Published on October 10th, 2012 | by Andy Park
Korean BBQ Short Ribs & Yuk Gae Jang @ Friend’s House Korean
Friend’s House Korean Restaurant Review
Yes, this place is called Friend’s House — if you translate this literally from Korean. And as a Korean who lived in Korea for 10 years, I can’t help but realize how strategic this name is: it gives a slight homey vibe and the food (surprisingly) reminds me of home! It’s just like going over to a good friend’s to eat. Considering I was with a group of (loud and obnoxious) friends, this kind of was ironically very appropriate.
Let’s get down to business…
There’s generally a lot of food options in Korean restaurants but I went straight for my deal breaker: Yuk Gae Jang and Korean BBQ Short Ribs. People normally try “safer” foods like Soft Tofu Soup or Bibimbap, but this conditioned Korean from the heart of Korea knows to look for quality in slightly more sophisticated foods.
Korean restaurants are notorious for their side dishes. Depending on how generous they are, the higher class restaurants will give larger numbers of these little plates of gold. We were given seven plates, which is a little more than average. They were mediocre to say the least–nothing to be too wow’d about. Slightly aged kimchi, radish kimchi, sweetened potatoes, marinated fish cakes, spicy bean sprouts, etc. Decent. Helps keep your palette entertained.
Gal-Bi Dup Bap (Korean BBQ Short Rib rice & 2 Dumplings) ($11.99): There is honestly nothing special about this plate except for the short ribs. It’s your standard rice, a small cabbage salad, and two pieces of mediocre fried Korean dumplings. However, I must interject, the 5-7 pieces of short ribs were something to stop and close your eyes to. They were perfectly cooked to where I was literally surprised how tender and juicy they were. The marinade sauce was perfect with the soy sauce and garlic smoked taste that everyone would LOVE, and the meat was seriously dancing in my mouth. I wish that piece never ended. I began missing my mom–how could they seriously remind me of home?! HOW!? Want to dive into Korean food? Try this!
Yuk Gae Jang (Hot/Spicy Beef soup) ($10.99): I’ve been lurking around Convoy to find the best place that serves this specific soup bowl. Friend’s House brings in a very different flare as the broth comes out thicker and richer than many other restaurants. Not only is it burning red, but it’s also saturated in Korean pepper spices and garlic that takes a little bit to cool down (keep blowing!). They really invested an abnormally large amount of very tender shredded flank steak (which kind of shocked me–only my mom would scoop me that much at home) and it was by far the most tender steak I’ve had in this soup in San Diego. This alone I must give praise, adoration, kudos, gracias, gomabsubneeda! Intertwined with the steak is a plethora of bean sprouts, green onions, egg, and clear noodles–perfectly proportional. The soup itself is saturated in flavor so all the “extra” stuff will only enhance flavoring. As I was scooping every bite and sweating like a foreigner, I gave it my inner thumbs up. Andy Approved.
This place always seems to have hit-or-miss service. The first time I came here they were all up in my business, and this time one of the (male) workers seemed legitimately pissed at us. Were we too loud? Too diverse? Not everyone was eating?–Give us a hint! My Thai friend tried saying “thank you” in Korean and he didn’t even respond! Come on fellow brother, give her some credit! Oy, what a sour aftertaste.
In the end, what can you say…I’m highly impressed but not swoon to consider this the best Korean restaurant in San Diego. But it’s up there. It really does feel like you went to your Friend’s House for dinner. Sure, you paid more than you would, but order a few beers, share a few laughs, say loud and obnoxious things, and pretend that no one’s watching…Oops, we did that. We’re all friends, right?
4647 Convoy St. Ste 101A
San Diego, CA 92111
Neighborhood: Kearny Mesa