Baroo is a Korean-Inspired Global Playground of Taste
(Los Angeles) Taking “trust me” to an entirely different plane, Chef Kwang Uh’s seven-course tasting menu simply delivers. Inspiration-wise, Baroo launches from a Korean wellspring. But what it offers is global tastes and textures combined in a way that you didn’t even know you craved.
The menu is your first clue that you’re in for a unique experience. Each course is introduced in one column with ingredients (showcasing Korean, Italian and Vietnamese amalgamations). But for every course, there’s also an accompanying symbol or emotion to consider.
One standout on the tasting menu is the smoked eel enveloped in a light, crispy batter dressed with Korean aioli and wrapped with buttery lettuce and kkaennip (perilla leaf). What could easily have mushed together in a confused heap… doesn’t. Instead, the salt, sweet, crisp, smooth and hint of bitter somehow dance off each other, each maintaining its essence to the last bite.
Baroo is what happens when an utterly proficient chef pays homage with imagination. There’s no muddled swirling, rather, the diner is introduced to an alchemy not bound by national borders.
The silken black cod in a lemongrass sauce sparks a distinctly Southeast Asian note and the only rendition of kimchi here made an appearance in what looked like risotto. Unexpected? Yes. But not unwelcome.
The finale, a dessert with Italian, Korean, Japanese and French influences, is a study in contrasts. The carmelized sugar (reminiscent of creme brulee,) the light-as-air frozen shaved matcha, the creamy panna cotta simply have no business playing so well together.
Not surprisingly, Uh’s background includes cooking and staging in renowned restaurants in Asia, Europe, the Bahamas and the US. His first Baroo in Hollywood (2015-2018) was lauded by Jonathon Gold, James Beard and Bon Appetit.
Accompanying the tasting menu is a wine pairing, an alcohol-free pairing and a Korean-leaning offering of alcohol and teas. The teas, in particular, speak to Baroo’s Korean roots with varieties made from persimmon leaves, a fermented balhyocha black tea, and even a white lotus tea, which is something served in buddhist temples throughout the country.
With weekends booked out for months, Baroo (2.0) fortunately has more seating capacity than its predecessor. And its current location in the Arts District is easier to find, although parking may be just as difficult.
905 E. 2nd St., Suite 109, Los Angeles, (213) 221-7967, baroolosangeles.com