Plaza Blog

Learn About the Rich History and Flavor of Korean Barbecue

Korean barbecue is a style of dining that has a rich history and cultural significance. It originated in Korea, where it has been enjoyed for centuries as a social activity and a way to bond with friends and family over a meal.

The origins of Korean barbecue can be traced back to the nomadic tribes of Korea, who would cook meat over an open flame or on a grill. As Korean culture developed and settled into agricultural communities, the tradition of grilling meat became more prevalent and sophisticated. By the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), Korean barbecue had become a popular and respected form of dining, with elaborate rules and etiquette surrounding the preparation and consumption of the meal.

Korean barbecue typically involves grilling thin slices of marinated meat, such as beef, pork, or chicken, at the table. It is often served with a variety of side dishes, known as banchan, which can include pickled vegetables, kimchi, and various dips and sauces. Diners can cook the meat to their desired level of doneness and then wrap it in lettuce or other vegetables, along with the banchan, to create a flavorful and satisfying bite.

Korean barbecue made its way to the United States in the 1960s, when Korean immigrants started settling in cities like Los Angeles and New York. These immigrants brought with them their culinary traditions, including Korean barbecue, which quickly gained popularity in the United States. Today, Koreatown in Los Angeles is home to many excellent Korean barbecue restaurants (like Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong), which draw in diners from all over the city and beyond.

So, what makes a Korean barbecue place so good? First and foremost, it's the quality of the meat. The best Korean barbecue restaurants source high-quality, marbled cuts of meat that are well-suited for grilling. They also typically offer a wide range of meats to choose from, including beef, pork, chicken, and even lamb or duck.

In addition to the meat, the banchan and dipping sauces also play a crucial role in the overall experience. Excellent Korean barbecue places, like Quarters Korean BBQ, offer a variety of banchan, ranging from classic dishes like kimchi and pickled vegetables to more unique options like boiled eggs or marinated tofu. The dipping sauces, typically made from a combination of soy sauce, garlic, and other ingredients, can also make or break a Korean barbecue experience.

Some of the best things to order at a Korean barbecue place include:

  • Galbi: Thinly sliced beef short ribs, typically marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and other seasonings.
  • Bulgogi: Thinly sliced beef, marinated in a sweet and savory sauce made from soy sauce, sugar, and various spices.
  • Samgyeopsal: Thick slices of pork belly, often served with dipping sauces and various banchan.
  • Dak galbi: Spicy stir-fried chicken, usually made with gochujang (Korean chili paste) and a variety of vegetables.

Overall, Korean barbecue is a delicious and social dining experience that is not to be missed. Whether you're a seasoned pro or trying it for the first time, a Korean barbecue restaurant is a great place to enjoy a hearty and flavorful meal with friends and family.