The sizzle and smoke of the tabletop Korean barbecue is one of the definitive features of the L.A. dining scene. The abundance of well-priced American protein and a rabid following of diners has created a critical mass of restaurants specializing in grilled meats, nearly overshadowing the love of barbecue in the motherland itself. Through the years, barbecue restaurants have segmented into various categories – premium, all-you-can-eat, and middle-ranged a la carte, with each place trumpeting a particular specialty or stand-out side dish. Still other places emphasize the grilling devices and methods, where some employ charcoal for a smokier experience and others rely on special grates for more direct heat.
Barbecue is best enjoyed with a glass of ice cold Hite, a simple Korean lager, or a chilled shot of soju, the national spirit of choice. Think of Korean barbecues almost like more affordable steakhouses, where it's easy to get together with friends and family for a casual lunch or evening to celebrate the variety and quality of great beef, pork, and banchan. It's hard to go wrong with that formula.