Right now there is simply no better way to dine out as a group than to gather a slew of friends for Korean barbecue. And there have never been better places to do so, from Koreatown classics to modern restaurants upending tradition. Young chefs all over the country are rewriting the barbecue rules at new restaurants like NYC’s Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong to Trove in Seattle. See what we’re ordering, how we’re grilling, and what shots we’re doing.
If the server insists on grilling for you, let him or her do it. That’s what happens at the best places. But if they don’t, then please: Keep your eye on the meat. Flip from time to time for even cooking. If a piece looks done, place it to the side so it doesn’t overcook. Or better yet, eat it.
Banchan are complimentary small plates meant to complement the meal (but you can graze at any time.) You’ll often find two kimchis, seasoned sprouts, daikon radish, and potato salad. Feel free to ask for refills.
Order a mix of beef and pork, and marinated and unmarinated preparations. Getting kalbi (marinated short rib) and samgyeopsal (unmarinated pork belly) is never a bad move.
One reason the meal is such fun: It’s a chance to drink a bit too much, then head to the noraebang (karaoke). Make sure your neighbor’s glass is always full (and never pour your own drink). As a matter of respect, pour using both hands. And always fill the glass to the top. Your options:
Beer: Hite and OB, the Coors of Korea.
Soju: Like a sweet, mild vodka
Makgeolli: Milky-white unfiltered rice brew
Pro tip: Koreans love drinking games. Try the Seoul Train, a line of soju shots atop beer glasses. Ask your server.