One of my favorite meals is Korean BBQ. You go in hungry and come out so very full and smelling like grilled meat. Every single time. Over the years, you learn not to eat Korean bbq before going to a party or a show and to wear easily laundered clothing. You can even go with people who think Korean food is too adventurous because it’s really just grilled meat. And it leaves more tasty side dishes for you to enjoy (like kimchee, pickled bean sprouts, fried seaweed, etc).
Every time I read an article that says you should reduce your consumption of red meat (even though cows are so tasty, except the cute cow that works for Chik-fil-A) and eat more fish and non-animal protein, I think, “Yeah, that makes a lot of sense”. Then we grill a steak or eat Korean bbq and I remember why I can never become a vegetarian. It’s just so good, especially when paired with rice and dipped in sesame oil and salt.
I’ve only eaten at a handful of Korean bbq places in San Diego. If they ever open one in Poway, I may never cook at home again. I’ve had bbq at Korea House, Shozen, and Buga. Korea House used to be the go-to place, I think mainly because we knew what to expect. Shozen is closer, so we don’t have to go all the way down to Convoy. Then we found Buga and I am hard pressed to go anywhere else. I’m always happy there, so why risk being a little less than happy going somewhere else?
But, Saturday night we were going out for bbq. I offered Seoul BBQ or Korea House as an option to T and he picked Korea House. I’ve since heard that Seoul BBQ has declined a bit in their bbq foods, so perhaps it was a good decision to not go. We were also curious to compare Korea House to Buga.
I think the prices are a little cheaper at Korea House, but Buga offers more combination dinners and those are cheaper than Korea House’s combinations. You get soup and a salad at Korea House; you get soup and mixed salad (for the bbq meat) at Buga. Both have good banchan, although the ones at Korea House included some different ones we hadn’t seen before and enjoyed. We ordered bulgogi and a marinated prime rib. The server came out and put all the prime rib on the grill. She would come by periodically to turn the meat and when it was all cooked, she pushed it to the side and put all the bulgogi on the grill. On one hand, I liked not having to tend to the food so I could
shovel it in faster enjoy myself and just eat. On the other hand, I would have liked to cook a little prime rib and a little bulgogi, cooking as we ate so we always had fresh meat and didn’t have to worry about it being overcooked. The bulgogi was good, thinly sliced and well marinated. The prime rib was a little tough… flavorful, but hard to bite in half. I prefer the rib eye at Buga.
It was a good meal, and very efficient since all our food cooked at once. The price was pretty good, too, although we both just drank water. If I had a choice, though, I’d rather go back to Buga and order the rib eye and bulgogi. Although, as T pointed out, as long as you have that sesame oil dipping sauce, it doesn’t really matter all that much because it all ends up tasting good.