My boss very generously treated our department to dinner at Noodle Town. Having seen it many times over the years (located in the same strip mall as Hanmi Bank and Convoy Noodle House), I haven't given it much thought. However, they now have a BBQ patio along with the regular sit-down restaurant, which the server said opened about 4 months ago.
It seems you have to ask to be seated at the patio. In fact, it's not readily obvious that there is one, as the patio's fence is covered with bamboo fencing, blocking the view from the parking lot. It's accessed by a side door behind the cash register that splits off into the patio and the kitchen. The BBQ tables are not for those with weak backs. A round table, about 4 feet in diameter and less than 3 feet high, is ringed with backless stools. In the center of the table is the grill, with little room for the panchan, dipping sauces, bowls of rice, utensils, drinks, etc. Five of us, ranging from 5'3" to 6', hunched around our grill, looking vaguely ridiculous.
The panchan isn't huge. Kimchee, seaweed, pickled daikon/carrots, and marinated onions. The dipping sauces were oil, reddish thick chili sauce, and soy sauce with slices of chilis. My boss also ordered tofu steamed in a cast-iron bowl (excellent) and octopus braised in a spicy broth (a bit too chewy, but very good).
The meat is incredibly good. We started with thick slices of black pork belly (I don't know the breed of pig, but they're black instead of pink), which had tender layers of meat in between the rich layers of fat. Once grilled, the fat was smooth and delicious. On the same plate as the belly were strips off fatty beef. I'm not sure of the cut, but they were long and thin slices with a thick strip of fat in the middle. Like bulgogi, but not marinaded.
Next came slices of beef tongue. Thinly, but not too thinly, sliced, they had a bit of resistance to the bite and were extremely flavorful. I should note that none of the cuts were marinated. At most, there was a tiny drizzle of oil to keep the meat from sticking to the grill. Every dish came with a thick slice of onion, which they used to season the grill before plopping the meat on it.
Thick slices of skirt steak and ribeye came next. Great stuff. Lean cuts, but they didn't toughen up when grilled. We went for seconds of the pork belly and tongue.
Rice is ordered separately, but they're generous bowls that aren't served in the typical metal bowls with the covers. Thank goodness, because there was so little room to put the bowls that you had to hold them to eat the rice. They brought a little side table and piled the meat dishes on there. I don't know if my boss ordered it or if it was automatically included, but there was a small bottle of Korean vodka. It tastes antiseptic (I admit to being a bit of a lightweight) and is an excellent start to an evening of copious meat and chili consumption.
The staff is extremely friendly and helpful. It helps to speak Korean, which none of us did, but we were able to order and ask a few questions with no communication issues. The meal wasn't cheap, but it was a good deal for the fantastic meat, the sides, and the service.
4647 Convoy St Ste 105, San Diego, CA 92111