Bring your friends…not just with your boy or girl friend
K-BBQ is a large-format meal that's all about eating as many different foods as possible. The more friends you invite, the more food you get to order and try.
It's kind of like a pyramid scheme, but you get a ton of grilled meat instead of money. And it also won't screw you over like a pyramid scheme. Korean barbecue is pretty expensive as premium meat prices are on the rise.
Korean food is inherently a communal enjoyment, and no where is this more apparent than at Korean barbecue meals. There’s one grill, so you’ll have to share it. And it’s just really selfish and unkorean if you have individual meat orders. So just order a few orders of meat to share with your friends, eat and enjoy.
Tong and scissors…and flip once
Usually, one person ends up manning the grill. It’s not a rule, but it usually just ends up that one person does it. It is a lot of work, but to be an awesome co-eater, take over for your friend so he/she can eat. And if you are going to take over, leave the meat in the middle to cook; that’s where the meat cooks the most. And not everyone grills it the same, but it is recommended for a single flip to keep juice loss to a minimum. And of course everyone likes meats with no burnt black. If there is any burnage, you can always cut the burnt pieces off with scissors. When you have the perfectly finished pieces of meat, place them on the edges of the grill. It’ll stay warm, but won’t cook. Also, if you want to be awesome grill master, put the finished pieces of meat directly on your co-eater’s plates so that they can eat asap. That’s ultimate grill master manners!
Grill, not just for the meat
Korean barbecue typically comes with garlic and kimchi. Some people aren’t cool with raw garlic anti-Dracula breath (although most people are pretty cool with fresh kimchi), so restaurants will grill the garlic and/or kimchi along with the meat, in particular ‘pork belly’. But if the wait staff doesn’t do it for you (not all will), just grill these two power sides by yourself. It just needs a flip before it burns (any black), and once they’re nice and grilled, you can add it to your wraps.
Ask for a new grill if one isn't given to you
Servers at a Korean BBQ spot should swap out the grill for you, depending on whether you're cooking beef or pork. If the restaurant doesn't swap the specialty grills for the meats you're cooking, ask for a new one! The servers will be happy to replace it with a clean one for free. Pork should be cooked on a plate grill. Beef needs a mesh grill. Some K-BBQ spots will have charcoal under the mesh, and some will just have a burner. If you're lucky enough to get charcoal, all the delicious drippings (like fat and marinades) from the meat will hit the charcoal, which will envelop the beef with a flavor-filled smoke.
Enjoy the banchan (and take advantage of the free refills)
"Banchan are side dishes that differ from restaurant to restaurant," Hong says. The servers will bring them out before the main course, but that doesn't mean they're an appetizer. They're meant to be sampled throughout the meal, as the dishes typically have acid and vinegar. You'll appreciate that when the acid cuts through all the rich meats soon to be on your plate.
How to wrap the meat
Korean barbecue always comes with greens [called sangchoo], and they’re meant for wrapping up nice little presents for your mouth. There’s no “right” things to wrap in the greens as many Koreans will differ on how they wrap their little galbi packages: some only wrap galbi, some wrap meat with garlic/kimchi/rice, some double up on the leaves and some just eat the greens on their own. But what’s common among all Korean barbecue eaters is that they stuff the entire wrap in their mouths all at once.
No one takes a bite halfway. That’s just weird galbi manners. So just forget whatever manners you were taught about not stuffing your face with food. Just shove it all in.
Drinks with K-BBQ
There are three basic booze options when it comes to drinking with your K-BBQ: soju (a basic rice wine), takju (a cloudy rice wine), and Korean light beer. Korean people love a soju bomb, which is when you drop a shot of soju into a glass filled with 70% beer. Also, Korean people strongly recommend Korean bear which is lighter than Australian beers.