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 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.
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.
Han Sung Charcoal Barbecue
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.
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
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.
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.”