1138 Bethel Rd.
Columbus, OH 43220
Probably the most authentic Korean barbecue experience you can get in Ohio is in this little restaurant off Bethel Road on the north side of Columbus. It’s the heavy dark interior, the bright, colorful K-Pop music videos flashing though the city all the time, and of course the many, many ads for soju all over the restaurant. Yes, this place reminds me of dining in Seoul more than many any other I’ve tried yet in this city.
Barbecue like this is a staple food is a staple in Korea and there are so many little shops like that in Seoul. You cook your own, so it’s up to you to do it right! You learn fast. The best strategy to cook some of the meat, use the scissors to cut it into manageable pieces, and wrap it up in lettuce with some of the banchan and sauces on the table in front of you. Some options:
- Spicy Pork: Pork ribs with a spicy marinade, probably best if you’re not familiar with Korean spices, it’s pretty straightforward.
- Bulgogi: The marinated beef classic is one of the favorite slightly spicy kind of meat.
- Short Rib: These huge cuts of pork must be grilled well to be good, but don’t overdo it! Cut them up and serve as lettuce wraps for best results.
- Prawns: Enormous shrimp. Served with butter to let you grill them yourself. Recommend with less sauce, it’s just better simple.
Some of the other things worth trying here:
- Kimchijeon: This kimchi pancake is a common appetizer, and it’s loaded with seafood which is really great.
- Japchae: A glass noodle appetizer with plenty of onions and greens for a little crunch. Bland, but you need that with all the rich food you’re trying.
- Tempura Ice Cream: This is a unique dessert, a mild ice cream with a nice fried shell. The tempura has to be thick but it’s still a little bit much for the mild flavor of the ice cream. Texture is nice, though.
- Soju Cocktail: This unnamed $5 cocktail is advertised all over the place and a wonderful adaptation of Korea’s signature spirit. Light and citrusy.
- Cherry cocktail: Another simple soju-based concoction that lets the effervescent spirit speak for itself.
The restaurant is very Korean in design: tables set around a central heating element to cook. The restaurant service is intentionally limited, because there’s a button at your table that you press for them to come help you with something. Prices are a bit higher, but the menu is heavy on meat so you’re expecting to be eating a lot of it. Heavy but a wonderful kind of night.
Columbus has a lot of international restaurants and grows delightfully more diverse every day. But even amid all the good food to try there are some really specific experiences that offer something more. They make you feel like you’re in another part of the world for a little while. This is one of them.
- Definitely best when you come with a group and expect to share lots of food.
- This is a heavy meal! Come hungry and expect to leave stuffed.
- You can ask for a new grate when yours gets too dirty, which I suggest you do at least once in the meal.