In Koreatown, home to the city’s—and the country’s—most varied array of Korean barbecue joints, little in the way of untrodden ground exists for new restaurants. Cheap, expensive, minimalist, maximalist: No matter your inclination, a pre-existing grilled meat purveyor typically already fills that niche. Woo Hyang Woo, however, is a recent exception to this general rule, thanks to a short, focused menu with tapas-style offerings and a larger drink selection. Though the upscale-leaning eatery at 6th and Ardmore rarely draws the same crowds or hours-long delays associated with Chapman Plaza’s Quarters and Baekjong across the street, this sleek-looking restaurant still offers a delicious, albeit banchan-lite, Korean barbecue experience with typically little to no wait for a table on weekdays and a fairly short one on weekends.
Living up to its name (Korean for “beef scented house”), Woo Hyang Woo instead distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack through house aged, high-quality cuts, including American Wagyu, certified Angus beef and enormous, pricey dry-aged tomahawk steaks. In a carryover from the restaurant’s earliest days in the fall of 2020, servers will still give you the option to have the kitchen cook your meat to order, an offer you should absolutely take them up on. While you’ll miss out on their attentive tableside grilling skills, the sizzling platters come on a bed of softened, slightly charred white onions, a perfect, sharp accoutrement for every luscious bite of red meat. Smaller parties should bypass the usual cuts like pork belly and beef brisket and order the short rib tomahawk steak. A compact, less expensive version of Woo Hyang Woo’s more eye-catching tomahawks, the dish has all the fatty, beefy flavor typical of KBBQ short ribs, plus a more unique, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness from the in-house dry-aging process. You haven’t had galbi like this before.
A small selection of á la carte cooked dishes and bar bites like calamari and mozzarella sticks fills out the rest of the menu at Woo Hyang Woo, whose tiny, excellent food offerings and outdoor patio area make the restaurant feel more like a wine bar than any other barbecue joint in Koreatown. Though naysayers might decry the lack of plentiful side dishes, the pared down simplicity of a meal here has its charms, particularly with a plein air glass of wine or soju cocktail. The restaurant’s quieter ambience on weekday nights and a daily lunch menu priced under $20 per head further reinforce Woo Hyang Woo’s niche in the L.A.'s Korean barbecue ecosystem as a more serene, sophisticated alternative to the high-octane party-like experience offered by other competitors.
The vibe: Everyday elegance, with a tendency to run quieter on weekdays and occasionally rowdier weekends. Indoor tables and outdoor bar seating that looks out onto the street.
The food: Sizzling platters of high-quality beef and pork (with tableside grilling available indoors), solid cooked dishes and finger foods for the bar-bite inclined. Highlights include the short rib tomahawk, beef short rib soup and prime seasoned short rib. Skip the Wagyu beef tartare.
The drink: Bright, fun soju cocktails like the Cali Sunset and the Peach in the Prison are the move here, though you can also find Korean beer, a large majority California wine list, plus soju and sake.
Time Out tip: For a brisker, less leisurely meal, sit at the outdoor bar area, where you can take in Koreatown’s bustling streets.