If you haven't hopped on the Korean BBQ trend by now, this beginner's guide to Korean BBQ is dedicated to you. With a price ranging between $11-$30 (depends on the city & the time of day), you have yourself an All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) session (that's usually restricted to two hours). 

You can personally grill countless plates of meat to your liking and snack on other Korean dishes that fill every inch of the table. We broke down everything from the menu to the cooking in this guide — so be sure to come prepared for a feast and a food coma. 

Banchan (Side Dishes) 

Right when you take a seat, the server places down a bunch of tiny dishes filled with bite-sized portions of food. These free side dishes are called banchan in Korean and are shared at the table. The number of dishes varies per restaurant but typically, there are at least four. Some commonly offered banchan include:

Kimchi: spicy fermented napa cabbage 

Spicy fish cake: fried flat fish cakes speckled with red pepper flakes

Bean sprouts: dressed with a light savory sauce and sesame oil

Radish kimchi: crunchy, spicy, and slightly sweet 

Spicy marinated cucumbers: a refreshing bite with a spicy kick

Seaweed salad: tangy, crisp seaweed to munch on and cleanse your palate

#SpoonTip: Ask for refills of your favorite banchan. They're free!  

On The Menu

1. Meats

KBBQ joints offer an endless list of meats, a majority of which are pork belly and thinly sliced beef and pork in different marinades. There are also items such as intestines and beef tongue for the more adventurous types. Here are the most popular choices that are found on a majority of AYCE menus:

Beef Brisket: thinly sliced & non-marinated 

Samgyupsal (Pork Belly): plain or marinated (spicy, garlic, miso, red wine, etc.)

Bulgogi: thinly sliced beef in a sweet soy marinade

Spicy Pork: thinly sliced pork in a red pepper sauce

Kalbi: slightly sweet marinated beef short ribs

Chicken: chicken thighs in a spicy or garlic marinade 

#SpoonTip: For the bigger cuts of meat (pork belly, kalbi, and chicken), use the provided scissors to cut them into bite sized pieces when they're halfway cooked. Continue to grill until golden brown.

2. Sides

As if the meat and the banchan aren't already enough, there are soups and snacks to go along with your BBQ experience. 

Soondubu Jjigae (Spicy Soft Tofu Soup): filled with various vegetables and big chunks of tofu that melt in your mouth

Dwenjang Jjigae (Soybean Paste Soup): hot and bubbly with onions, zucchini, and tofu

Corn Cheese: mozzarella cheese melted onto corn kernels, creating the perfect gooey, addicting side dish. 

Steamed Egg: steamed and served in an earthenware pot like the soups, the eggs are steaming hot and pillow soft 

Lettuce: make a ssam (lettuce wrap): wrap a piece of meat with some banchan in lettuce and stuff the whole thing in your mouth.

Alcohol: one of the popular picks is flavored soju (mango, lychee, peach, yogurt, kiwi, etc.) 

#SpoonTips for KBBQ:

• Start with non-marinated meats such as brisket or pork belly, then move onto richer tasting marinated meats.

• Request grill changes as needed when the the surface gets too charred from sugary marinades.

• Your hair and clothes are going to smell like BBQ afterwards. Plan accordingly. 

• Bring a large group so that you can try most, if not all the different kinds of meat and soju

Now you can enjoy your lunch or dinner without feeling clueless or intimidated by the menu. There are no rules to Korean BBQ — simply order what sounds good and order lots of it.