ADDRESS: 7128 Van Nuys Boulevard, Van Nuys, CA 91405
It was the first month of 2020 and I was back off to southern California on another business trip. I’m usually a morning flight person heading out from Orlando, which gets me in to Los Angeles around midday or early afternoon. My friend Kevin lives right along my route I take going up to Palmdale, so we planned it out to hit up a local Korean BBQ spot for a (very) early dinner with his girlfriend Emma.
Funny enough, on my very first business trip to the area with my current job, Ayce Gogi was where Kevin and I had also met up to get a bite to eat after my cross-country trek. Korean BBQ always seems to be a great choice, considering that I’m starving after stepping off the plane, keeping myself nourished on just snack bars. During previous times that we had stopped by, the place had been pretty packed with a crowd waiting to get seated. But I’m thinking because of the odd hour that we showed up at, that’s why there really wasn’t a whole ton of people there just yet.
As with any other all you can eat Korean BBQ places, you better arrive ready with your appetite. The all you can eat option gives you choices from the full spread of 26 options divided amongst four types of proteins: chicken, beef, pork, and seafood. That’s not counting the 12 different house specialty dishes that you could order on the side as well, ranging from fried rice to noodles to tofu soup. But because we’d been to the place before, I think we had a good handle on which items we wanted to at least start off with and then branch out from there.
The first round consisted of spicy pork belly, lemon pepper chicken, and bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated beef), along with some orders of steamed eggs and fried rice. Our table grill was already nice and hot by the time that the meats got brought out from the kitchen; we went ahead and dropped all three items right on there to get things going.
I will say that there is just something satisfying about cooking your own food right there at the table. It’s an experience that I don’t partake in as often, so it’s always fun to take advantage of the opportunity. You just have to make sure that you don’t get caught up in your table conversation that you forget to flip the meats while they are on the grill. Otherwise, you might be ending up with that well-done (and slightly charred) piece of pork belly.
I was actually kind of surprised how much I liked the lemon pepper chicken. The marinade definitely did the job, infusing that lemon flavor in there, and the added black pepper giving it a bit of a kick. The flavors really did come through after the grilling process. The spicy pork belly always seems to be a reliable staple, with that marinade also packing quite a punch. We also ended up leaving the thin slices of the bulgogi on the grill a little longer to let the sugar in the marinade caramelize a bit, adding some slight crispiness to the meat.
The kitchen seems to do a pretty good job in keeping on top of the requests for food from all the tables, especially since the place started getting more packed as time went by. I suppose that’s easier to do when the majority of the cooking was being done out by the table and the meats just need to get plated before getting sent out. Our second round of food consisted of the apple pork, brisket, some more steamed eggs, and an order of the spicy garlic noodles. The pieces of meat were nowhere near as large as the strips of pork belly, so all of that was gone relatively quickly. The order of the spicy garlic noodles was definitely flavorful and had a slight bit of a kick to them, but if I had to choose between that and the fried rice, I think I’d stick with the fried rice.
After two rounds of food, somehow we thought that it still wasn’t enough, so we braved round three, which amounted to an order of spicy chicken, black pepper beef, and another plate of fried rice. The spicy chicken looked like it used the same marinade as the spicy pork belly, but it was still just as good on the chicken as well. We also managed to get a good cook on the beef, keeping it closer to the medium to medium-well range, where it wasn’t chewy or anything like that. After polishing off that set of food, we finally decided to call it a day.
Out of all the meats that we had, I’d have to say that my favorites were the two chickens (lemon pepper and spicy) along with the spicy pork belly. The rest of them were still good, and I’d certainly order them again, but those top three items just really seemed to hit the spot. Across the numerous times that we’ve visited Ayce Gogi, the quality has always been consistently good, and I think that the $27.95 dinner rate for all you can eat was certainly well worth it. There’s a reason that this place is Kevin and Emma’s local go-to spot for KBBQ, and it might become more of a regular stop for me too if I keep going out west for business travel.
Let’s now take a look at the Ayce Gogi Dish Spotlight. Due to the large number of items sampled (and because I got more photos of raw meat than cooked meat), I’ll keep it just in list form. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Spicy Pork Belly **
Thick cut strips of pork belly, marinated in a spicy chili sauce.
** Lemon Pepper Chicken **
Chicken breast chunks marinated in lemon juice and cracked black pepper.
** Bulgogi **
Thinly sliced and marinated sweet and savory beef.
** Brisket **
Thinly sliced premium beef brisket.
** Spicy Chicken **
Chicken breast chunks marinated in a spicy chili sauce.
** Black Pepper Beef **
Short rib with cracked black pepper.
** Fried Rice **
Fried rice mixed in with choice of meat, assorted vegetables, and scallions.
** Spicy Garlic Noodles **
Udon noodles tossed in a garlic sauce with red pepper flakes. Garnished with scallions.
And finally, here are my rankings for Ayce Gogi:
Food: 4.5 / 5
Flipping between the two menu pages that outlined 26 different protein options to choose from made the decision initially pretty tough. But there is a solid array of flavor options, from sweet to savory to spicy, on each of the protein types. I also thought that the quality of the meats was pretty good too, with sizeable portions provided for each order.
Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5
You’ll definitely be walking out smelling like barbecue, but that’s part of the whole experience. Even if the restaurant is fully packed, I thought that the spacing out of the tables really helped to spread out the crowd. The inside is pretty well lit and there are a number of TVs around the dining area even if you wanted to catch a sports game.
Service: 4.25 / 5
The dining staff was pretty punctual when it came to bring out the different meats or side dishes that you ordered. They are also keeping an eye on if your table grill grate needs a swap-out too. I’m sure that they are accustomed to moving through the dining crowds, so there are always a number of waitstaff that make the rounds of the dining room, seeing if anyone needs help.
Price: 4.5 / 5
We definitely got our money’s worth: seven different meats and six different side dishes for only $27.95 per person. Just snacking on my flight over definitely helped pay off to let me devour down a good amount of KBBQ.