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Korean BBQ

Taking a group out for Korean BBQ. Is there a "must go to" place in and around Boston?

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  1. Chung Ki Wa in Medford or Wu Chon in Somerville.

    1. New Jang Su in Burlington has been very good in the past, don't know about now, do a board search for recent reviews. they don't have booze btw, if that's important.

      11 Replies
      1. re: ScubaSteve

        New Jang Su is good but really expensive.

        1. re: joebloe

          pretty much all Korean BBQ is a little $pendy in my experience.

        2. re: ScubaSteve

          Nu Jang Su is excellent. I haven't found it expensive at all. Though the atmosphere isn't great if you're with a group that's looking for an upscale evening out, if you're with a group that just loves food and wants BYOB, go to Nu Jang Su.

          1. re: ScubaSteve

            I went to New Jang Su last week. We hadn't been there in a few years. It was just ok and they cooked 2 out of 3 dishes in aluminum foil instead of on the grill (which seemed to just miss the point of Korean BBQ?). They also scolded us for touching the food while it cooked and having the waitress hanging out at our table was a little off-putting. It was pricey too (even for Korean BBQ).
            note: we stopped at Hmart on the way home, stocked up on the marinated BBQ and cooked it on our own grill. It was better...

            1. re: noodlely

              Noodlely my experiences there have been the same as yours. They dont like you to touch it your self and last time i was there the woman doing the cooking would put the tongs on the plate of raw chicken juice/marinade between flipping and serving with them. Really grossed us out. Also thought it was overpriced and the kimchi's were not very good at all compared to other places. Have had the "spicy" pork there and they also cooked that in tinfoil as you mention.

              1. re: hargau

                good so it wasn't just me! We used to live in Toronto and most korean places are cook your own and all you can eat! I kind of miss the odd items like liver, tripe, assorted fish etc.... so we were a little surprised when we moved here.

              2. re: noodlely

                admittedly my last visit was more than a year ago but once we told our waitress we were All Set she left the plate of raw meat and a pair of scissors, we were on our own after that. and there was now foil covering the grill, thank Dog.

                1. re: ScubaSteve

                  They dont foil on the beef/shortribs its only on the dishes that are cut small and/or have onions/etc with them like the pork, maybe the chicken. The other very odd thing was that we had a basket of nice lettuce leaves left and my gf asked to take them home (she wanted them for her rabbit and figured they were just getting thrown away). Mgr came over and said no. Kind of left us wondering what they were going to do with them!?

                  1. re: hargau

                    That's seriously odd.

                    We always get pork and beef/shortribs, and have never experienced the foil or the hovering.

                    1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                      I have been there many times over many years and they always seem very upset if you as much as touch the tongs. Have even politely asked if we can do it and no luck. I suppose if I was to make a big scene or something but not really my style. Every time i have had the spicy pork dish its been on foil. Never the beef, never the shortribs

                      1. re: hargau

                        Hah! Maybe we're just too clueless to recognize that they were upset with us. :)

            2. For what it's worth there always seems to be Koreans and other Asians at Chung Ki Wa when I've been there.

              1. I prefer Chung Ki Wah's food over Koreana. Koreana has a prettier/more chic dining room, though. Haven't made it out to New Jang Su yet but it's on my to-do list, all the other Korean adoptive families I know really love it.

                  1. re: fondue

                    Not a big fan of Koreana, personally (it's serviceable, but never found it all that great)

                    I'd recommend Korea(n?) Garden in Allston nowadays, actually- I haven't had their barbecue, but their banchan and every other dish I've had there has been made well and as I was expecting. I find that a lot of Korean places do unexpected adaptations in Boston, so it's nice to find a place where things are in their "canonical" form! I don't think Korea Garden has built-in BBQ tables, but I think I've seen them bring out a gas grill for groups doing barbecue. (You might want to check with them ahead of time, if doing the grilling yourself is a crucial part of your plan!)

                    1. re: another_adam

                      I'll second Korea Garden even though they do not have the grills installed on the table. They do have portable tabletop grills, though, and I've seen tables of 10 people grilling their own dishes.

                      Korea Garden has an excellent spread of banchan and has great service. They also serve the steamed egg side dish and bean paste soup side dish, which not all kbbq serve. (Must confess that I've never been to Wu Chon, Chung Ki Wah, or New Jang Su... most of my kbbq visits have been in Chicago or LA.) Just watch out for parking, which can sometimes be a pain.

                      1. re: khanom

                        Just realized I forgot to mention that I like their bbq too :P They've got a good selection...tho I confess I usually end up with the classic kalbi. :>

                        1. re: khanom

                          i didn't know you could grill your own meat at korean garden. i've only had it prepared by the kitchen. i really like their spicy pork bulgogi. they also have the largest selection of panchan i've had at any korean restaurant in boston

                          1. re: galangatron

                            You can definitely grill your own meat...but I confess that I'm not always offered the option to grill it myself. Maybe it depends on how many grills are available?

                      2. re: fondue

                        Well, I will say that Koreana has better ventilation than Chung Ki Wa. I like the food at Chung Ki Wa better, but I just dislike bringing the BBQ smell home.

                        1. re: fondue

                          I do really like the tofu kimchee jaeyuk bokum at Koreana (stir-fried sliced prok with kimchee, chewy sliced rice cakes, and steamed tofu). I don't think Chung Ki Wah has it on the menu. But, the OP was asking about BBQ, anyway.

                          1. re: gimlis1mum

                            Speaking of dubu kimchi, Myeong Dong 1st Ave in Allston has a really tasty version (same dish: tofu, kimchi, pork, some rice cakes, in a slightly sweet pepper sauce). The tofu is in a funny shape- little architectural pyramids- and I actually hadn't ever seen dubu kimchi with rice cakes before. Is that a common Boston thing?

                            Myeong Dong might also have some barbecue dishes, actually, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be done at the table. It's really more of a place for drinking dishes (anju) anyway- the "dinner" dishes aren't where they shine, anyway...

                            1. re: another_adam

                              Gee, I don't know...I just checked my Korean cookbooks and none of them include rice cakes in the recipes for dubu kimchee. It sure is tasty, though.

                              1. re: gimlis1mum

                                Yeah, I quite like it, too! I think it's just an interesting blend of dubu kimchi (usually just tofu and kimchi, sometimes with a little pork or tuna or something) and jaeyuk bokkeum (stir-fried pork, sometimes with kimchi or rice cakes). It's kind of an inspired combination, and it's nice and homey, especially in the cold weather- it was just a surprise, and interesting to hear that it's done that way at Koreana, too! Maybe it's just more common than I realize...

                                1. re: another_adam

                                  An update onthe rice cake thing: we went to the food court at HMart last week, hubby ordered the dubu kimchee bokkeum (not sure of the exact name, but it's #13 on the menu and the dish we've been discussing) and it had the sliced rice cakes in it. I pointed them out to my friend who was with us, b/c she grew up in Seoul. She was surprised to see the rice cakes in there, so maybe it is a Boston thing :-)

                                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                                    Haha that's funny- maybe one day this combination will be known as 'boston dubu', like chicago pizza or the california roll :) (Or, maybe it's already common somewhere but just not in Seoul...)

                        2. Chung Ki Wa in Medford. In addition to high quality beef they have the greatest variety of panchan I've seen, excellent tea, and a nice yogurt drink after the meal. The only mediocre thing I've had there were some noodles.

                          Wu Chon would be my second pick if you don't want to go as far away from Boston.

                          Koreana is not bad, although both the beef and the panchan are a cut lower. However, the best thing there is the sujeonggwa, the persimmon punch served at the end of the meal.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: lipoff

                            Oh my, yes! I love the sujeongwa. I tried buying some of the canned drinks from the Korean markets, but blech.

                            1. re: kobuta

                              Where did you see it in a can? I haven't see it in H-Mart in a can before, but on the drink aisle they have sujeonggwa concentreate in foil packets. They look a bit like those "capri-sun" drinks, but you don't drink it straight --- you dillute it with water and can even add your own pine nuts! It's pretty decent. There is no English on the package so if you don't read hangul (or at least be able to sound it out!) you may want to ask someone where it is located. When I was last there it was way up on the top shelf almost in the corner.

                              1. re: lipoff

                                At Lotte in Central Square on Mass Ave. I've never bothered to look for it at HMart..maybe too disappointed with the tinny taste. Not sure they always have it though. I've found some odd items tucked in there I haven't seen at HMart. I had this great pear drink from the Lotte Market that I didn't see at HMart last time either.

                            2. re: lipoff

                              I ate at Chung Ki Wa for the first time last night. I was quite disappointed. The first indication was the corn tea. It didn't taste right and I love the stuff. Then came the salad with iceberg lettuce. Asian restaurants who want to offer a salad should learn from Dynamite Sushi up in NH where his salads are from baby romaine/mixed greens and homemade dressings like orange-papaya. They offered a good variety of side dishes but I've had better. I also ordered sushi and that was below standard. The flavor and texture of the rice wasn't good and the tuna wasn't fresh. The avocado maki was better except for the rice. For the grill, I had the deumshing beef tenderloin and spicy pork bulgogi. The beef was absolutely the worst quality - it was some sort of sad looking thinly sliced chuck roll then when grilled turned into leather (even undercooked) with a nasty taste to it. The spicy pork bulgogi was much better - similar to other restaurants. How can you screw up sweet and spicy bacon anyways? Well, there were parts that had a much stronger spice to them. Still good though. At the end, the waitress offered little yogurt type drinks. The bill was a bit high. I can't recommend the place. Maybe for lunch if you really know specific items or if you live there but there are better places to be had.

                              1. re: robertlf

                                I'm sorry! I was just there the week before and had an excellent meal from start to finish. The barley tea that we had last week was crisp tasting and just fine.

                                The only thing I can surmise is that we seem to have had completely different dishes. I've had neither salad nor sushi there. If their salads and sushi aren't great that's a shame, but perhaps just warning not to order those dishes there, rather than to avoid the whole restaurant. (I'm not a snob about this, I'm happy if a Korean restaurant has good sushi --- Koreana for example, has excellent sushi, especially a wide variety of vegetarian maki).

                                However, while I've never had the "deumshing beef tenderloin" or the pork there, the kalbi, and two different kinds of bulgogi were just terrific --- high quality meat, with excellent marinades. I found the hot pepper paste there to be the spiciest and most complex, the panchan (side-dishes) to have the greatest variety, and other items, such as the dukbukgi (rice cakes) and pajon (scallion pancake) to be the best in the area. (Wu Chon also has fine dukbukgi, and while it stays warm longer because they serve it with a sterno can underneath a metal chafing dish, I find the smell of the sterno off-putting enough to offset this).

                                I don't think it's world class, but Chung Ki Wa is where I tend to take my Korean friends when they are itching for good BBQ in this area.

                            3. i like chung ki wa in medford and koreana in cambridge for korean bbq. i haven't been to new jang su yet but i've heard good things about it

                              1. I just recently ate at Koreana on a Saturday night (April 10th). First, there was about a 45 minute wait for BBQ at 7ishpm. My friends and I didn't mind, we kept ourselves entertained for the most part.

                                2 martinis - one tasted like grape juice with a little alcohol. Mine was pretty good, but a little too strong. we barely finished them

                                We ordered 3 apps:
                                Dubokki, hamuel pajeon, and avocado salad.

                                Dubokki was not too bad, just enough spicy for me, but they put in veggies that I am not used to in it. Peppers? I just like onions, scallions and I'm happy. There were no scallions!
                                The pajeon was a TOTAL disappointment. It wasn't crispy at all, and there are virtually no seafood. I had 2 slices of the pancake and I bit into maybe 1 tiny piece of squid... where was the other seafood? The dipping sauce was the best part. The avocado salad was nothing amazing. Sliced avocado and some greens with a small splash of some sort of sauce that I couldn't really distinguish.

                                For BBQ we ordered: sam gup sal, bulgogi, and marinated chicken.

                                The sam gup sal was medicore for meat, not fatty enough nor was it very thick. the seasoning for the beef was good. But I thought the chicken trumped it all. Surprisingly it wasn't overcooked, but very juicy for chicken breast meat. They only served small slices of onion with each meat and 1 big mushroom sliced in half (so 3 whole mushrooms for 3 orders of meat seems to be pretty cheap for it costing between $17-$20 a order and they can't throw in more mushrooms or onions?) with the order. That was pretty disappointing. I like more grilled mushroom with my BBQ.
                                The side dishes were pretty okay. Nothing too special, standard side dishes, kimchi, cucumber kimchi, potato salad and 1 or 2 other banchans. BUT NO PICKLED RADISH? Ridiculous! What kind of Korean people are these? =P

                                What was strange was: We HAD TO ASK the server for gochujang and it took awhile to get it. And the amount of meat we ordered was not in proportion with perilla leaves or romaine, or sliced daikon placed on our table. Luckily, I think the owner (or manager) was walking around asking everyone if the food was good, and my guy friend actually asked him for more lettuce and radish! Hahah.

                                Finally we got 2 orders of green tea ice cream. It was pretty good, not sweet enough for me though.

                                Overall, our food arrived pretty quickly, but service in the little things like the pepper paste, and the lettuce was kind of poor. I know they were busy, but these things are essential to BBQ!

                                So overall:
                                cocktails- 2.5
                                Apps (1-5 scale) 2.5
                                BBQ 3.5-4(barely)
                                Dessert - indifferent really so 3

                                So 2 drinks, 3 apps, 3 meats, 2 desserts totaled about $115 not including tip for 4 people and we were STUFFED. I couldn't even laugh because I was so full. So I thought pricing wasn't too bad, especially for it being in Cambridge.

                                Was it the best BBQ I've ever had in my life? Not even close, but is it a decent substitute when I want BBQ and I can't make it to NY? Yeah. But I'm still searching Boston for a better place for BBQ.

                                P.s. that's the chicken with my friend as the hand model. =)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: amatuerfoodie

                                  Gee, I'm surprised about the pajeon. The group that I go there with gets it every time, and there's always been plenty of seafood. My (minor) gripe about it is that it always shows up immediately after we order it - so I guess that they've got a stack of them premade in the kitchen and just warm them up?

                                  I've only tried their dubokki/ddeokbokki once, and the rice cakes were a little undercooked to my taste - too chewy for my DCs. We all enjoyed the sauce; don't recall what the veggies were, tho.

                                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                                    Maybe the waitress heard us wrong or she just grabbed the wrong pancake. But yeah, I could not see much visible seafood. And the pajeon coming out right after ordering happened to us too! So that made me question how fresh it was, and if it was made to order (in this case, more than likely no).

                                    Our dubokki were cooked just right. Not too soft where it becomes mush, but not too chewy. I thought I found the portion small, or maybe i'm just a slow eater and my friends ate them all before i got to get more because when I pointed my chopsticks to the plate all that was left were peppers ^_^

                                2. I've been to Nu Jang Su in Burlington, Kaya in Porter Sq., Apgujung in Newton, and other places in Chicago, and my current favorite in Korean Garden in Allston. Great BBQ at the table, TONS of panchan, including some kind of soup- around $18/pp. Exactly what I expect to spend when I go out for Korean BBQ, and exactly what I want to be served- delicious!

                                  1114 Beacon St, Newton, MA

                                  Korean Garden
                                  122 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134