It’s a Bit of a Frenzy, but Always a Feast
hether you’re dying to try the latest poke place or sushi bar, you need to add a Korean barbecue house to your list. For my friends and I, Korean barbecue is our go-to for celebrations. With a group of at least four, but preferably more, we’ll squeeze into a booth and surround the table with a grill built in to the center. A waiter will come by and offer a greeting, and explain the few rules of the all-you-can-eat style menu. It’s smooth sailing from there, as we order a multitude of meats. Cooking the food takes no more than a few minutes (save for chicken), immediately to be enjoyed with sauces and ban-chan (side dishes) of kimchi, peppers, sprouts, potato salad and more. Two hours later we prepare to leave, fully satisfied after a day of starvation in preparation for the meal to come.
How do you eat Korean barbecue?
Although some eateries offer single diner meals, most Korean barbecue houses function as all-you-can-eat style buffets, where uncooked meat is brought to your table for you to cook and consume. Keep your eye on the meat and ask your waiter for suggestions, especially when it comes to unusual meats such as octopus or beef tongue. Don’t be afraid to ask for wooden chopsticks, as metal chopsticks are heavy and hard to use.
Most houses offer a set price per person, for a designated amount of time. I wouldn’t recommend starving yourself, but do eat light throughout the day so that you can appreciate the large portions of meat. Ban-chan is usually complimentary and free refills are provided. Ask for rice too — it’s a great palate cleanser between bites. As for beverages, sip Makgeolli (unfiltered rice brew) or Soju (sweet, mild Vodka), or a non-alcoholic smoothie to balance the savory flavors with a little bit of sweet. While dessert is not usually offered, always say yes to ice cream macaroons.
Well, it’s now or never. Browse our selection of Korean barbecue eateries below, and if you hear the call of Korean barbecue, make your plans for the week.
6 Korean BBQ Restaurants You Need to Try in Orange County
1. Gen Korean BBQ House
Multiple locations, genkoreanbbq.com
Enjoy watching your marinated meats sizzle and caramelize right before your very eyes as you cook your meal from start to finish – or at least that’s what Gen says. With a wide selection of meats, seafood, veggies and traditional Korean ban-chan, your options are unlimited. Their rules are simple: it’s all-you-can-eat for 2 hours, and as soon as your meat is on the grill you can order another round. Just remember, you’ll have to pay a $5 charge for any leftovers. It’s only $14.99 for lunch and $19.99 for dinner, so you may as well bring the whole family to the feast.
2. Mo Ran Gak Restaurant
9651 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844 | mo-ran-gak.cafe-inspector.com
Sip seaweed soup and bone broth as you browse the menu and prepare to order at Mo Ran Gak. Although it’s an a la carte menu, their delicious meats go down easy with a handful of authentic Korean dishes. Known for their Korean-style pancake, steamed egg and naengmyeon (cold noodles), it’s become a beloved location for many in the area — in fact, bring friends and enjoy their free coffee and tea dispenser while you wait to be seated. Once inside, prepare for nothing but impeccable service and a high-quality meal.
3. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeon
Multiple locations, 678us.com
You might recognize the name – that’s right, Kang Ho Dong is a South Korean celebrity, a former wrestler turned TV host, who happens to run a restaurant chain in his spare time. Inside Baekjeon, expect an extravagant experience that wouldn’t be complete without life-sized cardboard cutouts of Kang Ho Dong and the upbeat tunes of K-pop in the background. As for the food, it may be on the pricier side with set courses at $44.99 and $79.99, but Baekjeon is known for its premium quality cuts. While you’re there, make sure to try their dosirak – a Korean kid’s lunch box with meat, egg, kimchi and small anchovies over rice.
4. Mr BBQ
305 N State College Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831| mrbbqfullerton.com
Located right by CSU Fullerton, Mr BBQ is prone to long lines, but they’ve been praised over and over again for their ability to handle hefty crowds with ease. You can wait for a table in their sizeable waiting room, complete with 2 tables and a handful of games for the kids. Opt for their $24.99 all-you-can-eat dinner option to start, which includes their highly favored Wagyu Beef, but feel free to upgrade to their $33.99 premium dinner option at any time. While you’re satisfying your hunger, quench your thirst with one of their excellent beverages, like a Soju Peach Slushy.
5. Cham Sut Gol Korean BBQ
9252 Garden Grove Blvd Ste 10, Garden Grove, CA 92844
Have some Korean barbecue, and some ice cream too. Cham Sut Gol offers a simple menu of meat, meat and more meat. Opt for the $18.99 or $22.99 all-you-can-eat meal, with your choice of soup, as well as rice paper and kimchi sides. Now for the best part: Cham Sut Gol offers all-you-can-eat Thrifty ice cream. Savor their notoriously popular spicy shrimp or spicy pork, and soothe yourself with rich, creamy ice cream.
6. I Can Barbecue Korean Grill
5781 Alton Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92618 | icanbbq.net
I can barbecue, and so can you! At I Can Barbecue, cook your meat and seafood the way you like with their grill-your-own menu. It’s $16.99 for lunch or $24.99 for dinner. In addition to their 20+ item menu, if you come for lunch, enjoy their lunch specials: short rib soup, kimchi pancakes and so much more. Single diner options and jumbo-size combos are also available. Oh, and how could we forget? Top your meal off with their ice cream macaroons.