Janchi Korean BBQ & Bar
165 N. Moorpark Road
Global culinary exploration in American culture has surely been interesting. From the longstanding staples of Indian, Italian, Mexican and Thai, to embracing sushi, teppanyaki and ramen, to more adventurous palate teasers such as Ethiopian and Brazilian, there is a new flavor that is steadily anchoring a spot in our regular dining affairs: Korean.
There seems to be an ongoing fascination with dynamic and zesty flavor profiles, preferably those of small bites, and Korean joints are pleasantly well-refined in the area. Janchi is no different.
It was a Saturday afternoon when we strolled into one the latest enticing ventures in Thousand Oaks. Located in a large industrial-sized space in the Janss Marketplace, it is large and a bit vacuous, with two walls of windows juxtaposed to walls painted in hues of grays and white and accented with wood booths and a faux ivy wall. Decorations are pretty insignificant, just a few paintings here and there. Pop music and jazz classics from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, including Ella Fitzgerald and Patti Page, played over the speakers.
Our server was kind enough, attentive, but didn’t seem to know much about the dishes that we had been considering, so with little advice, we just dived in. In all, we ordered the ready-to-grill scallops, the soon tofu and bibimbap lunch specials as well as the power lunch calamari special. We also ordered the seared albacore tuna appetizer, which, ironically, came last to our table.
Our meals began with complimentary banchan, small dishes of food, including soft, savory and sweet potatoes, lightly spicy and crisp kimchi, marinated sprouts, sweet and sour pickles, and sweet pickled radishes. These are good on their own or with the complimentary salad.
The seasoned scallops were no fuss, no muss — we cooked the small seafood bites a few minutes on each side, and voilà! Fresh and simple, hot right off the table barbecue. Beware. With the exception of the shared salad and banchan, the ready-to-grill orders come a la carte. You may want to order rice or vegetables to fill out your meal.
My personal favorite was the seafood soon tofu with enoki mushrooms, whole small shrimps and clams in literally bubbling broth, served in a stone pot. It came with a small raw egg, which I cracked and cooked in the boiling broth, turning it into strings of egg white and warm egg yolk. The tofu was soft, silky, similar to scrambled eggs. It’s the kind of dish that warms from the inside out.
The calamari lunch was, first and foremost, really spicy, surprisingly spicy. Not to complain, because at least two of us preferred it that way. For our other lunch companions, the heat was blush- and sweat-inducing. The dish, aside from that, was filled with grilled squid fillets and tentacles — slightly crunchy texture with no rubbery resemblance — cooked in a red sauce, with onions, squash, scallions and red pepper, accompanied by a scoop of soft steamed rice. Overall, it was an adventure worth exploring again.
The bibimbap was as expected, a stone pot filled with steamed rice, sautéed vegetables and beef and a fried egg. It’s a straightforward dish, though the rice did get a little dry. The final arrival, the lightly seared albacore, was doused lightly in a tangy vinaigrette, served with a pile of crispy onion laces and sautéed spinach. It was in fact a fine way to end a delicious meal.
Janchi is surely a welcome addition to the diverse dining options in Thousand Oaks and worth a visit.