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Korean BBQ 101: Who is hungry for Korean BBQ? Posted by on Nov 9, 2016 in Cuisine, Korean Culture, Korean Language, Vocabulary

What is your favorite Korean food? Korean BBQ (barbecue) is one of my family and friends’ favorite Korean foods. If you want an authentic experience of Korean cuisine, I highly recommend you to try Korean BBQ cooked at your tableside. Sizzling sounds of meat cooking at your table, smells of sweet seasoning, and your table filled with side dishes, will make quiet an entertaining experience. Are you ready to find more about mouth-watering Korean BBQ?

What to order?

Although there are several choices of meat platters, these three  갈비 (Galbi), 불고기 (Bulgogi), and 삼겹살 (Samgyupsal), are the signature dishes on the menu: the most loved Korean BBQ by both Koreans and foreigners.

  • 갈비 (Galbi) is tender beef or pork short ribs with thin cuts of meat marinated in a soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and other seasonings. I believe many Koreans would consider 갈비 (Galbi) as the leader of Korean BBQ dish.
  • 불고기 (Bulgogi) is thinly sliced beef or pork marinated in a sauce similar to 갈비 (Galbi) sauce. Sweet and savory 불고기 (Bulgogi) juice will be a delicious addition to your rice.
  • 삼겹살 (Samgyupsal) is pork belly slices like Bacon in America. This appetizing dish is well consumed by people both at restaurants and at homes because it is cheaper than other meat dishes.


Once you decide on your choice of meat platter, your server will prepare your meat at the table and continuously cook and flip to perfection. Unlike the American way, your server will use kitchen 가위  (scissors) to cut your meat into bite sizes: It is typical that your Korean food will be cut with 가위  (scissors), not with a knife.

How to enjoy your BBQ?

Besides your 고기 (meat) dish cooking on the grill at your tableside, you will have a bowl of (rice) and an assortment of delicious 반찬 (sides dishes) that come along with your order. These are 반찬 (sides dishes) that will be often served to you: 김치 (Kimchi), 쌈장 (special sauce prepared for your meat), 숙주나물 (bean sprout), 오뎅 (fish cake), 파무침 (green onion salad), 감자 (potato). By the time you try all these foods, you will never go home hungry.

When the meat is cooked to perfection, either you can dig in or you can make 상추쌈 (lettuce wrap) with  고기 (meat), (rice), 파무침 (green onion salad), and 쌈장 (special sauce prepared for your meat) as most Koreans enjoy their BBQ. The following picture is an example of basic 상추쌈 (lettuce wrap), however you are welcome to add your choice of other 반찬 (sides dishes) in your 상추쌈 (lettuce wrap). Wrap everything up and pop it in your mouth to enjoy.

This is an important tip that is coming from my friends who were not familiar with Korean style 상추쌈 (lettuce wrap). If you want your first attempt of  상추쌈 (lettuce wrap) to be enjoyable, please do not over stuff it. Make it big enough for ONE BITE size to avoid feeling embarrassed while you finish your first trial: it is hard to bite off your 상추쌈 (lettuce wrap) and often gets messy. As long as you remember this tip, you will be able to enjoy your mouthful of delicious Korean food.

It varies depending on restaurants, if your server offers you traditional Korean drinks after your meal, don’t forget to try them as well. You might be served with a sweet cold drink filled with cinnamon scent,수정과 (Cinnamon punch), or refreshing sweet rice beverage,식혜 (Rice Punch).

Before you leave the restaurant, don’t forget to say 감사합니다! (Thank you!) to show your appreciation.

What is your favorite Korean BBQ dish? I would love to hear about it!

감사합니다! (Thank you!) 

*** Related Vocabulary ***

  1. 갈비 (Galbi)
  2. 불고기 (Bulgogi)
  3. 삼겹살 (Samgyupsal)
  4. 가위 (scissors)
  5.   (rice)
  6. 반찬  (sides dishes)
  7. 김치 (Kimchi)
  8. 쌈장 (special sauce prepared for your meat)
  9. 숙주나물 (bean sprout)
  10. 오뎅 (fish cake)
  11. 파무침 (green onion salad)
  12. 감자 (potato).
  13. 고기 (meat)
  14. 수정과 (Cinnamon punch),
  15. 식혜 (Rice Punch)
  16. 감사합니다! (Thank you!)


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About the Author: Kyung-Hwa

안녕하세요? My name is Kyung-Hwa, and I am a native of South Korea. I am accustomed to both English and Korean languages and cultures. I greatly appreciate and love both of them. I am passionate about learning different languages, and I have studied English, Japanese, and Spanish. In my spare time, I take joy in singing, playing the piano, and reading books. I also enjoy traveling around the world, meeting people, and embracing new cultures and languages...


  1. Cathy:

    Love this! Whenever we go out and eat Korean food, we never knew what some of the side dishes are….just realized what my daughter favorite side dish is fish cake. Love how you have the pictures of all the food.

    • Kyung-Hwa:

      @Cathy Thank you,
      I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed my article!
      Most restaurants will replenish any of your favorite side dishes for free, so ask for second round of fish cake next time. I am hungry for Korean BBQ now ^^

  2. Helen Gynell:

    I wish you had the Korean word phonetically next to the hangul. Since I can’t speak Korean, it’s just symbols next to an English word. Know what I mean? I need to see how to say the word . . . please?

    • Kyung-Hwa:

      @Helen Gynell Hello,

      Thank you very much for your comment.
      In order to help with your Korean studying, I added an audio track to this article. I hope this will help you to learn how to say each word.

      FYI, please click on the follwoing link to study Korean alphabets.

      Good luck learning Korean!
      Thank you.