S and I LOVE Korean BBQ – in San Diego, there are several all-you-can-eat KBBQ restaurants, our favorite being Manna. However, we’ve been wanting to try non AYCE, since the meat quality is supposed to be better, and we don’t like to stuff ourselves silly anymore. One weekend, we invited our friend along to try out Dae Jang Keum, which is a highly rated “a la carte” KBBQ restaurant.
We were seated promptly, and the first thing I noticed was that the grill is different from Manna’s.
It’s actually a charcoal grill instead of propane gas! And depending on the type of meat, they either put a flat pan or a wired rack on top for grilling… I have some pics later.
We were presented with an assortment of side dishes. Normally at AYCE Korean BBQ, I don’t eat too much of them since I try to save more room for meat. But here, I actually took the time to enjoy each of them… haha. I liked most of the banchan, but especially the lotus root and garlic stems! There’s complimentary refill on the banchan, too – we asked for a couple more helpings of the garlic stems and lotus.
Onto the meats! We started out with three meats: thinly-sliced pork belly, beef tongue, and beef rib finger meat (joo mool luck).Remember how I mentioned earlier that they put a pan over the grill? Yup, this is what it looks like. One of the nice things about non-AYCE places is that there’s typically someone to cook the meat for you! I guess they’re worried that customers would mess up the good quality meat, haha. Our server was a really nice Korean lady who cooked everything wonderfully.
The beef tongue was really good – it was quite different from the ones you get at all-you-can-eat, and definitely higher quality. We weren’t as impressed with the pork belly, since it tasted pretty much the same as every other Korean BBQ.
For the rib finger meat, our server swapped out the pan for a wired rack. The rib finger meat was quite delicious – the meat was nicely marbled, tender, and juicy. The menu description says that they’re seasoned with a bit of sesame oil, and I think it was just enough to bring out an extra layer of flavor.
We were so impressed with the joo mool luck that we decided to order one more meat, the ribeye steak. S really wanted this, since the menu picture showed that you get an entire steak.Sadly, the server cut away most of the fat on the ribeye. Alas, I guess not everyone likes eating fat as much as we do, haha. The steak was again really tender and nicely cooked – we all enjoyed it a lot.
Almost forgot to mention that you get two dipping sauces – the one on the left is a sesame oil/sea salt blend, and the one on the right is a yuzu-soy sauce. I like the yuzu-soy sauce more, since its citrusy flavor makes the meat more refreshing. The sesame oil blend is really good with the pork belly, though.
Overall, we had a great meal here. I was quite impressed with the quality of their beef, which stood out far above what you get at all-you-can-eat places. The meal ended up being quite pricey since we ordered quite a bit of food, so this would be a special occasion type of Korean BBQ dinner for us, but I’d love to come back in the future, since we were so impressed with what we ate!
Read about Dae Jang Keum on mmm-yoso!
Dae Jang Keum Korean BBQ
7905 Engineer Rd, San Diego, CA 92111
Hours: Daily 11AM-10PM