Those who know me know that I like meat. I’m an unrepentant carnivore.
So, naturally, I have spent much of the scant recreational time I have during the Olympic Games in search of the best Korean barbeque available in the PyeongChang area.
Living in Los Angeles, I’m acquainted with the tradition of Korean barbeque – but I figured that, being in the motherland, I could treat myself to the very best. My first two attempts at local Korean BBQ dining were good – but neither was a meat-eater’s home run.
And then, last night, I found — and enjoyed — Korean BBQ heaven.
Our cameraman Corey found the place. It was a 20-minute cab ride from our Phoenix Park hotel – but we were hungry for adventure (and barbequed beef) so we were down for the excursion.
What follows is a pictorial progression through a beef lover’s Korean BBQ pilgrimage. Vegan’s need not apply…
This is the downstairs dining area. You’ll note that there are only Koreans here at this point in the evening. That is absolutely a good sign. We’ve come to the right place.
This night was Korean Lunar New Year. And the South Koreans were enjoying one of their biggest annual holidays. (See Vietnam’s Tet.) Does the Tet Offensive ring a bell?
We didn’t realize it when we set out, but the restaurant would get very, very busy — and we would have to wait a while to be seated, unlike these folks who shared a special Asian room, with no chairs.
(No shoes, please.)
After dinner, we’d be unable to get a cab ride home because of the busy holiday, but that’s another matter.
The whole evening took 5 hours. But, all in all, it was well worth it!
The first step in traditional Korean Barbecue is to visit the butcher and buy your cuts of meat.
This woman knows her meat. She explained that the steer we’d be eating was raised organically, with no hormones, grass fed — and A #1. She was not bullshitting.
We bought our beef BEFORE we cooked it. That’s the way it goes. You buy your meat first, then you get seated — and your drinks and everything else are billed later. Meat is Job #1.
With cameraman Corey in the lead, we hauled out cuts of beef to the upstairs dining room after a 20-minute wait. We were famished — but we anticipated beefy, tasty, spicy joy in our near future.
The upstairs dining room. It’s getting busy. The meat is about to get cooking…
Unlike our cold, steel and glass hotel in Phoenix Park, this Korean BBQ place features warm wood and delightful crystal chandeliers — which we would later learn are from the United States!
Seated across the table from me are my AP, Agatha, and my EP, David. We’re all hungry.
First come the condiments: onions, garlic, chili paste, peppers, sea salt & other culinary joys.
Next, they fire up the tabletop grill. The main meat-lovers event is about to go down…
As the meat grills, you combine ingredients into your bowl — in my case, chili paste, peppers, onions and garlic — so you can plunge your beef bits deep into this spicy heaven.
Next, Corey pulls down the exhaust fan. Otherwise, we’ll all be asphyxiated….
Our waiter provides some assistance. Everyone is helpful. They all want us to have a great time.
As our first beef course sears on the grill, our crew poses for a pre-meal photo. We’ve all been working hard — and we’re eager for a great meal. Luckily, David & Corey are Korean BBQ experts.
Corey took over as grillmaster. For those of you who know me from Greek Easter — you can appreciate how much I respect Corey’s Korean BBQ chops!
Each cut of beef was better than the next — and the last course was the best of all…
Corey was far too modest. His grilling of that last fabulous cut of beef was superb. But our meal was not yet complete. Corey had another great idea…
At Corey’s suggestion we ordered this. Somehow, all of this tasty goodness boiled down into an incredible, sweet beef and veggie soup.
And finally, here’s our host. Jean went to college and spent a lot of time in Los Angeles (as have a lot of educated South Koreans we’re met). She returned to South Korea a year ago and started running this restaurant — recognized on Trip Advisor as the best in PyeongChang.
I’m awarding her an Winter Olympic Gold Medal for the Best Korean BBQ.
All hail, Jean!