In the past, Korean food was as foreign as any other culture’s. But now, as a result of recent immigration and travel from Korea to the United States, Korean cuisine is slowly seeping into mainstream American culture. Korean BBQ is emerging as a popular and delicious meal among other dishes.
What is Korean BBQ
And one type of Korean food that has recently stepped out of the shadows and into America’s culinary conscious is Korean barbecue. Korean BBQ can be translated literally as “meat grilled with fire,” which describes what it is: marinated slices of beef, pork, or chicken cooked on a grill right at your table (you don’t even need to turn on the stove). The meat goes well with spicy kimchi (fermented vegetables), rice, soup, or various side dishes (banchan), such as seasoned bean sprouts and spinach salad. Korean barbecue is also usually served with a light soup, such as traditional Korean bone soup called Yook-Gae-Jang. The soup usually has noodles, vegetables, and meat in it. Korean BBQ is a treat, as you get to cook the meat yourself and have a variety of banchan at your disposal.
How Korean BBQ became so popular in the US, even amongst non-Koreans
Korean BBQ has become popular in the United States for many reasons, including that it’s delicious, and there are now more Koreans living here. There is also a considerable similarity between this type of cooking and American barbecue (grilling meat with fire), which helped make the transition easier for Americans who wanted to try something new. Korean barbeque is a social meal, and it’s a great way to make new friends. You share the food, eat together, and there’s an element of fun when cooking your meat on a grill.
Korean BBQ is also popular in the US because it’s considered a good value. Korean BBQ is usually served all-you-can-eat style in the US, with around 15 side dishes included in the price. While Americans would pay about $15 for a sandwich and chips at lunch, they can get a filling meal of Korean barbecue for under $20.
Korean BBQ is also very healthy, as it consists primarily of lean meat and fresh vegetables. This is good news for Americans who are trying to eat healthier. A typical BBQ restaurant is usually immaculate, and the meat is always fresh.
The average cost in the United States
The average price of a meal at a Korean barbecue restaurant in the US is around $15 to $20. There can be as many as 25 different side dishes to choose from, depending on where you go. More upscale places may charge $25 or more for a meal.
The price of a meal at a Korean barbecue restaurant also depends on the type and cut of meat you order. For example, marbled short ribs (Galbi) can cost around $1 per piece, whereas thinly sliced beef brisket (Bulgogi) may only be $0.50 per piece. So if you can eat more than one rib or strip of meat at a time, the price is reduced.
There is usually no tax or tip added to your bill because it’s already included in the original price listed. That means less waiting for you after dining out!
Tips for enjoying Korean BBQ
To get started at Korean BBQ, find an all-you-can-eat restaurant near where you live and enjoy the wide variety of side dishes available. To eat, pour some rice into your bowl or plate and add a few pieces of meat, along with some kimchi and soup on the side.
You can cook your meat by holding the metal tongs in one hand and poking the meat down onto the grill with another set of tongs in your other hand. Only flip the meat after about three minutes on each side to cook it evenly. Use more fire for thicker cuts of pork or beef washed down with some soju (Korean vodka).
Korean BBQ is catching on with Americans for an increasing number of reasons, but it’s still very new and not nearly as mainstream in the States as sushi. While some people will enjoy it just because it tastes good, others learn about its cultural significance and history when they eat at Korean barbecue restaurants in the United States.