Terraces of neighbouring BBQ restaurants suffuse Koreatown with ubiquitous ebullience: one restaurant’s meaty redolence melds with next door’s syncopated sugary pop beats. Laughter spreads like contagions from one table to the next whilst clinking soju bottles inject a little funk to a food ensemble.
Genwa could therefore be perceived as a potential pariah. Situated under an apartment block on a quiet part of mid-Wilshire it doesn’t ooze the exhilarations others up the road do, so when a bambi-eyed blonde hostess with a dancer’s physique parked us at a corner of the restaurant next to a trio of women drinking wine and poking their bibimbap with sad chopsticks my heart sank, not the authentic BBQ experience I wanted or my visiting friend to experience.
But this restaurant isn’t known for its cacophonous atmosphere, it is known for its food. Quality and well-seasoned hunks of affordable marinated meat. That, and its 25 refillable savory pick n’ mix appetizers: Acorn jelly and gelatinous squid to name tamer concoctions. Bubbling egg soufflé and yam noodles bookmarked the nucleus of hissing Bugolobi and melt-in-the-mouth Prime Galbi and mini-urns of purple rice absorbed the homemade miso sauce dripping out of my badly rolled D.I.Y radish paper wrap. A final exhale, a sip of ginger tea and the unbuttoning of my jeans signaled the end of the feast.
Genwa has an extremely good ventilation system, which means although sitting in a meat sauna, you don’t emit bovine aromas that would usually cloud the rest of your evening.