Monday, September 20, 2010

Korean BBQ: I love you

I absolutely love love love Korean BBQ. When Friday night rolls around and John asks what I want to do, "Korean BBQ." When there's nothing to eat in the fridge, "Korean BBQ." When I'm looking to tie one on and cook my own food, "Korean BBQ." You get the picture. Korean BBQ is not only delicious but a highly entertaining way to turn your dinner into an experience. I am utterly sick of going to dinner and being in and out of the restaurant in an hour and a half. Dinner should be an experience, it should take most of the night. I'm not talking about eating gluttonously for hours on end, but a relaxing experience where you chat with your friends, drink, eat, chill. We Americans should revel in our meals like the Italians and be passionate like the French and not rush rush through it like we do everything else.

Back to Korean BBQ, its great way to spend a night with friends. Its fun and engaging. You get to cook your own food, pour beer from a 40-ounce of some unknown 'special' Korean beer, sip soju, snack on side dishes and spend time talking as you would at an traditional outdoor BBQ, but with no clean up. I'm always full, buzzed to slightly buzzed and happy as a clam when I leave Korean BBQ. There is nothing like grilling some meat on a tiny grill in the center of your table!

Korean BBQ can be cheap but it can also add up. Look for all-you-can-eat restaurants or for specials as most individual grill items such as chicken or steak run $20-25 a plate. You can find delicious all-you-can-eat restaurants for $19.99. Most Korean BBQs restaurants automatically serve you side dishes and loads of em, kimchi, bean sprouts, seaweed, cabbage, potatoes, green salad and many more yummy sides I can't identify.

Most common meats are: marinated beef ribs, brisket, short ribs, rib eye, marinated chicken, prawns, pork belly, intestines and organs of all sorts, tongue, etc. The best kind of grilling meat is thinly sliced in strips like fajita meat. You don't want to be waiting 10 minutes for a thick steak to cook. I usually order one to two plates of meat per person to grill and a few side dishes like rice, noodles or vegetables to break up what can be an all meat meal. Grilling chicken can be questionable, so always cook it thoroughly and ask for a grill grate change after you're finished. Never mix chicken with any other meat. And leave your vegetarian friends at home!

San Francisco has some of the best Korean BBQ restaurants and lucky for me five good spots are just around the corner in Japantown, ironically.

My top three favorites are: # 1 Yakini Q, # 2 New Korea House # 3 Seoul Garden.

Yakini Q is party party, fun fun and my number one choice on a Friday night. I was a bit tipsy the first night I went there. At around 10pm, John and I finished happy hour and walked down to this place. We easily got a table. I remember there was a flat screen TV on with Korean pop dance videos, a strobe light and endless free beers. It was great. I felt I was magically transported back to Asia minus the old men with their shirts off rubbing their bellies. The place is hip, the meat is good to OK. If you are looking for fun go to Yakini Q but if you are introducing someone to Korean BBQ and want quality over booze and quantity go somewhere else. All-you-can-eat costs $19.99 for the 'basic' and $24.99 for the 'deluxe', personally the foods available on the deluxe plan aren't worth the $5. FYI: Yakini Q was formerly the Korea House, another fine establishment. (1640 Post Street, San Francisco, no website)

New Korea House is conveniently located below Yakini Q. It serves all the traditional dishes a la carte without the party fuss. Its clean and a step up in class than Yakini Q. Its no frills and often uncrowded. It exudes traditional BBQ as seen in the groups of older men who come in their house clothes at 11pm. If my mom was in town I'd take her here, she'd think it was a hoot. It can be a bit pricey, plan on spending $50 a person at least. (1620 Post Street, San Francisco,

Seoul BBQ is the nicest and most expensive of the three. The tables are set up around a room with little red curtains. Its a bit more of a show for the tourists as its located on the Peace Plaza but the menu still has a wide variety of delicious traditional items. If you want to impress a lady or take out a picky friend, this is your place. Plan on spending at least $70 a person. (22 Peace Plaze, San Francisco,

Korean BBQ is by far my favorite food. Try it if you haven't yet!


  1. Another amazing review Stader!! I keep meaning to try Yakini Q, but I need some meat eaters to come with me!

  2. Ooooh great, it's 10:30am and I NEED the Q, NOW!!!

    I love Yakini Q, it's the best known default for a Friday night meat and dance party!!! Makes dinner an experience, rather than a chore on the to-do list.