What is Korean BBQ and How to Eat it

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT KBBQ, ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS KOREAN FOODS

Antoya Korean BBQ
Antoya Korean BBQ

Fire up the grill. Korean BBQ is a communal dining experience that involves grilling marinated meat over a charcoal grill or gas grill. This smoky tableside epicurean endeavor involves lots of thinly sliced meat, fermented and pickled vegetables, and fun times.

Korean barbecue is a grill-it-yourself or grill-in-front-of-you feast that is as enjoyable to cook as it is to eat. Quality cuts of meat, fresh veggies, and savory sauces combine for an eat-a-thon you and your dining companions won’t soon forget.

Read More: Types of BBQ: Regional American Barbecue Styles Explained

What Does Korean BBQ Consist of?

Korean barbecue consists of:

  • Sliced meat, most commonly beef, but also pork and chicken
  • Sauce like ssamjang (soybean paste and chili paste) and gochujang (a spicy chili paste)
  • Lettuce or perilla leaves
  • Garnishes like sliced garlic, scallions, and toasted sesame seeds
  • Banchan (small side dishes). Types of banchan include kimchi, marinated veggies, spicy cucumbers, bean sprouts, and sautéed spinach.
  • Rice
  • Doenjang jjigae (bean paste soup)

Popular KBBQ meats include:

  • Bulgogi (beef like brisket, ribeye, or sirloin)
  • Galbi (beef short ribs)
  • Samgyeopsal (pork belly)
  • Dwaeji Bulgogi (spicy pork)
  • Buldak (“fire” chicken)

The meat in Korean barbecue is marinated in sauces like:

  • Gochujang (chili paste)
  • Doenjang (soy sauce)
  • Chamgireum (toasted sesame oil)
Chris Oh’s Korean BBQ Kit
Chris Oh’s Korean BBQ Kit
Wagyu Korean BBQ Kit
Chris Oh’s Korean BBQ Kit | Wagyu

What Does Korean BBQ Taste Like?

Korean BBQ tastes like delicious barbecue. This Korean-style grilling has the hallmarks of other barbecue types. KBBQ’s marinated meats are juicy, tender, smoky, and slightly charred. The thinly sliced meats with the perfect amount of fat melt in your mouth.

The marinades and dipping sauces are rich and filled with umami. It’s the perfect marriage of meat, marinate, and fat. A Korean barbecue feast includes all kinds of textures — chewy and crunchy — and tastes: sweet, savory, spicy, sour, and bitter.

Korean barbecue is a feast for the senses. Freshly grilled meat can be eaten straight after grilling. It is also commonly dunked in sauce or served ssam (wrapped in leaves like lettuce and perilla leaves).

Why is Korean BBQ so Popular?

Korean BBQ is popular because it is tasty. This dining experience is interactive and fun. Diners get to not only enjoy a delicious grilled barbecue meal, but they also get to have fun preparing it. 

Using chopsticks, diners pick up pieces of sliced marinated meats and place them directly on the grill. Scissors are often included to make it easier to slice up larger pieces of meat into bite-size morsels. 

Grilled meat is then dipped in sauce and eaten. Grilled meat can also be dunked in sauce, enhanced with garnishes, and then wrapped in lettuce or perilla leaves. KBBQ is also a crowd pleaser thanks to the variety of meats and flavor profiles, from sweet to savory to spicy. KBBQ also has something for everyone as it is served with a seemingly endless assortment of banchan.

This is often accompanied by Korean drinking games like Sam Yuk Gu (3-6-9), a counting game in which players cannot say a number that contains 3, 6, or 9.

Is Korean BBQ Always Beef?

Korean BBQ isn’t always beef, but beef, like short rib, is the most common meat. Beef, pork, and chicken are the most popular KBBQ meats. Other popular meats to grill include:

  • Gopchang (beef or pork intestines)
  • Gyutan (beef tongue)
  • Makchang (beef stomach)
Bulgogi Korean BBQ
Chris Oh’s Korean BBQ Kit
Antoya Korean BBQ 2
Antoya Korean BBQ

Most Famous Korean BBQ

You don’t have to travel to Korea to enjoy some of the world’s most famous Korean BBQ.

Korean BBQ Beef Galbi Kit

Antoya Korean BBQ

Since 2018, Antoya Korean BBQ has been serving some of the finest Korean barbecue in New York City’s Koreatown. The Michelin Bib Gourmand winner has a famous marinated, diamond-cut Galbi recipe that has been made for generations.

Korean BBQ Kit for 4-6

Chris Oh’s Korean BBQ Kit

Chef Oh’s Korean BBQ Kits was founded in Los Angeles in 2020. Celebrity chef Chris Oh assembles and ships boxes of exceptional Korean meats like:

  • short rib
  • Beef
  • pork belly
  • homemade sauces
  • exciting banchan

Chef Oh’s Korean BBQ Kits are oh-so-perfect for having your own KBBQ at home.

COTE Korean Steakhouse

COTE Korean Steakhouse

COTE Korean Steakhouse is the world’s only Michelin-starred Korean tabletop barbecue restaurant. Founded in 2017 in New York City, Simon Kim’s restaurant combines the classic KBBQ experience with American steakhouse prime cuts. The result is grilling perfection you won’t soon forget.

Turn up the heat with KBBQ. The best Korean BBQ, including quality meats, beautiful banchan, and superior sauces, is shipping nationwide on Goldbelly!

Lauren-Mack
Lauren Mack

Lauren Mack is a journalist who writes about all things food for Goldbelly. She is passionate about exploring the world one meal at a time. Her favorite things to Goldbelly include cakes, biscuit sandwiches, and ice cream.

Lauren has been a journalist for more than two decades and has specialized in writing about travel and food for much of that time. Her work has appeared in 150+ websites, magazines, apps, and guidebooks, including Cheapflights, CultureTrip, INSIDER, Lonely Planet, Newsweek International, Savory Traveler, Seeker, The Daily Meal, ThoughtCo (formerly About.com), Thrillist, Time Out, TripSavvy, and Zagat.

A lover of Taiwan's night markets, Singapore's hawker centers, and New York City's food trucks, Lauren has never skipped a meal or dessert. She has an insatiable appetite for exploring the world's best food and will try — almost — anything. Her favorite foods are pizza, ice cream, dim sum, sushi, and Taiwanese braised pork rice, and she can't resist a chef's tasting menu.

From backpacking across Europe and Asia to circumnavigating the globe by ship to living like a local in multiple cities, her travels have taken her on food explorations to 60+ countries on five continents. She has called Miami, Beijing, Taipei, and New York home.