Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great Korean BBQ in San Bruno!

Yes, you can find great Korean food south of San Francisco, as the following review points out. Abridged from a review written by Jack Phillips for The Epoch Times, June 11-17, 2009.

SAN BRUNO - Located on El Camino Real, Seoul Kal-Bi, offers some of the best Korean barbeque on the Peninsula. The aroma of cooked marinated meat is the first thing you notice as you walk into the restaurant, which is welcoming. If you are looking for a very formal atmosphere or one with lots of Korean decor or paintings, this is not the restaurant for you. Seoul Kalbi Barbeque is more akin to a Western-style buffet.

This is a self-serve restaurant, if one chooses the buffet option, which is all-you-can-eat and costs slightly more than a normal meal at any other Korean restaurant. The staff is friendly, although the first language they speak is Korean (which) can make it somewhat difficult to communicate with them. I saw them helping out American customers in their attempts at barbecuing the meat, which itself isn't too complicated a process.

If you have a large group of people, the all-you-can-eat barbeque is the way to go. Choosing and cooking your own meat can be fun. If you choose the buffet option, you basically go and pick your meat at the buffet, take it back to the table, cook and eat as much as you can. If you want more, then go and repeat the process. For real barbecued meat, the effort is totally worth it.

One factor that makes this Korean barbeque place stand out is its use of real charcoal briquettes at each table. There are no gas grills. This makes for a delicious, smoked flavor. Food gets on your plate quickly, however. After the fire starts going, the meat cooks quickly since it is cut into thin strips.

The meat itself was overall (quite) good. Compared with Chinese food, Korean food proves to be light on the grease and the calories. Having grown up with barbecue, I think that this style of cooking can be enjoyed by anyone who eats meat.

I had the pork, short ribs and chicken, as well as the beef. The marinades on the meat were very good and surpassed what I was used to. I didn't try the squid or the shrimp... One thing that Korean people like to do is to get a large lettuce leaf, which is offered at the buffet, and after grilling (the) meats, place the meat inside the lettuce leaf and eat it like a wrap.

Normal meals are reasonably priced starting at around $9 to $10. I would recommend this place, especially to families and group outings. The buffet offers fresh meats such as kabi (Korean short ribs), squid, shrimp, chicken, grilled pork, various fruits and various vegetables, all at $21.99 for an adult, or $14.99 for kids. This would be the perfect place to take your entire family.

In my view, the thing that makes this place stand out is the actual real charcoal and fire at each table. This restaurant gets pretty smoky so its best to refrain from wearing your finest clothes.

Seoul Kal-Bi BBQ, 1610 El Camino Real (on the east side), San Bruno CA 94066. Telephone: (650) 583-0702

Photo: flickr (Pengrin)

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