If you are visiting South Korea for the first time, besides eating their delicious street foods and kimchi, you have to try out their barbecue at least once! Depending on what you order, it can be quite expensive, but it’s a great experience!
This is not the first time I’ve tried Korean barbecue as I have tried it in Singapore with my sister and friends. I recall during the Covid pandemic, the staff had to make sure everyone was 2 metres apart. One of the staff even took out a measuring tape to measure our shoulders to another table of guests to make sure it was 2 metres apart! In a proper Korean BBQ restaurant, the staff are expected to help you to cook your meat. Whilst if you visit a Korean BBQ buffet, you are expected to cook it from scratch. Even though I had tried Korean BBQ before, it is not the same as trying it in Korea. It was so delicious and authentic.
On our second day in Seoul (rainy day), we just walked to the nearest Korean BBQ restaurant we could find as it was only a 5-minute walk from our hotel. Looking at the menu, the waitress tried to explain to us the meat packaging. But it got lost in translation and we ended up just pointing fingers to the set on the menu that also came with a beer!
When the dishes of raw food came, the waitress/waiter did all the cooking, from steaks to pork rib meat. When it was ready, she/he would place it on a small rack inside the BBQ pit. The meats were flavoursome and tender. Surrounding the table were dishes of kimchi, radishes and fresh vegetable leaves for wrapping. The place can get quite smoky even though they have an extractor hose directly above the BBQ pit. The meal cost us approximately 130,000krw (£90) for four persons.
The other time we had a Korean BBQ (day 4), was when we were on our day trip with SA Tour, near Nami Island. We were required to pre-order our lunch via our tour guide due to the tight schedule. According to our tour guide, all the restaurants near Nami Island mostly sell chicken barbecue and they all taste very similar. Maybe due to this place being a tourist attraction, the restaurants want to cater for those who can’t eat beef or pork.
Again, there was a hill to climb before we reached the restaurant. They had already prepared the meal for us when we arrived. We had two portions of charcoal grilled chicken galbi, two portions of salt grilled chicken galbi, a plate of potato pancake and a plate of buckwheat crepe. Again, the meats were delicious and tender. The crepe was crispy on the outer layer and soft in the middle. The potato pancake was a bit too dense for our liking. I wouldn’t order that again if I had the choice. This place didn’t take a credit card, but luckily we had enough cash (97,000 KRW) on us!
Before we headed off to Nami Island, my son decided to use the toilet in the restaurant. Little did we know, it was a unisex toilet with two closed-door toilets with two urinals on the side. There was little privacy and he had to walk past the ladies, who gave him a hard stare when he was making his way to the urinal. This begs the question, what do you think of unisex toilets? Personally, I hate going to toilets that designed for both sexes, especially if that is the only toilet for the whole restaurant.
Anyway, if you are visiting Korea, make sure you treat yourself to a Korean BBQ!