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May 14, 2008 11:10 AM

Best Korean BBQ in K-town.

Charcoal grills preferred. Taking an out of towner and his 5yo out to dinner tomorrow night and they have requested Korean BBQ. My standby is Kum Gang San, but wanted to know if there is something better out there. As I said...charcoal would be good too. I normally wouldn't mind hole-in -the-wall, but since the little one will be with us...waterfalls and/or modern flashy would be a good thing to keep him entertained. TIA.

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  1. madangsui - much talked about on the boards (ive posted about it a couple times), much better than kum gang san

    3 Replies
    1. re: Lau

      Yeah, I did like Madangsui a lot. One warning to the OP -- it's gas grills. But the quality of the meat is really good that I'd rather have the gas grilled Madangsui over mediocre meat grilled over charcoal.

      1. re: Miss Needle

        good point, supposedly they're switching to wood chips, but we'll see if that happens

        1. re: Lau

          thanks. i just made a reservation. no wood chips yet. will report back!

    2. I think Won Jo uses charcoal. Also, I like the bbq at Woo Chun (on 35 or 36 st -- can't remember if it's gas or charcoal). Neither one of these places is very flashy, though. FWIW, I generally don't like Kum Gang San. Wherever you go, I hope you enjoy!

      5 Replies
      1. re: cjk5

        You're right. Won Jo does use charcoal. Haven't had the BBQ at Woo Chun, though.

        Not the biggest fan of Kum Gang San, but I do like their yuk gae jang (spicy shredded beef soup with scallions) and the jae yook kim chi dol sot bap (pork and kimchi bi bim bap). And I think their banchan is better than most of the other K-town restaurants. Their BBQ is not very good, though.

        1. re: Miss Needle

          surprisingly the bbq at woo chun on 36th is pretty decent, i think their panchan and regular dishes are atrocious though

          they have a kalbi that is called like special kalbi or woo chun kalbi or something like that that is more expensive and a different cut of meat that i thought was surprisingly good

          that said i still go to madangsui

          1. re: Lau

            I agree that the banchan at Woochon on 36th isn't that great. I do love their spicy lamb soup with perilla seeds. Perfect on a cold winter day. I've eaten at the Flushing Woochon a couple of times and I found the banchan much better there. Do you remember if Woo Chon is gas or charcoal?

            Oh, I hope Madangsui gets rid of the gas grills. That would be awesome!

            1. re: Miss Needle

              oh interesting, that sounds pretty good

              i want to say that its gas, but its been a while, so i could be wrong

        2. re: cjk5

          always had bad experience at wonjo, def. wouldn't go there.

        3. the kalbi at madang sui is great, however the bulgogi and daeji bulgogi were not as impressive

          3 Replies
          1. re: Whatsgood

            not to be flippant, but im not sure why people order bulgogi at bbq places...the way i look at its something ure going to eat at home or a cheap place. Dont get me wrong, i like it, but i think its definitely the wrong thing to be judging a serious korean bbq place by

            1. re: Lau

              well madang sui is my top recommended korean bbq place, just want to make people aware, wasnt basing my entire outlook of the place by its bulgogi

            2. re: Whatsgood

              have to disagree, i thought their bulgogi was really tender and velvety, one of the best versions I've had, and I dont really like bulgogi as a rule, more of a kalbi gal.

            3. So, went to Madangsui last night and it was very good. Definitely agree that the Galbi was better than the bulgogi. Much more flavorful. Wish we had known before we ordered one of each. Also had the chicken which was good and the wild mushrooms which were a big hit.

              For starters we had steamed shrimp dumplings...frozen from chinatown..blech. But the fried pork dumplings were fantastic as were the clear noodles and ground beef in soy sauce. I only got a little but and definitely wanted more of this.

              The banchan was good....all vegetarian...great kimchee. They also brought some nice egg custards with scallions, spicy tofu soup, cold cucumber in a vinegar with tofu and a katsu fish.

              I will return....even though the service is pretty bad. (the dishes piled up and never cleared even after the check arrived and orange slices came out and they forgot our fried dumplings and a pancake that we ended just canceling). The hostess was very nice and said Goodbye Jennifer when we left as she has known me forever.

              I say give it a shot. Plus, it was nice going home and not stinking of BBQ....the only plus to cooking with gas.

              12 Replies
              1. re: jenniebnyc

                Thanks for the report. Yeah, I probably wouldn't order something like steamed shrimp dumpling at a Korean restaurant.

                1. re: jenniebnyc

                  i generally stick to their bbq dishes and then usually order some type of chigae (soup), some of which were surprisingly good

                  1. re: jenniebnyc

                    Went to Madangsui last night. We had great service, but we went early and the place was pretty empty (thought not when we left)! The marinated Kalbi was delicious, as was the spicy pork.

                    For some reason, they brought out a separate little table-top grill for the bulgoki, which had a moat of water around the bottom, giving the final product a disappointingly bland steamed consistency. Everywhere else I've had bulgoki puts it right on the grill, which is delicious. Anybody know why they don't here?

                    The sides were very good and we, too, liked the spicy tofu stewy thingie and the bubbling egg-custard whatchamacallit. (Can you tell I'm not Korean?)

                    All in all, we really liked this place, though I still prefer the wood-chip style at Soot Bul, even if I do go home smelling like I've just been sitting around a campfire.

                    1. re: jenniebnyc

                      Yeah the service is really bad right? I liked the Galbi and egg custard too but does anyone else find the whole room depressing?

                      1. re: eatyououtofhouseandhome

                        Hi eatyououtof...
                        I know just what you mean. Something about it seemed cold and unfinished. On their web site, they make it look so warm and inviting, but it was anything but. I found the service to be good however but, as I said, we went early and the place was pretty quiet.

                        1. re: foodluvngal

                          I like the room. The service is generally good, although sometimes a lack of English is a problem, and the server will walk off while you're asking them to explain something. The assistant manager and the hostess are both very friendly and helpful.

                        2. re: eatyououtofhouseandhome

                          It's just a modern style room, kind of spare but not depressing by any stretch of the imagination. I actually found the service above average and friendly for a Korean place.

                          1. re: jeanki

                            on an absolute basis, the restaurant decor and service are whatever. however, vis-a-vis the rest of ktown i think the decor is definitely nicer and the staff is in-line to better than avg. although i agree that it definitely helps to have a korean speaker though id say that for almost every korean restaurant

                          2. re: eatyououtofhouseandhome

                            i agree with you about the room, but our service was really good. in fact, it was attentive to the point of being a little claustrophobic. a fellow who seemed like a manager was at our table from the moment our meats arrived and insisted on grilling everything for us. several waitresses came to serve as well, and on the way out the hostess engaged us in a conversation about our meal and our experience with korean cuisine in general.
                            as for the food, our meal was generally very good (i'll second the rave for the wild mushrooms). i'm looking forward to trying it again as we let our guests do the ordering, and they picked some items that wouldn't have been my choice.

                            1. re: wleatherette

                              I'm pretty sure the woman you call the hostess is actually one of the managers. There's a hostess who sits in the a little cubicle near the door.

                              1. re: Peter Cuce

                                ah, i see. she was the one who showed us to our table, so that's where my assumption came from.

                              2. re: wleatherette

                                That sure sounds better WL, I think in the end it might have been an off night. As for rooms and modernity, Jean, I know what you mean, but crappy banquets are always crappy whether in antiquity, post-modernity or plain old modernity, you know? I don't want nicey-nice or glamour, trust me that would be turn-off, maybe just like, not so much like some of an industrial work-space. I love dives, but this was just kind, well, off?

                          3. Kang Suh is a lot better than Kum Gang San and just across the street. It isn't as ornate but it's a nice venue and the bbq kalbi and pajun are excellent.