The banchan selections and thinly sliced beef cooking on the grill at To Bang.  Jeff Cianci
The banchan selections and thinly sliced beef cooking on the grill at To Bang.  (Jeff Cianci)

Bay Area Bites Guide to 5 Can't-Miss South Bay Korean Barbecue Restaurants

Bay Area Bites Guide to 5 Can't-Miss South Bay Korean Barbecue Restaurants

Mom said not to play with your food, unless, of course, you’re grilling your own dinner tableside. Korean barbecue is best enjoyed among a group of friends who can help you partake in the gluttonous portions of meat, bottles of cold beer or soju, and delicious side dishes, or banchan. In the South Bay Area, Santa Clara is home to a number of fantastic Korean barbecue restaurants often tucked away in neighborhood shopping centers. Here are five can’t-miss restaurants for Korean barbecue in the South Bay Area. If we missed your favorite please be sure to share it in the comments.

Gooyi Gooyi

The banchan selections at Gooyi Gooyi.
The banchan selections at Gooyi Gooyi. (Jeff Cianci)

Gooyi Gooyi shares a small Santa Clara shopping mall with two adult book stores and Bobby’s Liquor (a mecca for craft beer and small batch spirit enthusiasts), but the small restaurant is a can’t-miss for fans of Korean barbecue. Popular selections here include buttery tender pieces of boneless prime short rib, salt and pepper marinated cubes of short rib, and marinated beef bulgogi which develops a heavenly sweet flavor as it caramelizes on the hot griddle. To wash it all down be sure to order the housemade lemon soju. Gooyi Gooyi stays open until 2am, making it a popular destination to feast on barbecue and drink soju late into the night.

Boneless pieces of short rib marinated in salt and pepper cooking on the griddle at Gooyi Gooyi.
Boneless pieces of short rib marinated in salt and pepper cooking on the griddle at Gooyi Gooyi. (Jeff Cianci)
A server cooks boneless prime short rib at Gooyi Gooyi.
A server cooks boneless prime short rib at Gooyi Gooyi. (Jeff Cianci)
Kimchi fried rice at Gooyi Gooyi
Kimchi fried rice at Gooyi Gooyi (Jeff Cianci)
Marinated beef bulgogi at Gooyi Gooyi.
Marinated beef bulgogi at Gooyi Gooyi. (Jeff Cianci)
Diners inside Gooyi Gooyi in Santa Clara.
Diners inside Gooyi Gooyi in Santa Clara. (Jeff Cianci)

Gooyi Gooyi
2331 El Camino Real. [map]
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Ph: (408) 615-9292
Hours: Mon-Sat 5pm-2am; Sun 5pm-12am
Facebook: Goo Yi Goo Yi
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees more than $25)

Chungdam

The banchan selections at Chungdam.
The banchan selections at Chungdam. (Jeff Cianci)

Chungdam serves Korean barbecue in a modern and sophisticated environment, making it a popular destination for celebrations. The non-marinated boneless short rib as well as the marinated boneless short rib is a great option for first time visitors. The non-marinated short rib pieces practically melt in your mouth and are great to enjoy the natural flavor of the high quality meat at Chungdam. The marinated pieces become deliciously sweet and sticky as they cook over the hot grill. A glass of cold, crisp Cass Fresh beer is the perfect companion for the sweet and spicy pork bulgogi.

Slices of boneless short rib cooking on the grill at Chungdam.
Slices of boneless short rib cooking on the grill at Chungdam. (Jeff Cianci)
Slices of boneless short rib cooking on the grill at Chungdam.
Slices of boneless short rib cooking on the grill at Chungdam. (Jeff Cianci)
Marinated beef short rib on on the grill at Chungdam.
Marinated beef short rib on on the grill at Chungdam. (Jeff Cianci)
Spicy pork bulgogi at Chungdam.
Spicy pork bulgogi at Chungdam. (Jeff Cianci)
The interior of Chungdam in Santa Clara.
The interior of Chungdam in Santa Clara. (Jeff Cianci)

Chungdam
3180 El Camino Real [map]
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Ph: (408) 246-1208
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-2:30pm, 5-9:30pm
Facebook: Chungdam
Twitter: @ChungdamSV
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees more than $25)

Han Sung Charcoal Barbecue

Short ribs cooking on the charcoal grill at Han Sung.
Short ribs cooking on the charcoal grill at Han Sung. (Jeff Cianci)

A sweet smoke lightly lingers in the dining room at Han Sung as hot charcoal grills cook tableside. The use of the charcoal grill gives this Korean barbecue restaurant a unique flair and adds a touch of smoky flavor to the grilled meats. The thinly sliced beef bulgogi has the perfect touch of sweetness, the charcoal smoke giving the meat an extra touch of savory flavor. The spicy pork bulgogi is prepared in the kitchen but arrives at your table piping hot with sweet, charred tips.

A server cooks short ribs on the charcoal grill at Han Sung.
A server cooks short ribs on the charcoal grill at Han Sung. (Jeff Cianci)
Spicy pork bulgogi at Han Sung.
Spicy pork bulgogi at Han Sung. (Jeff Cianci)
Diners inside Han Sung in Santa Clara.
Diners inside Han Sung in Santa Clara. (Jeff Cianci)

Han Sung Charcoal Barbecue
2644 El Camino Real [map]
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Ph: (408) 246-7799
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:30am-12am; Sun 10:30am-9pm
Facebook: Han Sung BBQ
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees more than $25)

Jang Su Jang

The banchan selections at Jang Su Jang.
The banchan selections at Jang Su Jang. (Jeff Cianci)

Jang Su Jang is regularly recognized by both the Michelin Guide and Zagat for their refined Korean barbecue. Two locations in Santa Clara and Milpitas are wildly popular, so be prepared for a decent wait to get your table. Attentive servers prepare your barbecue at your table and keep your banchan well stocked. The marinated short ribs have a light marinade and are buttery tender, while the pork belly is best when left of the griddle to crisp around the edges.

Marinated short rib and beef bulgogi cooking on the grill at Jang Su Jang.
Marinated short rib and beef bulgogi cooking on the grill at Jang Su Jang. (Jeff Cianci)
Pork belly cooking on the grill at Jang Su Jang.
Pork belly cooking on the grill at Jang Su Jang. (Jeff Cianci)
Inside Jang Su Jang in Santa Clara.
Inside Jang Su Jang in Santa Clara. (Jeff Cianci)

Jang Su Jang
3561 El Camino Real #10 [map]
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Ph: (408) 246-1212
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-9:30pm
Facebook: Jang Su Jang
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees more than $25)

To Bang

The banchan selections and thinly sliced beef cooking on the grill at To Bang.
The banchan selections and thinly sliced beef cooking on the grill at To Bang. (Jeff Cianci)

Tucked away in a neighborhood shopping center in Santa Clara, To Bang serves Korean barbecue in gluttonous portions with their popular family style combination dinners. With the combination dinner, guests can enjoy a full spread of thinly sliced beef, pork belly, kimchi stew, seafood pancake, steamed eggs, as well as all-you-can-eat banchan. Dinner combinations also include the option to add beer or soju for the table. To Bang was recently featured on this season of “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Cooked thinly sliced beef and pork belly.
Cooked thinly sliced beef and pork belly. (Jeff Cianci)
Diners inside To Bang in Santa Clara.
Diners inside To Bang in Santa Clara. (Jeff Cianci)

To Bang
1052 Kiely Blvd. [map]
Santa Clara, CA 95051
Ph: (408) 615-7540
Hours: Mon-Fri 5:30-11pm; Sat-Sun 4:30-11pm
Facebook: ToBang
Price Range: $$$ (Entrees more than $25)

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