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Posted by on Sep 4, 2009 in Korean Food | 0 comments

Small Bites (LA Times): Debbie Lee at Gyenari

Debbie does Gyenari: The judges on “The Next Food Network Star” raved about Debbie Lee’s cooking. If you want to find out what the fuss was all about, you might want to try Gyenari in Culver City, which bills itself as an “upscale Korean BBQ destination.” Lee, a Los Angeles-based restaurant consultant who made it to the final three of the Food Network competition, has revamped Gyenari’s menu. Lee calls her style “Seoul to Soul,” in homage to her unconventional upbringing: Her parents were Korean immigrants who settled in the South. Lee was raised on collard greens and fried chicken, and wasn’t introduced to Korean food until she was well into her teens. Now, she puts a Korean spin on traditional Southern fare. On the menu at Gyenari: a SeoulTown Po’ Boy made with sesame shrimp tempura, cilantro slaw and chile tomatoes; a crispy chile-crusted snapper with soy bean succotash and twice-fried pork belly; and pan-seared pork chops with Fuji apple gravy and kimchee smashed potatoes. 9540 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 838-3131,

Korean “kimchi smashed potatoes,” eh? Sounds like a Koreafornian version of colcannon to me. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made from mashed potatoes, kale (traditional) or cabbage, butter, salt and pepper. To make it more of a meal rather than a side dish, some people add other ingredients such as boiled ham or Irish bacon. I prefer the vegetarian version with cabbage.

In Ireland it’s traditionally served on All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween), but in the States, Irish-Americans serve colcannon on St. Patrick’s Day as a side dish with corned beef. Also a perfect option for National Potato Month (September) as well.

The source on Debbie Lee’s new restaurant is Small Bites: Fuego opens in Long Beach, Sol Cocina opens in Newport Beach, Debbie Lee at Gyenari, the new lunch menu at Water Grill

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