Glamorous restaurants get a lot of attention, because they involve a lot of effort - waiting in long lines, or spending a car payment on the meal, or setting an alarm at exactly 9am just to call for a reservation. The kind of restaurants that simply serve great, reliable, and affordable meals - the places where you’re likely eating 90% of the time you go out - get a lot less love.
BBQ + Rice, the Korean rice bowl restaurant with locations in East and West Hollywood, is exactly that kind of spot. It’s a workhorse, and a very good one, at that. And in a city with a lot of fantastic options for under $10 - tacos, sandwiches, noodle bowls - BBQ + Rice is right near the top.
It’s a counter-service space in a strip mall, and the inside is about as straightforward as you can get - a couple bar seats, a big communal table, and a few friendly staff members milling about. There’s a little fridge off to the side full of pickled vegetables available for purchase, which you absolutely should. The selection changes daily (we’ve had spicy kimchi, pink pickled radishes, and dark purple cabbage) and they’re not only some of the best homemade pickles we’ve ever had, they’re also an extremely good deal at just $3 for an 8oz. container.
Those pickled vegetables also show up in the rice bowls, too, which is a very good thing. They balance everything out in the bowls, which also include a protein and rice. The galbi - pressure-cooked short ribs - is one of our favorites. It comes with potatoes, carrots, and onions, and tastes like Korean beef stew. There’s also the marinated bulgogi, which is salty and sweet in all the ways you want bulgogi to be, without the stringy fat that sometimes comes with this type of beef.
The best bowls, though, are the spicy chicken and the sautéed kimchi. The chicken has an excellent fruit and soy marinade with gochujang (chili paste), and housemade potato chips on top that add a great crunch. Meanwhile, the kimchi bowl is vinegary, spicy, and salty - thanks to the addition of bacon and melted cheese. It’s hearty enough to provide you with the sustenance you need to deal with whatever bullsh*t your boss dumped on you today.
And that’s often all you want from a restaurant. A meal at BBQ + Rice isn’t a lot of work, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still great. Sometimes, you just need a restaurant that can be the workhorse when you don’t want to be.
A rotating selection of sweet radish, cabbage, salty cucumber, and kimchi. Grab whichever one (or four) look good to you.
If bulgogi bowls give you nightmares about fast food “beef” - this bowl will cleanse you of any bad memories. Add the egg.
BBQ+Rice makes their own gochujang - a spicy red sauce that would improve every too-bland chicken dish we’ve ever had. And since it’s in the marinade for this chicken, you can probably guess that we love it.
This bowl is a special, but it’s been available every time we’ve gone in. It’s the regular kimchi, sautéed with the choice to add bacon and cheese. Do it.
The only thing here we’d really skip - it’s just a less-flavorful version of the spicy chicken.