Restaurant: Gwang Yang Korean BBQ
Location: 3435 Wilshire Blvd. Ste 123. Los Angeles, CA 90010. (213) 385-5600
Date: February 2, 2015
Cuisine: Korean BBQ
Rating: Very good high end KBBQ, if a little pricy
Located in one of these high-rise plazas across the street from the every popular Boiling Crab. The sign claims someone thinks it’s the best restaurant in Seoul.
NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut. IWC 90. Light gold. Musky orchard fruits and dried fig on the mineral-accented nose. Fleshy and broad on the palate, offering smoky pear and nectarine flavors and a hint of honey. Finishes on a gently spicy note, with very good cling and a touch of bitter lemon pith.
No Korean place could look at itself in the mirror without banchan, the little (often) pickled sides placed on the table and infinity refilled. Gwang Yang has only four, all classic.
Kimchi. The most classic of the classics.
From my cellar: 2003 Weingut Graben-Gritsch Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Schön. 89 points. Nose of lychee pineapple lemon, creamy lemon and peach on the palate. Bright acidity medium finish with a bit of an herby quality.
agavin: Korean food can be a hard wine match and I wanted some white to start. This mildly aged Gruner hit the spot. It’s complex and almost herby/spicy fruit allows it to handle the pervasive Korean red chili.
2011 Kistler Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. 92 points. The wine has a beautiful garnet color, light in the glass with almost no legs. The nose was light with hints of fruit and minerals. A light fruity taste that is tart and not sweet and a smooth texture. The finish is long and the wine really improved with air and I probably opened this years to soon. A very nice Pinot.
agavin: there was a tiny touch of “funny” to our bottle, may have blown off later.
2012 Seven of Hearts Pinot Noir Curmudgeon Cuvée Armstrong Vineyard. IWC 92. Dark red. Delicate, focused aromas of red berries, potpourri and Asian spices, with a bright mineral nuance adding lift. Fresh and lively on the palate, offering tangy raspberry and strawberry flavors that show very good energy, lift and cut. A fresh, elegant, weightless pinot that finishes with very good energy and drive and silky tannins. This racy, balanced wine puts on weight with air but maintains a sense of elegance and restraint.
Some accompaniments. Garlic, pepper, and a fermented miso bean paste that I really loved — not too different than natto.
2008 Rhys Alesia Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. IWC 91. Vivid red. Strawberry, raspberry and spicecake on the nose, with a sexy sandalwood quality. In a distinctly vibrant style, with the sexy spice and red berry qualities following through in the mouth. Sappy and fine-grained wine, finishing on a suave note of candied flowers. This will be the last vintage for this wine.
1980 Château Trotanoy. 92 points. Starts off a bit strange and quite unpleasant with a big cheesy whiff and some strong volatility on the nose. A big shake in the decanter and it improves immeasurably. There are notes of black olive, leather and there’s a pleasant floral perfume. In the mouth it is lightly creamy and there is cassis fruit sweetness. Tannins are chewy on the finish and it is fresh and vibrant.
agavin: ours was a little stirred up and cloudy, but was surprisingly decent for such a shitty old vintage.
2000 Monbousquet. Parker 93. Although still youthful, I do not think the 2000 Monbousquet will develop much more complexity. It is a seductive, rich, generously endowed effort revealing plenty of spice box, herb, black currant, kirsch, espresso, and toasty oak characteristics in a decidedly modern, but opulent, fleshy style. Enjoy this endearing, long, velvety-textured St.-Emilion over the next decade.
agavin: great wine, although more like a big Cal Cab than a Bord, and very young. Tons of round fruit though.
From my cellar: 1996 Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage la Chapelle. Parker 92. The 1996 Hermitage La Chapelle is immensely impressive. The acidity is high. The color is black/purple, and the wine is extremely concentrated, but unevolved and impossible to penetrate. It could turn out like the 1983 and never develop as well as its early promise suggests. Nevertheless, it is a massive effort with extraordinary concentration, but the high acidity requires a minimum of 10 years of cellaring.
agavin: Most of us thought this the WOTN. Just a really nice solid mature (but not old) Syrah. Tons of ripe fruit.
Pa Jeon. Assorted seafood and veggie pancake. Like Korean okonomiyaki.
2009 Chapoutier Hermitage la Sizeranne. Parker 90-94. For starters, there are 1,627 cases of the 2009 Ermitage Monier de la Sizeranne. Lots of peppery, meaty notes are found in this dense purple-colored 2009 along with sweet tannin, a full-bodied, layered mouthfeel and outstanding purity. Three to five years of cellaring will be beneficial, and the wine should keep for two decades.
agavin: a baby. Clearly a great Syrah, but a total baby.
2012 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Cabernet Sauvignon. 89 points. Nose: Medium expressiveness, kirsch, black berry, and cassis. Palate: Full bodied, sweet dark fruit attack, decent balance, starts strong up front and dissipates quickly from the mid-palate thru the back-end. Clean and smooth from front to back just lacks mid-palate density. Finish: Medium length dominated by subtle, but tasty, dark fruit and spice. For a Napa Cabernet you pretty much get what you pay for here.
2006 Carlisle Zinfandel Pietro’s Ranch. IWC 92. Deep ruby. Explosive blackberry and candied raspberry aromas are complicated by rose, violet and lavender. Juicy and fresh, with vibrant dark berry flavors, silky texture and a big jolt of baking spices on the back end. Impressively fresh, pure and sappy zinfandel with outstanding finishing lift and thrust.
Overall, Gwang Yang did serve up some of the best K-BBQ I’ve had — and we had a LOT of food. It wasn’t cheap though, as the Korean places down the food chain are often very reasonable. Although it should be noted that while our table was $110 a head all in, the non-wine group in the next room over hit only $50-60. Of course they didn’t waddle out like we did.