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Review

Perilla

$$$$
Korean  in  Koreatown
Written by

Scrolling through Perilla’s Instagram is a bit like flipping through the pages of the world’s greatest coffee table book. As you’d expect from a pop-up, this Korean spot has a feed filled with their weekly dishes. But the posts here are strikingly beautiful, set like a Wes Anderson shot: Each of chef Jihee Kim’s dishes are beautifully staged and impeccably centered against a stark white background, making daikon kimchi or bulgogi with tofu skin look like art pieces. But the attention to detail on their Instagram has absolutely nothing on the complex, detailed flavors in their absolutely fantastic menu full of banchan.

Perilla is a takeout-only operation run out of a kitchen at Wilshire and Harvard in Koreatown. Banchan, typically served as side dishes, takes center stage here. You’ll make an entire meal (well, likely several meals) out of the menu, which mostly consists of inventive riffs on fresh vegetables Kim picked up from local farmers markets. That means the options change based on what’s in season, but you can be guaranteed whatever you have will be fresh, fantastic, and interesting.

Our favorites of those vegetables include crunchy, sweet green bean muchim with creamy garlic confit and ground sesame seeds, fragrant and spicy summer squash braised with garlic in chili oil, and bright, fermented cucumber with melon, seasoned with Korean chili flake. But the best of the banchan is the charred okra. Marinated overnight in sweet soy vinegar, its salty, texturally complex, and quite possibly the best okra we’ve ever tasted. These vegetables dishes, by the way, are all $5 or less, so you can go in on all of them.

Brett Keating

The meat dishes shine just as brightly. The best of the bunch is the bulgogi and yuba - thinly sliced beef and tofu skins marinated in tremendous, sweet gochujang. There’s also an excellent, summery corn and crab salad topped with heirloom tomatoes, and salmon gui with a crispy skin over green garlic sauce.

Like many pop-ups of the moment, you order through a link on Perilla’s Instagram page. Kim posts that week’s menu each Sunday night, and most dishes typically sell out by Wednesday morning. It’ll be hard for you not to order everything, and honestly, we wouldn’t discourage you from it - one of everything totals about $100, and shows you the full spectrum of the complex, fresh flavors Perilla excels at.

And when you spread the dishes out across your dining table and dive in fork first, it’s more beautiful than any coffee table book would be.

Food Rundown

Brett Keating
Spicy Bulgogi

This tender bulgogi is perfectly seasoned with gochujang, and the balance in texture between the thin beef and the silky tofu skins is tremendous.

Marinated Okra

Perilla’s okra, marinated overnight in soy vinegar, redeems every sad piece of okra we’ve ever eaten. It’s soft but still firm, tangy, and impeccable. We’re sorry, okra. We didn’t know how high you could fly.

Brett Keating
Gimbap

This marinated mushroom, egg, and avocado gimbap wrapped in toasted nori lets the fresh vegetables shine, and the spicy mustard sauce on the side tastes just right with the bright, clean flavors of the roll.

Brett Keating
Corn Crab Salad

Nothing shows how well Perilla highlights fresh vegetables better than this salad, with outstanding sweet corn, tossed with fresh crab and a salty, earthy miso dressing.

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