One of the best ways to explore a new culture is through its foods and if you’re looking to sample the best cuisine in Seoul then trying these Korean BBQ places is a must! Immerse yourself in Korean culture as you cook your own beef, pork, or lamb on a tabletop stove! A Korean restaurant that specializes in barbecue is known as a “gogi-jip,” or meat house (“gogi” means meat in Korean). Many offer hanwoo, the premium Korean equivalent of Japan’s Kobe beef. There’s just one problem though: there are so many gogi-jip choices in Seoul it can be overwhelming to try and decide where to go. This guide to the best Korean BBQ is just what you need to help you decide where to eat in Seoul.
Maple Tree House
Maple Tree House first opened in 2005 in a quaint house in Samchong-dong, Seoul. There is also a Maple Tree House in Itaewon and Gangnam. Maple Tree House is a family-friendly restaurant loved by locals and travelers from all over the world. It’s a great place to kickstart your adventure into the world of Korean BBQ. The Maple Tree House masterfully crafts premium beef cuts are aged perfectly to bolster flavor and further tenderize the already tender cuts. Their pork is chilled fresh and carefully stored in optimum conditions to provide the best taste and texture possible. Apart from the incredible meats on offer, the Maple Tree House has an authentic accompanying menu, utilizing proven Korean traditional recipes and the freshest of ingredients.
If you’re not comfortable cooking your own hanwoo then Wangbijib is a great place to go for an introduction to the ins-and-outs of a Korean BBQ. Here, waitstaff grill the meat for you so all you have to do is sit back and watch the magic unfold (and maybe take mental notes so you can try it too). Wangbijib restaurants are also known for having excellent ventilation systems in place so you can enjoy your meal without having to smell like gogi upon your departure. Of course, the real beauty of Wangbijib lies in the quality of their melt-in-your-mouth meat, which is served lightly seasoned with salt. The ‘snowflake’ marbling, which refers to the veins of white that adorn especially prized cuts, ensures a buttery richness without too much fattiness.
Usually beef is the star of a Korean barbeque but at WooSung Galbi pork is the showstopper. You’ll find WooSung Galbi in the middle of Yaksu Market so it’s a great place to stop for a bite to eat after a day of exploring. WooSung Galbi is a perfect place for the visitor seeking a more authentic, old-school Korean dining experience. This is definitely a “no-frills” restaurant, you’ll sit on plastic chairs, in a dining room with little to no decor. But this simplicity is super effective. The menu only has 2 choices, but they’re both amazing. You can choose from either pork galbi or the pork rinds, or both! WooSung Galbi is also affordable so if you’re traveling to Seoul on a tight budget then it’s a great place to eat. For just 12,000 won a serving, you can fill up on galbi without burning a hole in your wallet.
While Korean galbi is most often cooked over an open grill, it can also be served in galbi jjim. This is an addictive dish of quality beef short ribs seasoned in soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and other spices, and simmered and slow-cooked in a beef broth. It may not be prepared like a traditional barbecue, but it’s still a major part of many Korean BBQ menus. One of the best places to try this specialty is Seocho Myeonok, which serves up generous portions of galbi jjim in scorching clay pots. The restaurant’s famous broth also has mushrooms and peppers in it to further the flavor, adding just the right amount of sweetness and spiciness to create a dish that’s as memorable as it gets. It’s a local’s favorite and any curious traveler will love it too.
If you’re on a solo adventure in Seoul then Baetjang is a must-visit place to eat. It used to be unheard of to be able to walk into a Korean BBQ restaurant and order a meal for one as it’s usually a group experience but a number of restaurants are starting to cater for people dining alone. Baetjang boasts a long bar perfectly suited for solo travelers. Each person gets their own miniature grills to cook their meat on so you can enjoy your Korean BBQ in peace. Baetjang has some of the best meat in the city too. The restaurant’s all-Hanu (Korean beef) menu includes skirt meat, sirloin, and short loin. While the minimum order starts at around 30,000 won, you won’t be sorry for paying a little extra for this incredible flavor experience. Just go easy on the soju so you can fully enjoy the flavor experience that awaits you.
Mapo Sutbul Galbi
Don’t let the unassuming interior of Sutbul Mapo Galbi fool you. What it lacks in décor, it makes up for in its exquisite marinated galbi, or short ribs. The secret to the tasty dish is the restaurant’s special marinade recipe, which utilizes plums in place of the more traditional brown sugar that creates a natural sweetness, taking the sauce to an entirely new level. Friendly servers are also willing to help you cook the meat, and explain how to pair the galbi with the different dips that are provided. As an added bonus, Sutbul Mapo Galbi never closes, so you can enjoy BBQ at any hour of the day.
Serving up some of the highest quality, hardest-to-find Hana cuts, you won’t be disappointed after a Korean BBQ at Tuppul Deungshim. The restaurant’s prized meats, like its aged sirloin, are top-notch, and pair beautifully with the wines on offer. Unsurprisingly, prices are fairly high, but Tuppul Deungshim does offer a more affordable lunch menu, with items priced as low as 10,000 won. Diners on a budget can still enjoy the unique tastes on offer at Tuppul Deungshim.
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