Saturday, April 3, 2010

Korean BBQ

Korean barbecue, or gogi gui, refers to the Korean method of grilling beef, pork, chicken, or other types of meat at the table on grills that are built into the center of the table itself. We wanted to try something new and different today, so we decided to venture out into Koreatown today and try Korean BBQ. We went to Soowon Galbi Korean BBQ which is tucked away in a plaza of a seedy part of town, but it is modern, clean, and very nice once you get inside.

As a first time Korean BBQer, I really didn't really know what to expect. We opened the menu and had no idea what to order. We asked the waitress and she spoke no english. She sent over another waitress who also had no idea what we were asking. we decided on the two person combo which included 3 types of meat; marinated chicken, thin slices of unmarinated beef and pure unadulterated pork belly (similar to uncured bacon), and a bottle of soju. First, they bring you out a bowl of their house salad, and it's bottemless, so you can get more if you want. The lettus is also used in the little burrito wraps explained below.

Then they bring you out lot of these little dishes of different vegetables... kimchee (the floppy looking napa cabbage with the fiery red sauce), Oi kimchi (cucumbers that have been pickled in the same spicy chile paste) , bean sprouts, sweet potatoes, etc. Apparently, panchan (banchan) are side dishes that are standard with every Korean meal. They were all pretty good, but there was one in particular that I really liked and have NO idea what it was. Crunchy white seaweed? Or some kind of noodle?

They bring you a bunch of different dipping sauces, and the waitress did point out (literally) that the course salt/sesame oil dipping sauce (gireumjang) is for the pork, the gochujang (hot pepper paste) is to be put on the rice paper to make mini Korean burritos, and the soy-based sauce with and jalapenos for the brisket. A popular way of eating Korean barbecue is to wrap the meat with rice papers or thinly sliced daikon and add condiments. Yummy!

The waitress then comes over and starts cooking up the meat on the grill. If you order two or more different types of meat and even if both plates of raw meat come together to the table they don't mix the two on the same grill top. They bring a new clean grill top for each type of meat. Can't wait to go back!

course salt/sesame oil dipping sauce (gireumjang)


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