Korean BBQ: The Beginner’s Guide
Possibly the most loved Korean food in America, Korean BBQ has made a name for itself even in the mainstream foodie world. With the fascination growing for the cuisine, we’re here to guide you through the full KBBQ experience and get the most out of your meal.
The Meal Style
For those of us from Western cultures, we’re not used to the communal eating style that is the main staple of KBBQ. Upon being seated at any KBBQ joint, you’ll already find a plethora of banchan on the table, ripe for sharing. It can be a bit overwhelming for people who are used to ordering their own meal, as the KBBQ style is a shared experience for everyone at the table. Go to the KBBQ restaurant with people you don’t mind sharing, since you’ll be reaching all over the table and making decisions based on what the whole table wants.
Banchan are the side dishes that you will find on your table before even settling down. There are a myriad of different types of banchan that you could encounter. It varies depending on the restaurant, but some staple dishes that you will see are some type of kimchi (sometimes it’s not just cabbage kimchi!), soybeans, radishes, japchae, and salad. Often times a kimchi soup will also be brought to the table, as well as the option of a steamed egg and steamed rice. It’s easy to get full on the banchan alone, so be careful and save some of your appetite for the main course!
The Best Way to Order
Many KBBQ joints offer the all-you-can-eat option, which can get people in trouble if you’re not prepared for the vast amount of food. It’s important to prioritize certain food in order to get the most out of your money. As any seasoned KBBQ connoisseur will tell you, the most important focus is not only the meat, but what would be considered the expensive meat.
Always begin your meal with the steak options first, such as beef bulgogi, LA galbi, or beef brisket, in order to get the most bang for your buck. Another popular selection is pork belly, and many places will offer multiple options for pork belly, like spicy or garlic flavored. You’ll want to place your focus on beef and pork, but most places also have seafood options to consider as well. Shrimp, octopus, and squid are the most common types of seafood that you will encounter on the menu. The last item on the list is chicken, which is something to save as a final round or skip all together. In many cases, seasoned KBBQ goers consider ordering chicken to be a faux pas. Whether or not that’s true, it is a fact that the chicken dishes just cannot measure up to their other meat counterparts when it comes to KBBQ.
And for our readers who are of age, soju goes perfectly well with the delicious dinner set up. Flavored soju adds a fruity twist to the classic flavor. Most places carry the Chum Churum brand, and look nor further than peach for the best soju flavor.
Whether you’re a first timer or a returning connoisseur, KBBQ has something to offer everyone and is a fun experience to share with family and friends. If you haven’t gone to find your local KBBQ joint just yet, what are you waiting for?