I know very little about Korean food. Of all the Asian cuisines, I have had the least exposure to Korean. We’ve experimented a bit at a few restaurants in the States, and while traveling. A good friend from my former law firm invited me over for Korean BBQ out in Northern California. But, for the most part, all we know about Korean food is BBQ and kimchi. Which means we ate Korean BBQ in Seoul, Korea, as one of our first meals upon arriving.
While staying at the Courtyard Marriott Seoul, we asked a staff member where we could get some Korean BBQ nearby. She pointed just outside the window of the 15th floor executive lounge. Next to a firehouse there was a 24 hour Korean BBQ place, just across the street.
We ventured across the busy road, and walked in. We were escorted to a table near the window. A guy just in front of us was cutting up huge piles of meat, which made Eric drool a little. We knew we were in the right place.
>>Book a Korean BBQ and Market Tour in Seoul<<
The menu was simple, and in English, so we ordered 1 pork belly, 1 pork rib, and bulgogi, a Korean marinated beef. When asked if we wanted one or two bulgogi, I replied two, while holding up two fingers in the universal sign for peace. She seemed surprised, I was momentarily concerned, but just figured we would go with the flow.
Immediately, food started to arrive. An amazing salad with a spicy sesame sauce, chili sauce, kimchi, a plate of lettuce leaves and two spicy peppers, a small bowl of salt, and fresh garlic. All with a bottle of sochu to wash it down.
Although, I don’t think we met the standards of the Korean BBQ lady, who continuously returned to our table to flip our meat, to cut our meat with giant scissors, to place the lettuce leaves on the grill, to teach us how to wrap our meat inside the lettuce leaves. She did everything but feed us. I am not sure if this is normal behavior when out for Korean BBQ in Seoul, or if she just felt like we were foreigners that needed help figuring things out.
Then, she came and wrapped my fleece around my waist because apparently I was showing too much butt crack in my low waisted jeans. Yeah, that happened. A first indeed.
Ordering Bulgogi at Korean BBQ in Seoul
I did not have long to worry about it, though, because our TWO orders of bulgogi arrived. Bulgogi is a grilled marinated beef, with a little bit of sweetness to it. Bulgogi translates essentially to fire beef, so yeah, I assumed the bulgogi would arrive to grill on our Korean BBQ.
Instead, it came hot pot style, loaded with mushrooms, vegetables, and cellophane noodles to heat up over an open flame. I think perhaps we ate two different meals that night. I assumed that people either go in for Korean BBQ, or bulgogi hotpot. But, instead we ordered them both. It’s no wonder my pants were falling down, under my belly, to the point that I need to cover my butt crack with my fleece.
I left stuffed, no surprise there.
Where to Stay When Visiting Seoul
Our favorite two properties in Seoul, both happen to be Marriott Properties.
The Courtyard by Marriott Times Square, where contemporary rooms start around $150. And, the hotel is conveniently located hear the Times Square shopping center, with loads of dining options (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book now)
JW Marriott Seoul, where luxury rooms start around $200. And, the hotel is located above the main bus station, and a small shopping center. Other activities are a quick cab ride away (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book now)[box]
Heading to Seoul?
Where to Stay in Seoul: Get more hotel recommendations here.
What to do in Seoul: Book a Korean DMZ Tour
Find more South Korea posts here.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.