore Korean - no octopus or raw crab. Instead they had cucumbers, asparagus, avocado and a few types of kimchi. I enjoyed it all. The bibimbap had red pepper, carrot, asparagus and meat which was interesting. The meat they used is called galbi-cheem, which is great 'cause Koreans don't bust out that good stuff unless it's a holiday. Service was spectacular. Jeff was always around asking us if we needed anything. No complaints at all there. It was a little pricey - for our three dishes we spent $61 +tip. Galbi was $34 and the average is $25 but you are paying again for the atmosphere and service. We really enjoyed the place. Jeff made our night by being very attentive and though we did spend way more than if we had made the trek up to Olympic and Vermont (and had Hodori), it made for a nice night out.
Who Should Go? If you are Korean American and you feel embarrassed speaking Korean ('cause they usually end up speaking English right back at you), this is the place for you. If you want to spend a little extra so that you get a beautiful place to have your galbi, check this place out. If you don't want to drive all the way to K-Town, you now have another alternative on the Westside. Tips: Park in the Cardiff structure for 2 hours free (though this can get packed) or find street parking. Hours of Operation: Lunch: Monday - Sunday: 11:00am - 5:00pm Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 4:00pm - 11:00pm Gyenari (Yelp) 9540 Culver Blvd Culver City, CA 90232 310.838.3131