My Yellow Suitcase

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KOREAN BBQ Experience

It was on our last day when we finally decided to explore and indulge in that famously Korean cuisine – The Korean BBQ!  We walked around the narrow streets across Dongdaemun Design Plaza looking for a suitable venue.  After almost circling the whole area we saw a fancy looking restaurant.  It looked like a perfect spot and we went inside not really knowing what to expect.   The restaurant had a homely feel to it and it wasn’t crowded, which suited us just fine.  All the tables were large solid timber and had charcoal grills sunken into them at the center.  Directly above the grills, range hoods hung from the ceiling giving the place somewhat odd, unusual look.  The menus were on the tables, and yes, only Korean writing throughout.  Not a single word in English.

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We scanned the menu without getting any idea about what to order. There were just too many choices and we couldn’t figure out which one would be the best to try.  After a while, a middle-aged waitress that looked and dressed like a typical Asian housewife came asking for our order.  She spoke very little English so we resorted to sign language and talking in a slow-mo to help her understand us.  Our efforts were not very successful and the situation seemed rather hopeless.  The luck, however, was on our side that day.  An elegantly dressed Korean lady dining next to us came to our aide.  She said she was a frequent guest in this restaurant and praised the quality of the food there.  She spoke very good English and assisted us in communicating with the waitress.   She also helped us choose the best quality BBQ and place our order.  The first stage of our Korean BBQ adventure was saved from a possible disaster.
Korean_stew-Kimchi_jjigae-01

For starter, we had  Kimchi Jjigae  Spicy and appetizing. There was a generous amount of tofu, thick chunky pork belly, onion and kimchi that went really well with the savory and spicy soup.  I was surprised I could handle the heat.

After a few minutes, we began to understand why the tables are so big! Dish after dish was arriving at our table.  There were, soups, egg dishes, rice dishes and then came what traditional Korean food is so well known for Banchan – complimentary, horayyy! These Banchan is a combination of little dishes filled with all sorts of accompaniments to the larger dishes…  But wait! There’s more!: The kimchi and fermented food come in, as well as pickles, vegetable dishes, seasoned sprouts, daikon radish, and garlic and loads more – all amounting to an entire orchestra of flavors.  Honestly, it was hard to know what to eat first and in what order.   I’m sure we wouldn’t have complained if there had been a few dishes less on the table.

Banchan at Palace Korean BBQ Restaurant on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.      (Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer)Set of banchan dishes that goes with the BBQ meat and lettuce leaf.

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Different types of dipping sauce.

Our range hood was switched on by the homely waitress and the grill filled with red-hot charcoal.  She then started to grill the meat, probably assuming that not being Koreans we wouldn’t be able to do it ourselves.  I assisted her for the sake of adventure and experience.  But, to be honest, I preferred to have the time of my life consuming all the goodies placed on my plate, so I let her do most of the work. LOL!

Their barbeque was well-marinated and had significant marbling which always adds to the taste of the meat.  It was a specially prepared beef recommended to us by our elegant next-table lady.  She said she always orders that particular beef whenever she has a meal there.  The beef was delicious indeed and we were delighted we ordered it… but that was before we saw the bill.  The prices for everything else were reasonable for Korean standards, but the price of the beef was astronomical.  Our elegant lady must have been rich… or maybe she was the owner of the resto. LOL!
fire up

They use charcoal briquettes in a table with a super-efficient exhaust system. You don’t have to worry about smelling like a BBQ after eating.

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Well marinated meat grilled with an exclusive cutting technique that ensures the perfect texture and flavor.

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Can you hear it sizzle on the hot grill? But one thing for sure, it smells so good. Yum!

While I enjoyed eating the grilled meat on its own, the best way to enjoy it is to wrap it with lettuce also known as “ssam” wraps.  (Make sure your wrap no more than a single mouthful, otherwise, you might make a mess of it).  I like to combine the grilled meat with bachan dishes, and there are endless options for mixing and matching ingredients.  You can challenge yourself with funkier sauce and banchan until you find your favorite flavor combinations. And let me tell you that the lettuce is so fresh that you will hear a cracking sound when you bite it.

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Fresh minty shiso and green lettuce leaves to eat along with the grilled BBQ meat.

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The way to eat Korean BBQ – Ssam wrap!!!

Each time I look back at the table I can’t quite believe the variety of colors, textures and flavors. It probably wouldn’t have quite the same impact if there were just a few bowls with less imaginative ingredients on the table.  And oh, these grilled goodies are the perfect partner for beer, so if you must, go grab a bottle or two and drink in moderation.

We finished our Korean culinary adventure with Bimbimbap and Doenjang Jiggae a good dish to culminate the symphony of flavors.
Korean_cuisine-Bibimbap

Bibimbap –  Served with a runny egg yolk and of course Gochujang (red chili paste). The food attendant was nice enough to mix it for us and it was really good.

 dj

Doenjang Jjigae – Fermented soybean paste with vegetable stew.  This is usually the best palate cleanser when you want a break from the Korean barbecued meats.  The warm soup is soothing and the soft crunch of the tofu, celery, and white radish add character to the soup.

Our Korean BBQ experience proved to be more gratifying than we expected.  We absolutely relished all the flavor combinations made possible by the wide array of different dishes and we also learned to appreciate culinary ideas different to those we’re familiar with.  Lucky we didn’t miss out on this unique experience.

How about you?  Have you tried Korean BBQ? Let me know in the comments!

QUICK TIPS:  Korean barbecue is deeply communal—going by yourself is expensive, and honestly just not that fun. Even two people can feel sparse. If you’re going to hit up a Korean restaurant, bring at least three friends or more. The more the merrier.

You may also want to check my blog on:  N Seoul Tower and Namsan Park,  Gyeongbukgong and Changdeokgung Palace, Hanok Village, My First Impressions of Seoul,Budget Travel in Seoul , Korean BBQ Experience, 15 Must try Street Food in Seoul, 15 Must try food in Seoul, Places to Visit in Seoul, Lotte World

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29 comments on “KOREAN BBQ Experience

  1. thecontinentaldrifters
    September 1, 2015

    MEAT! The meat looks so dam juicy and good!! Ahem…oh, and the vegetables 🙂 I might even try a homemade ssam style bbq this weekend! Thanks for the lovely photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 1, 2015

      It is indeed juicy and tasty! Quite expensive though but its all worth it! Enjoy your bbq this weekend 🙂

      Like

  2. Vicki Mattingly
    September 1, 2015

    Looks like quite the meal experience. If I weren’t a vegetarian, I might be tempted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 1, 2015

      Awwww…. The vegetables on the sides are good tasting too 🙂

      Like

  3. karla
    September 2, 2015

    I love Korean food. Your pictures of it seems really inviting. I shall go and try it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 2, 2015

      You’re welcome Karla. It is uniquely Korean, you will love it!

      Like

  4. deafinitelywanderlust
    September 2, 2015

    I love Korean BBQ! My friends and I often eat KBBQ in california since there are many all you can eat KBBQ. However, it is definitely quite different from our experience in South Korea though. I am surprised to find that there aren’t many all you can eat KBBQ and they go by weights per price. However, the place you found does look good though and seems to offer a lot more food

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 2, 2015

      We have quite a number of eat all you can Korean BBQ resto here in the Philippines too, its cheap but the taste is not the same as that in Korea either. Tasting the authentic KBBQ is such a wonderful gastronomic experience, except for the price hehehe… 🙂

      Like

  5. Claudia
    September 3, 2015

    Reading this post when I am starving and getting ready to go for dinner is NOT a good idea. I only tried a Korean bbq once in New York City. I had a Korean friend who took me there. The whole thing was a fun experience – not to mention the great food

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 3, 2015

      I know how it feels Claudia 🙂 Creating your own flavor by combining different banchan and wrapping it all in lettuce leaf is the most exciting part! Now i am craving 😉

      Like

  6. Girl, Unspotted
    September 4, 2015

    THIS I’m definitely looking forward to. I love the authentic Korean restaurants here in the Philippines, especially in my area where there’s quite a few. I’m sure it’ll be even more amazing there! I still prefer mine with rice instead of lettuce wraps…unless it’s with bi bim bap (sp) YUMMM

    http://girlunspotted.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 4, 2015

      KBBQ with rice-certainly Pinoy! Love that too:)

      Like

  7. Nic Hilditch-Short
    September 5, 2015

    Looks like tasty fun! I remember when we visited Japan we would just order from the menu and hope! Kind of more fun that way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 5, 2015

      Hi Nic, yeah it was like a guessing game hehe 🙂 It feels like hitting a jackpot each time we get to order (by chance) the best from the menu!

      Like

  8. Lucy
    September 5, 2015

    Food everywhere!))) looks so damn good! I can’t help but being curious of how does everything tastes ..would I like it …

    Like

    • Ynah CA
      September 5, 2015

      Hi Lucy, I am pretty sure you will like it. The meat was perfectly marinated and the lettuce leaf was so fresh!

      Like

  9. Bemused Backpacker
    September 6, 2015

    I loved Korean BBQ! I ate so much when I was there and I’m really happy to see Korean food starting to become popular in other countries too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 6, 2015

      KBBQ is becoming popular here in the Philippines too! Though the taste is not exactly the same as in Korea … 🙂

      Like

  10. Anne | Girl Chasing Sunshine
    September 6, 2015

    Yay!!! What a Korean feast! You know what, we also experienced the same Korean hospitality you had when we dined in a restaurant in Insadong with no English menu and no photos! A Korean couple who speaks and understands English helped us talk to the servers. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Melody Pittman
    September 7, 2015

    Oh that looks like so much fun! I would have been weirded out not knowing anything of what I was getting. All those little bowls and sauces, yum! I love that you get to experiment and try a little of everything.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 7, 2015

      It was overwhelming at first hehhe… But the mixing and matching of banchan to create a unique taste was so muh fun 🙂

      Like

  12. Revati Victor (Different Doors)
    September 8, 2015

    Korean cuisine seems to be all the rage in the US but it hasn’t really caught up here in India. I hope it does soon, the cuisine looks delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. NYC JetSetter
    September 8, 2015

    I love Korean BBQ! It delicious and I have fun making my food 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 8, 2015

      Creating your own flavor with the banchan is really fun 🙂 Its like playing a game of miss and mach hehehe

      Like

  14. Robb Saunders
    September 10, 2015

    Everything sounds so delicious. I’m hungry! I wonder if there’s any Korean Bbq places in Melbourne haha.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ynah CA
      September 10, 2015

      Hi Robb! Yes, it taste better than it looks… I think theres a korean bbq restaurant in melbourne at little bourke street – called Hwaro korean BBQ resto… Just not sure if it will taste the same 😉

      Like

  15. Mae
    July 26, 2016

    Hello Ynah, what is the name of the restaurant? Thank you!

    Like

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This entry was posted on August 5, 2015 by in Food and Culture, SEOUL South Korea and tagged , , , , , , , .
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