My girlfriend and I have become quite fond of Korean BBQ over the past few years. We live in the southern NJ and DE area and are always exploring.
I've been making kalbi at home for a couple years now, and while it comes out VERY tasty, there's something about it that just doesn't come out restaurant quality. I've been paying closer attention when I'm at authentic restaurants. Normally, I have them cook my kalbi in the kitchen to ensure it doesn't get botched at the table grill. Many places won't do it at the table for just 1 order, and let's be honest, the stuff is pricey.
So, the first thing I've noticed is that the short ribs, usually English cut (not LA Kalbi, or cross-cut), come out with some sort of decently thick glaze. I can't tell if this is just leftover marinade or if they are applying something during cooking. It could just be fat or grease seeping out.
Next, there are no signs of a marinade. I don't see specs of garlic, Asian pear, onion, or any of the other ingredients all of the recipes say to use. So, either they are rinsing or wiping it all off very well, or my taste is tricking me into thinking it is marinaded well. It could be they only just use wet ingredients? At Heebeen buffet, I noticed they have sesame oil mixed with white sugar in a big pot as if you're supposed to take a scoop or cup back to your table to cook with.
Finally, the cooking. Unfortunately, I may never be able to simulate this at home. I have a gas grill or electric burners. I've also tried a trusty butane burner. What's the secret to perfectly cooking without burning?
Curious to hear what recipes and techniques any of you use. I've been using these recipes and somewhat adapted my own changes:
For reference and for your info, here are some of our favorite Korean BBQ destinations that I've been comparing to:
Korean Barbecue & Sushi Bar | Newark, DE - They have a "spicy kalbi" which has a very slight kick to it. It seems like this has a thick marinade or glaze on it. It somewhat resembles soybean paste but not quite hot pepper paste. I'd love to know what they use.
So Moon Nan Jip | Palisades Park, NJ - Finally went to some area NYC places that aren't in Manhattan. This place might have the best kalbi I've ever had. Most flavorful of them all, and so so tender.
BBQ Village | Flushing, NY - Another AYCE buffet. These ones are "LA" style, so you have more bones to deal with.
Beawon | Cherry Hill, NJ - I find this place's kalbi to be very simple but very good.
Mandu | Washington, DE - Went there randomly while in DC and was very surprised how good their kalbi was.
Heebeen Restaurant | Alexandria, VA - It's Kalbi and Korean food AYCE buffet! Delicious.