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Korean BBQ

If you’ve never had Korean food before or are just apprehensive in trying it because you don’t know what to order and/or how to behave, then I’ve got just the thing for you. Korean Barbecue. This is a fun way to introduce yourself and your friends to the awesome cuisine that it is. There are many, many types of Korean food (and restaurants): soups, stews, noodles, fried chicken, pizza, rice bowls, grilled meats, even sushi (well, maki, that is). The list goes on. We’ll take baby steps and concentrate on barbecue. Because it’s so much fun. You’ll love it. I promise.

First things first. This is a group activity. The more people the better, the merrier. Besides, if you live ITP, you’ll need friends to talk to on the long drive over. Because, unfortunately, (almost) all Korean BBQ joints are in Duluth, Suwanee, and Buford Highway. But it will be worth the drive. Trust me. Ready?

Cafe Todahmgol

In a nutshell… Korean barbecue joints use either coal, gas, a combination of both coal and gas, or propane gas canisters for grilling. Tables are outfitted with a hole in the middle — the barbecue pit — and topped with a steel grill to cook the meats on. Other places use table-top domes, heavy cast-iron trays or griddles which are set on an angle so that the grease from meats can drip onto a bowl. When you sit down, you will be given an assortment of banchan — appetizers or accompaniments to your meal. These consist of assorted pickled veggies (kimchi) in small plates, sauces to dip your meat in, and, rice wrappers (large squares of pasta sheets made with rice flour), sheets of radish, and romaine lettuce leaves to wrap your meats in. Your server will then start grilling your meat of choice and some kimchi. Use your chopsticks to take cooked meat from the grill and transfer them to your plate. Dip the meat in the sauces and either eat them as is or wrapped with or without the grilled kimchi. Half-way through your meal, your server will give you a steaming bowl of soup. Dish it out and pass it around. Other places give you a bowl of steamed egg custard soup that’s just absolutely heavenly. At the end of your meal (if you’re in a place that does not use coal), the server will cook fried rice on the grill. Believe me, nothing tastes better than rice cooked in meat drippings.

Almost all of these places have all-you-can-eat meal deals and I highly recommend getting those over anything else especially on your first visit. You’ll get thinly sliced beef brisket and delicious pork belly but there are a la carte cuts that are also available such as short ribs and ribeye. Now that you know what to expect and what to do, let’s go on a field trip. Here are my favorite Korean BBQ places in our city, in no particular order.

Honey Pig
3473 Old Norcross Road
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 476-9292
Honey Pig on Urbanspoon

Honey Pig

Honey Pig

Honey Pig

Honey Pig

Popular among tourists, Honey Pig has a fantastic ambiance and is the only place in town that uses cast-iron domes for their barbecue. I recommend getting the all-you-can-eat meat for $21.99, which is an awesome deal. They use not only good cuts of meat but also good quality in general.

Iron Age
2131 Pleasant Hill Rd
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 334-5242
Iron Age on Urbanspoon

Iron Age

Iron Age

Iron Age

Catering to a younger, hip crowd, Iron Age offers a $14.99 all-you-can-eat deal. Young, good looking male servers dressed in military-style uniforms mill about ready to serve (sorry, no pun intended) patrons who linger around watching music videos of boy and girl bands on the big projector screen while downing bottles upon bottles of Makkoli, a popular Korean milky rice wine. The pork belly here (uncured thick slabs of bacon) come in several flavors: plain, garlic, spicy, and miso. Try them all as they’re all good. One tip, reservations are highly recommended especially for big groups as waits of more than an hour on the weekends are not uncommon.

Star Daepo
Near Mega Mart
3525 Mall Blvd., Ste 3
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 418-9810
Star Daepo on Urbanspoon

Star Daepo (Duluth)

Star Daepo (Duluth)

Star Daepo (Duluth)

Star Daepo (Duluth)

Star Daepo (Duluth)

The newest of the BBQ bunch, Star Daepo has funky furniture. The tables inside are regular Korean BBQ tables. But they’ve got a quirky patio that has been covered and converted into a dining room. Here, they have these cute table bases made of steel trash cans geared for parties of two to four. Beware of the back-less, tiny stools. Do not, I repeat, do not make a mistake of leaning back. I witnessed an older man keel over right in front of me and landed on my feet. But I digress. The cuts of pork here are thicker and the tofu soup that comes with your meal is amazing: really flavorful broth.

Hae Woon Dae
5805 Buford Hwy NE
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 451-7957
Hae Woon Dae on Urbanspoon

Hae Woon Dae

Hae Woon Dae

Hae Woon Dae

Hae Woon Dae is one of Atlanta’s oldest Korean restaurants. My earliest memory of eating at this restaurant was in the mid 90s. There were three of them fierce competitors within a one-mile radius: the now closed Seoul Garden originally located on BuHi, and another favorite place also already closed but whose name escapes me at the moment. In any case, charcoal is used here. The kimchi is pretty stellar. The pork belly has that chewy fat that I love. And, more than anything else, the service rocks.

Han Il Kwan
5458 Buford Hwy NE
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 457-3217
Mon-Sun. 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m
Hanil Kwan on Urbanspoon

Han Il Kwan

Han Il Kwan

Han Il Kwan

Han Il Kwan

Han Il Kwan is one of the few places that uses charcoal for grilling. There’s just something about the taste and smell of charcoal on grilled meats. To use the charcoal grills, your party must order two types of meat from the barbeque part of the menu. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the few places that do not offer all-you-can-eat deals but the meats here have thicker cut and of really good quality. I highly recommend getting the galbi (shortribs) and ribeye. The gyoza, kimchi fried rice, rice cake soup, and short rib soup (all a la carte) are fantastic here.

Seodulnyuk
2790 Lawrenceville Suwanee Rd., Suite 165
Suwanee, GA 30024
(678) 394-5190
Sodeulnyuk on Urbanspoon

Seodulnyuk

Seodulnyuk

Sodulnyuk (Suwanee)

If you want a quieter, more subdued, more family-oriented atmosphere, then head on over to Seodulnyuk. They have meat combo meals starting at $40 that are sure to fit any one’s palate (and budget). These meals are good enough for two to three people. What I like about this place is the big pieces of brisket that they serve. No matter which meats you choose, you will not be disappointed.

So there. Grab a bunch of friends and go! You can thank me later :)

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16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tina // Jan 24, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Wow, what a great list of Korean BBQ restaurants! I haven’t had good authentic Korean food in years. Thanks for the extensive list and reviews! Which restaurant would you recommend for good japchae, bibimbap, kimchi, and kimbop? Thanks!

  • 2 Amber // Jan 24, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Wonderful article, I had no idea all of these Korean BBQ establishments were in ATL. Thanks!

  • 3 Kate // Jan 24, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Hi! Love this list of BBQ restaurants! Big lover of Korean food and have been looking for a list like this. Also curious…love to hear your favorite place for best Korean soups, mandu, and kimbob. Also, is there a traditional Korean stir fry rice on tables place in Atlanta? Not sure where to go!! Anyone is free to respond. Love to hear more input.

  • 4 Julia // Jan 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Great article! I love hearing that korean food is gaining popularity among non-koreans. Finally!

    For kimbap, I would say that Danmooji in the NuKoa plaza would be best but the ones sold at the “Snack” stand at Pleasant Hill H-Mart are quite good too. For soups, it’s hard to pick a place w/o specifying a specific soup first. Lastly, as far as I know, there isn’t a korean stir fry rice place … other than honeypig where they cook it for you after you’re done w/ your meats.

  • 5 Nathan // Jan 25, 2011 at 12:09 am

    What, no Cafe Todahmgol? Out of curiosity, why did you leave it off the list. In an earlier post, you said it was your favorite korean bbq joint.

  • 6 Chloe // Jan 25, 2011 at 10:31 am

    @Tina: There are so many good authentic Korean restaurants. You’ll just have to venture out to Duluth, Suwanee, and Buford Highway.

    @Amber: Thanks. I’ve reviewed over 40 Korean restaurants. This is not an exhaustive list. I had to trim it down so much!

    @Kate: As I’ve told Amber, I’ve reviewed 40+ places. I have 6 more I haven’t written. You might want to go to my archives and just browse through. There are so many kinds of soups and for each kind, I have my favorites. For yukgaejang, no one tops Toh Dam Tofu in Suwanee. I also like So Kong Dong’s tofu soups. I like the galbi tang at Han Il Kwan. For mandoo, go to Jang Su Jang. Kimbob is so hard to mess up so just about everyone that serves them is okay. There isn’t any Korean stir fry rice place — Mongolian barbecues do that.

    @Julia: Thanks! I like Dan Moo Ji for their chicken wings. The wing sauce is crazy good!!! And let’s not forget their amazing duk bokki. And, you’re right– no Korean stir fry rice plate.

    @Nathan: I can tell you are a regular reader! Thanks so much. The main reason I did not include Cafe Todahmgol, albeit it is my favorite, is because the article is for newcomers to Korean bbq. Cafe T has no English menu and the menu is hard to navigate. The servers are also not that well versed with English. Unless you’re familiar with Korean cuisine, you won’t know how or what to order there.

  • 7 Atlanta Jobs // Jan 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    The Korean BBQ place by my apt was closed down and we now have a Mongolian BBQ. I am soo missing it and this post is making me wish it was back. Korean BBQ was perfect for cold days, especially the soup. I didn’t realize how many of them you actually had in Atlanta. Must be perfect for the snow you guys have had. Honey Pig looks awesome and I love the tables at Star Daepo. Great post!

  • 8 kate // Jan 27, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Thanks Chloe! I am just about to go through your archives. I meant to say I was looking for a place with great tofu soups so can’t wait to try So Kong Dong. As far as stir fry rice…meant to say…Kimchi Bokkeumbap(kimchi fried rice). I’m a big lover of Korean food but I’m from the West Coast and I think people generally are more familiar with the cuisine. Ahh..forgot about Duk Bokki…yummm…been so long. Thanks for doing all the legwork! Cafe Todahmgol is excellent…try it..it’s an adventure…well not for me since I read Korean..but gooo anyways..your stomach will thank you. ; )

  • 9 Chloe // Jan 27, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Hey Kate! I looooove kimchi fried rice. I like Dan Moo Ji’s and Hae Woon Dae’s smoky version. And Cafe Todahmgol has been a favorite of mine. Went there when it first opened a little over 2 years ago. It’s so underrated because the menu isn’t in English. Incidentally… I wish I could read Korean :)

  • 10 FoodieBuddha // Jan 30, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    should we just start a blog called ChowDownBuddha??? get it … HA!!!

  • 11 Banchan: Heart-shaped Strawberry Box Edition | ZenKimchi Korean Food Journal // Feb 5, 2011 at 2:04 am

    [...] Chowdown Atlanta has a guide for Korean BBQ [...]

  • 12 Janese // May 26, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Great post! I just got back from vacation in Los Angeles and ate at the Japanese BBQ restaurant Gyu-Kaku in Hollywood. It was awesome. Now that I am back home I have been on the search for a restaurant similar to it. You gave some great information and have me ready eat! Thanks!

  • 13 ThaRealNuMoney // Feb 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    @janes!!! omg I am from cali too and I love GYU-KAKU!!! I USE TO EAT THERE EVERY WEEK!! THE BEST GARLIC NOODLES EVER!! OH AND BIMBOP RICE!! i think thats how u spell it lol, but the Korean BBQ spots in KTown in LA are Bomb! Wilshire Ave

  • 14 ThaRealNuMoney // Feb 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    @janese lol sorry typo

  • 15 Patty // Jul 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    I just got back from Vancouver, BC. We went to a terrific Korean BBQ place with the grill in the middle of the table. The servers didn’t cook the meat. The customers did. It was great fun!

    Are there any Korean BBQ places in Atlanta that allow the customers to grill their own meats?

    Thanks! Patty P

  • 16 Chloe // Jul 23, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    @Patty – most BBQ places (out of good service) will almost always “help out” in cooking your meats. If you commandeer the cooking from the get go, they pretty much leave you alone. I have reviewed almost all the Korean BBQ places in the city. Just go to the Categories on the right of my site and scroll down to Korean BBQ. Incidentally, Cho Won in Duluth is an all-you-can-eat BBQ where everything you eat is served on a buffet line. Most times, you have to cook your own meats.

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