Korean BBQ: Samgyupsal and More

When we think of Korean food, most of us will immediately think of Korean Barbeque. That was also the number 1 thing my friends and family told me to try before leaving for Korea. During my trip to South Korea, we went to three different cities; Daejeon, Jeju, and Seoul. In each of these cities we made sure to have barbeque; more specifically samgyupsal (my favorite).

Samgyupsal literally means three layered meat. It is simply slices of pork belly which is similar to uncured bacon (I like this a lot more than bacon). It is usually not marinated, grilled at the table (with garlic, onions, and kimchi), and served with many Korean vegetables and side dishes.

Daejeon: 입안행복황토가마구이

Where (Phone Number and Address):
042-476-3292
대전 서구 둔산2동 세명회관빌딩1층

Getting there by Subway (in Daejeon):
LINE 1 Tanbang Exit 2 (walk towards Dunsan Nokwon Apartments “둔산녹원 아파트”
About 7 minutes
Click here for a map and directions

We went to Daejeon (via bus from Ilsan just outside of Seoul) for my friends wedding photo shoot from 10am to 4pm, and of course we were hungry for something good to eat. And when asked what we wanted to eat? We asked for Samgyupsal.

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This is probably the worst part, waiting for out meat to cook. The grill is actually very different from any I have seen before. This is a flat grill, that is place slanted over the fire. We were told to place the kimchi at the end of the grill and the meat at the top, so that the fat and juices from the meat will flow right into the kimchi as it grills.

130905Kbbq2The pork will get cut into smaller (bite sized) pieces, and grilled until golden brown. Grab a piece of lettuce, a piece of sesame leaf, a piece of pork (mandatory, everything else is optional), kimchi, some sauce, scallion salad, garlic (raw or grilled or none), rice, and eat it all in one bite. Of course you can just eat the meat by its self; it’s just so much faster that way.

130905Kbbq4We were surprised by a third (yes, we got two servings of samgyupsal) serving of meat. This time it was a different cut of pork but honestly we had no idea what exactly it was nor did our family answer us when we asked. We just ate it all up anyways. Does anyone have an idea from the picture above? It’s eaten the same way.

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AND there was more! As we were quietly enjoying our serving of meat, when the waitress came up to our grill and took some of our meat away from us. I wish I got a picture of our reaction, we were so sad that she was taking our food away from us! Anyways, it turns out she was using that meat to make fried rice.

We were actually part of a group of eight people. The samgyupsal was only served on my side of the table (the kids table) and the other side of the table had a fish soup. It is served over a table stove to keep warm and boiling as you eat and mixed with seaweed. Each person usually gets a bowl of rice, but you can opt to not get rice served after, where they make fried rice with the rest of your soup (plus some cheese and seaweed) at the end. And that is how we got our fried rice with the added meat.

That was our first Korean barbeque experience in Korea on Day 2.

Jeju: 상원가든 (Senator Garden)

Getting there (phone number and address):
064-794-1960
제주특별자치도 서귀포시 머정읍 상모리 3052
(Jeong-eup, Seogwipo, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Sangmori 3052)
Located on the south west of Jeju, a 45-60 minute drive from Seogwipo City
Click here for a map and directions

Jeju is actually known for Jeju Black Pork, which is a breed of pigs found in Jeju. They are smaller with black fur, and is said to taste different from other breeds. We actually did not try the Jeju Black Pork because we were told by our family friends that the Jeju Black Pork in Jeju is no longer the same and will disappoint (I think he was also afraid that we would get scammed and be served regular pork without knowing the difference, since it is pretty expensive).

After arriving at our guest house on the west coast of Jeju, we asked our host for a good place to eat samgyupsal (he was actually very surprised we asked for samgyupsal and probably not Jeju Black pork). He came back with a little piece of paper written in Korean with the name, the address, and a phone number. We simply entered the phone number and compared the Korean characters to find our restaurant.

130909Kbbq1It was actually a little scary getting there, because we were definitely no where near a town. We thought we were lost because we pulled up to what looked like a house with nothing around it. When we went in, no one really spoke English. We held up three fingers for three people, they pointed to a table, we sat down. Knowing how to read Korean characters came in very convenient here (even though I didn’t know what most of it meant, I knew which was samgyupsal). We just pointed at the sign for samgyupsal and tried to say it and held two fingers up for two servings. It worked! I honestly don’t know what I’m missing for not trying the Jeju black pork. What I do know is that the samgyupsal we had in Jeju was very very yummy!

The restaurant had what seemed like an open kitchen, which was cool because I could see the chef cutting up the pork, and I don’t think it was ever frozen (good to know that we’re getting fresh meat. Is it sad that my mouth was already watering when I saw the chef cutting up my pork?

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Two servings of samgyupsal was just enough for the three of us.

And on a warm summer day, it’s perfect to end the meal with Nangmyeon or cold noodle (another one of my favorite Korean dishes). There are usually two options –  bibim-nangmyeon (spicy cold noodles with out soup) and mul-nangmyeon (cold noodles in a meat broth), we chose the latter choice. As you can see in the picture below, there is no soup. I actually thought I ordered the wrong one, but out came a pot with the soup. I’ve never had it this way, but I’m guessing it’s a specialty? I poured the soup in over the noodles, mixed everything together, and then added vinegar and mustard to taste.

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That was our second Korean barbeque experience in Korea on Day 6.

Seoul: 돈코보쌈 & 생고기 (Donko Bossam & Sseng Kogi)

Where (phone number and address):
02-333-9279
서울 마포 연남동 568-38

Getting there:
LINE 2 Hongdae Ipgu Exit 1
Click here for a map and directions

As a treat to thank us for coming all the way to Korea for our friends wedding, her parents took us out to another good meal. Knowing our love for Samgyupsal, they took us to another good restaurant. It is always a treat go out to eat with them because they always introduce us to new foods.

This place is a three minute walk from the Hongdae subway stop, but we took the extra long way to get there. Our three minute walk turned into a 30 minute walk, thanks to our friend Sebas (who was in Korea teaching English). That definitely worked up our appetite.

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Donko Bossam & Sseng Kogi on the outside doesn’t look like much but once you’re inside you will see that this place is famous. Is has been featured on TV (in Korea) several times. The walls inside the the restaurant are lined with pictures of celebrities and their autographs.

By the time we got there, the food was already on the table and almost ready to eat (thanks to our extra long walk). Like the first place we went to, the samgyupsal was also served on a slanted grill. However, instead of placing the kimchi at the bottom to collect the oil, the kimchi was served in what seemed like soup on the side of the grill. This was something different but I think I prefer the kimchi grilled.

Also different from the other places we went to, was what we ate the samgyupsal with. Aside from the usual lettuce, sesame leafs, kimchi,  sauce, etc. there was also a plate of pan fried dumpling skins. This was also used to wrap the meat. Having the added dumpling skin made it a little more filling (I love my carbs in any form).

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Of course we also had to try the restaurant’s specialty, an assorted platter that includes smoked duck (the red meat in the front), bossam (the slices of pork in the middle), and soondae (the pork blood sausages in the back and on the far right). The smoked duck is usually eaten with yellow mustard, and could also be wrapped with lettuce and sesame leaves. I’m not sure if I was eating it correctly but I also wrapped the bossam with the vegetables and ate it in one bite.  The soondae on the other hand was dipped in a salted shrimp sauce and eaten by itself. This dish was probably overshadowed by our love for samgyupsal, but it was still something worth trying.

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Of course our favorite samgyupsal!

That was our third Korean barbeque experience in Korea on Day 10.

***Thank you Yunti for helping me write about these three amazing dinners! I was just getting too hungry thinking about all of the food (how do food bloggers do it?).

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