By day Rajesh Niti works as a biomedical engineer identify new therapies for patients with aggressive forms of cancer. In his spare time, he enjoys analyzing football and food data. Late last week, Niti dropped a gem for Angelenos who appreciate high-quality meats seared over charcoal: a comparative analysis of Korean barbecue joints in LA County.
Niti compared two very important measures of Korean barbecue: cost versus popularity. The result is a chart that allows consumers to find top-rated Korean barbecue spots that also fit their budget.
In the world of local Korean barbecue, restaurants fall into one of four categories:
- More expensive than average and not as tasty
- More expensive than average but tasty
- Cheaper than average but not as tasty
- Cheaper than average but tastier
The weekend is here, and that means it’s time for some Korean barbecue. Check out my comparison of the best AYCE (🔴) and non-AYCE (🔻) Korean BBQ restaurants in Los Angeles County. [Cost vs Rating]
— Rajesh Niti (@messidude) February 4, 2022
At-will (AYCE) stitches are represented by circles while non-AYCE stitches are triangles. The size of the data point reflects the popularity of the restaurant; the larger the circle or triangle, the more reviews it receives.
Niti tells LA TACO that he compared AYCE spots to non-AYCE spots because he’s heard that non-AYCE spots have better food, even though they’re usually more expensive. “Visualization really drove this point home with most of these places displayed in the upper right quadrant.” In the “more expensive than average but tasty” quadrant, you’ll find popular Korean barbecue spots like Quarters, Soowon Galbi, and Chosun Galbee.
Brother’s Korean BBQ falls into a category of its own as the most expensive place in the ranking.
“C’EST CRAZY”, the popular Instagram account @Koreatown wrote to their 129,000 followers on Monday.
“FRAME THIS AND HANG IT IN THE SMITHSONIAN NOW,” another Instagram user commented below the post.
Niti tells LA TACO that her love for Los Angeles and Korean barbecue inspired the analysis. “LA was the first city I lived in when I moved to the United States,” Niti told us this morning. “I miss it and the [Korean BBQ].” In the past, he analyzed Indian restaurants in the Bay Area and the best Porotta and Beef Roast in Kochi, a city in India.
To compile a list of Korean barbecue spots in Los Angeles, Niti used a computer program to “scrape” restaurant reviews from platforms like Yelp, Google and TripAdvisor. He also relied on his own experience to navigate his way through the Korean barbecue scene while living here. “I had a good idea of [Korean BBQ] places from my previous experiences so I started with them and then compiled more data on other restaurants based on Google search and articles I read.
In total, Niti has imagined more than 70 restaurants. He thinks it’s a fairly accurate representation of all the Korean barbecue restaurants in Los Angeles, but admits he missed a few, like the iconic Soot Bull Jeep.
Niti cherishes the memories of eating at Road to Seoul and Moodaepo II, his favorite Korean barbecue spots, when he lived in Los Angeles. He currently resides in Tempe, Arizona, where he says the Korean barbecue scene is ever-expanding. “I really think Arizona has room to grow to reach the heights of LA Korean BBQ.”
As for his next project, Niti tells LA TACO that he is working on a New York pizza chart that should be available soon as well as a comparative analysis of taco spots in different cities. “I want to make a complete one for tacos. It’s probably my favorite dish. He plans to compare 50 taco restaurants in cities like Los Angeles, Houston and Miami. Asked about the heated taco rivalry between Texas and California, Niti confirms, “I support Cali!”