How to Eat Korean BBQ for Beginners - Eat like a pro!
If you are a foodie, you might have heard of Korean BBQ before. Uniquely different from other Asian food, Korean food has its own distinct culture and you can’t discuss Korean food without mentioning Korean BBQ of course. So before your first experience with this wonderful, special food, here are a few tips for beginners on how to best enjoy Korean BBQ - let’s get started!
Tip 1: Take a Shot
Soju is a very famous Korean alcohol made with rice. It is very similar to Japanese Sake, but with a stronger alcohol taste that sets it apart. Koreans often joke that Soju is cheaper than water and enjoying this beverage is typically always a part of enjoying a BBQ dinner. So before digging in to your Korean feast, grab your friend, pour each other shots, and toast - and you’ll start to feel like your on your way to becoming Korean.
Tip 2: Wrap Your Meat
Upon being seated at your table, the restaurant will normally serve you a hand towel or tissue to clean your hands so you don’t have to be shy about eating your BBQ in the usual fashion. Your meat will be accompanied by plain salad leaves and a variety of pickled sides. The salad leaves are for wrapping the meat and side dishes together like tacos. Having lots of pickled sides (known as banchan) is the traditional Korean way of eating food and always includes Kimchi - the most famous Korean dish - made of fermented, pickled cabbage. You will also be served a number of other pickled or sautéed vegetables so get creative - mix the pickles and veggies with your meat in a lettuce wrap and dip in to the sauce of your choice.
Tip 3: Soup It Up
Koreans enjoy soup with many of their meals. Jjige is a traditional soup served in a hot pot and - unlike most western cuisine - Koreans love to have soup on the side of most of their dishes and is definitely a must with BBQ. Along with your meats, pickles and veggies, you will probably be offered Kimchi Jjige (Kimchi soup), which is spicy or Doen Jing Jjige (Korean Miso soup) which is very mild. Enjoy the soup with your BBQ or mix it up with rice...but don’t miss out!
Tip 4: Relax, Love, Eat Korean BBQ, Repeat
Jeong is the Korean word for “warm hearts” and that is exactly how Koreans eat, enjoy and share their meals. Not only is Korean food about divine taste, it is all about sharing with the friends and family you love. So don’t be shy, share the sides with the same chopsticks, make each other a salad wrap, pour another shot of Soju and have fun!
Tip 5: Forget the Rules
If this all seems a bit complicated, then forget everything you just read and ENJOY! There is no “right” way to eat this delicious meal and after a few shots of Soju, you will probably be too tipsy to remember any of this any way! Just do what makes you happy, what warms your heart and fills up your belly. The only thing you need to remember is to enjoy your food, the people you are with and the unique experience that Korean BBQ is. See you around the hot pot!
Tips : Wear comfortable clothes. Clothes that stretch. Clothes that are forgiving so you can eat to your heart’s desire and not worry about that food belly showing too much! Also, don’t wear white. Korean BBQ is something to be played with which means you’re likely to get food stains. You have been warned.