Best Korean BBQ Restaurants in Seoul
(Part I-Pork belly & neck)
The Korean BBQ hype is no doubt here to stay, but there is more to the menu than just meat and a tabletop grill. With options like dwaejigalbi (marinated pork ribs), Hanwoo (prime Korean beef), gopchang-gui (beef intestine), the standard BBQ menu has enough variety to keep the pickiest of meat eaters happy. However, despite all the available choices, two cuts of meat are by far the most popular: samgyeopsal (three-layered pork belly) and moksal (pork neck), with samgyeopsal so ubiquitous that BBQ restaurants are often called samgyeopsal restaurants instead. You can have either cut thick or sliced paper thin, but make sure you follow up each with a shot of soju for the authentic Korean experience, especially at one of the 5 best Korean BBQ restaurants in Seoul we found for you.
Yukjeon Sikdang (육전식당)
Best Korean BBQ Restaurants in Seoul
Authentic samgyeopsal spot loved by locals
This restaurant started off humbly as a single store in a little neighborhood near Dongdaemun called Sinseol-dong. It wasn’t long before word spread and they had to open two more stores in the same area just to accommodate demand. They’ve recently branched out to Gangnam too.
At Yukjeon Sikdang, the samgyeopsal and moksal (pork neck) literally melt in your mouth, so tender that you will probably double check with the waiter to make sure they didn’t bring you beef by accident. The samgyeopsal is out of this world but real gem here is the moksal. Be sure to order a serving of low-fat moksal before moving on to the heavier samgyeopsal. If you’re leery of possibly undercooking your meat, don’t worry: the servers will make sure your meat is perfectly cooked and will even cut it into bite-sized pieces for you.
Depending on your preference, you can choose to dip your meat in ssamjang (a mix of soybean paste and chili paste), salt, or galchisokjeot (salted hairtail innards). They also provide basic side dishes here to accentuate your meal. We recommend ordering the myeongi namul (Siberian onion). Use the myeongi namul as a bed for your samgyupsal and then add a pinch of wasabi before wrapping up and popping into your mouth. It might not look the most appealing at first but once you try it there’s no going back! And we all leave a little room for dessert, right? Well, “dessert” in a Korean BBQ is none other than fried rice. It wouldn’t be right to leave the restaurant without helping yourself to some carbs.
Geumdwaeji Sikdang (금돼지식당)
Contemporary samgyeopsal restaurant listed in the Michelin Guide
A short 200-meter walk from Yaksu Station will take you to a three-story building with a white tile exterior. A modern look for a BBQ restaurant, but the menu is as classic as King Sejong himself. Only using domestic premium pork from the top 3% of farms, Geumdwaeji Sikdang was a hit as soon as it opened in 2016 and is known for changing the vibe up on each floor: the first looks like any old BBQ restaurant, the second has a bar, and the third floor is a terrace.
Geumdwaeji Sikdang has a limited menu but you wouldn’t want to try anything other than the bone samgyeopsal and the snowflake moksal anyhow. The bone samgyeopsal is every meat lover’s dream as it comes from the most delicious part of a pig, the ribs. The chewy texture and juicy flavors are to die for! The snowflake moksal is a thick yet tender cut from the neck whose marbling is shaped like snowflakes, hence the name. Since Geumdwaeji only serves the absolutely best cuts of meat, it only makes sense that they have specially trained servers to grill the meat for you over coal briquettes. Coal briquettes are no longer common in BBQ restaurants, but you’ll still find them here since Geumdwaeji Sikdang firmly believes that briquettes impart the best flavor to their meats. And they’re not wrong.
Once your meat is perfectly cooked you can pair it with juicy mushrooms, crunchy green onions, and spicy garlic. Top it off with either salt, ssamjang, soy sauce, or Jeju-style galchisokjeot. Enjoy all this with a rich and deeply flavored kimchijjigae simmered for over two hours. Tastes just like mom’s home cooking so we suggest you try this if you’re feeling even the slightest bit nostalgic.
Oh! And I almost forgot to mention that BTS came here to eat!
A perfect combination of grilled pork and veggies
Not far from Cheongdam Station is a retro-concept pork restaurant called Gilmok. As soon as you walk in you’ll feel as if you’ve gone back in time to the 1970’s or 80’s. With metal drum tables, graffiti on the wall, and celebrity autographs, this place doesn’t miss a beat.
What’s interesting Gilmok’s recommendation that you cook your pork medium-well. You’re probably accustomed to thinking pork needs to be cooked all the way through, but since they source their meat from the very best farms, slightly under cooking it a bit allows the flavorful juices to really shine. Place a little wasabi on top of your charcoal grilled meat or dip it in anchovy paste before wrapping in a sesame leaf and you’ll never think of KBBQ the same way again.
Gilmok also offers a wide variety of vegetables to grill alongside your meat that you won’t find at other BBQ restaurants, like bracken, okra, and mushrooms. The green onions and mushrooms are provided free of charge and others are available for a small price, like grilled yam, best enjoyed with salt and wasabi. And once you’ve had your fill of veggies, be sure to order the fluffy steamed eggs. And why stop there? You still haven’t had the moksal fried rice! You’d better start making room now if you don’t want to miss out. Gilmok doesn’t charge corkage fees so bring along a bottle of wine to enjoy with your samgyupsal.
Hyoja-dong Mokgogi (효자동 목고기)
Specialty items you can only find here
Inside a narrow alley in Jongno is a quaint little barbecue joint. This place insists on using moksal from Jeju pigs and only offers three items to choose from –moksal (por neck), gabrisal (pork cheek) and pork skin. Despite the three menu items, their fame in the KBBQ world is exclusively for their juicy, scrumptious moksal.
The three essentials to properly experiencing Hyoja-dong Mokgogi are moksal, anchovies, and Hallasan soju: moksal because that’s their specialty; the anchovy paste because it’s specially marinated in chili oil; and Hallasan soju that Hyoja-dong uniquely accentuates with a hint of Dutch coffee, the aroma of which complements the soju’s bitter aftertaste. (Hallasan is 21% proof so consider yourself warned!) The Dutch Hallasan is on the hidden menu so you’ll have to remember to ask for it.
Ddangko Chamsut Gui (땅코참숯구이)
Local haunt bustling with the after-work crowd
In Wangsimni, there is a modest BBQ restaurant popular for using cast-iron grills for their high-quality meats, which allows the servers here to help you cook a perfect cut of meat. The intense heat creates a crisp outer coat that traps the juices inside. We highly recommend you try their specialty, moksal for sure. It’s meaty and super juicy! They don’t have as many side dishes as other places but the ones they do have pair nicely with the samgyeopsal and moksal. In fact, you’ll find your chopsticks constantly reaching for more and more of the red bean sprout salad.
They stick to the basics here when it comes to sauces; pick one or pick them all– soy sauce (teriyaki), soybean paste, ssamjang, or salt. Their gochujang stew is worth trying too!
Ddangko Chamsut Gui is open until 3 am so you can even drop by for a late-night snack. Their main store is in Wangsimni but they’re also located in Yeoksam-dong and Nowon.