This ramshackle shotgun brick house is a curious sight from the outside, wedged into an odd, angled alley behind Lincoln Avenue, across California from a convenience store that stocks Libertarian Party literature. It doesn't look like it could handle a stiff breeze, let alone the throng of 17 birthday partiers that recently stormed its doors, a motley mob of experienced Korean barbecuers as well as novices, hard-core carnivores, and squeamish plant eaters. But the waitstaff were pros, juicing us with soju and beer and commandeering the tongs to flip tender slices of beef whenever we revelers got lost in our own noise. Did it matter that the panchan arrived after appetizers, buckets of hot coals, and the huge platters of marinating meat? The vegetarians were placated, huddling over their bowls of bi bim bop, while the meat eaters filled up with heavy appetizers like yook hoi, shredded raw beef tossed with Asian pear, sesame oil, and egg yolk, and goon mandoo, fat, beefy fried dumplings. The house regained control when the waitress firmly removed the beef short ribs after a greenhorn mistakenly placed them on a grill already crusted with the sirloin's sweet marinade. A scoured metal rack was delivered and the ribs were given the green light, though after the lean steak, their relatively stringy spare flesh was superfluous. A late-arriving peppery miso soup with zucchini and tofu floaters made a bracing dessert and probably the only suitable finish to such relentless meating.
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