Short Order: Ahgassi Gopchang, Los Angeles

Stirfried chives w/ kimchi paste at Ahgassi Gopchang (photo by Brad A. Johnson)

Ahgassi Gopchang opened about a year ago on 6th Street in Koreatown. It’s from the same owners as the popular Korean barbecue joint Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong.

“Gopchang” is the Korean word for intestines. It’s important to know that because that’s their specialty here. But of course that’s not all they serve. In fact, the beef they put on the barbecue grill here is better than most other places in K-town. And more to the point, the restaurant’s parent company owns the beef supply company that supplies a large swath of the Korean restaurant business in the U.S., so one can only assume that their own restaurants will have access to the company’s best beef. And intestines.

I like this place, in part, because the staff does all the cooking for you. Yeah, I know, cooking it yourself is supposed to be part of the fun of Korean barbecue, and sometimes I enjoy that. But usually when I go out to eat it’s because I want someone else to cook. The cooking is still done at the table, but if you dare pick up the tongs and start messing with the meat yourself, the staff rushes to the table and wrestles the tongs away from you as politely as they can, apologizing, as if to say they’re so sorry that they neglected you so long that you had to get yourself dirty like that. They have a call button on every table, too, but you’ll never use it because the service is stellar. This is one of the few Korean barbecue places I’ve been where I didn’t smell like smoke and grease when I got home.

Of the three types of intestines served here, my favorite is the mountain tripe, which is thick, meaty and full of collagen. The staff cuts it with scissors and lets the pieces fall onto the grill, where they sizzle and contort until the edges start to turn black, all crispy and ashen, while the middle is still slightly opaque, spongey and unctuous. They give you a bowl of lightly acidic soup-like dipping sauce, spiked with fresh jalapeños, in which to dunk it.

The beef tongue is great, too, especially when liberally seasoned with coarse sea salt. The prime marinated short rib is even better. The banchan, all those little extras that come with a Korean meal but area almost never listed on a menu, are not as plentiful here as they are at many other places, but the few little dishes that do pile up are certainly delicious, especially the spicy stir-fried garlic chives and the pickled sesame leaves, either of which can be wrapped around the meat or eaten alone. And if you run out or want more banchan, just say so, the staff will keep them coming.

They don’t take reservations, but they will let you call ahead and put your name on a waiting list if you’re on your way.

Aghassi Gopchang
Where: 3744 W. 6th St., Los Angeles
When: Daily, lunch, dinner and late-night
Phone: 213-249-9678

This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Register. To view more of my work for the Register, check out the archives. I also invite you to follow me and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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