Korean BBQ Guide
A Korean restaurant that specializes in barbecue is called a 고기집 which literally means 'meathouse'. Here is a guide to some of the most popular meat cuts. Many places do offer menus in both Korean and English, but there are also many that don't, so to help you we have put together a list of popular pork and beef cuts that may come in handy when ordering Korean BBQ in Seoul!
Let's begin with some of the popular pork cuts:
The king of pork cuts is Samgyeopsal, pork belly. This is by far the most popular pork cut and considered the quientessential Korean BBQ. There are three different types:
- 삼 겹살 - Samgyeopsal - three layered pork belly
- 오겹살 - Ogyepsal - five layered pork belly
- 생구이 - Saenggui - fresh grilled pork belly
Depending on the place, these three cuts are essentially the same as they are all pork belly cuts. The main difference is that Ogyepsal and Saenggui include the pig skin, hence the extra layers. We recommend Samgyepsal, but if they only serve the others do no hesitate to try. The layers are created from tiers of fat and the taste is rich.
목살 - Moksal: Neck meat or pork chop. Moksal is beautifully marbled, tastes great grilled and has a deep flavor. It typically comes in normal pork chop size and is then cut in into bite size pieces with a scissor as it is grilled.
갈 매기살 - Kalmaegisal: Thin strips of skirtmeat. A great alternative to the fattier Samgyepsal. Although Kalmaegisal is leaner it is still juicy and has great flavor. Some people say it tastes less porky than Samgyepsal.
한정살 - Hanjeongsal: Thin meat strips from front park of neck and 가브리살 - Kabrisal, thin meat strips from front part of the pork loin are both detailed cuts and very few portions come from one pig. Both of these cuts a texturally quite different from other pork cuts. One could almost say it is chewy. What is special about these cuts is that they have even marbling, making the meat very tender and juicy. Kabrisal is our favorite pork cut by the way.
돼지갈비 - Daejikalbi: Pork rib meat. Unlike beef rib meat, pork rib meat is mostly marinated before grilling. It is also braised. Tastes wonderful and a popular choice.
양념 - Yangnyeom: Marinated pork. Many meat houses offer their cuts in a marinated version. If you like marinated meat ask if your favorite cut comes in a Yangnyeom version. The marinade is typically a sweet and spicy marinade.
돼 지껍데기 - Daeji-kkeobdegi: Pork rinds. Said to be high in collagen and therefore good for your skin. This is a popular choice among women. Unlike western style pork rinds. Seoulites don't eat their rinds very crispy but only grill them until slightly crispy and still chewy. Not everyone's cup of tea, but worth a try as it is inexpensive. It also comes in a marinated version. We like it.
불고기 - Bulgogi: Very thin strips of grilled or stir-fried marinated pork - daejibulgogi, or beef - sobulgogi. This is probably one of the most well know korean foods at all along with Kimchi. If you order it you will know why. Great savory-sweet flavor which comes from the soy-sugar-asian pear marinade.
These two beef cuts have same name as their pork siblings. 갈비 - Kalbi, rib meat and 불고기, Bulgogi, very thin strips of grilled or stir-fried marinated beef. Beef kalbi is usually not marinated and beef bulgogi is often served with mushrooms and grilled together. Just as pork kalbi, beef kalbi is served on the rib bone and the meat is cut into bite size pieces as it is grilled.
- 등심 - Deungsim: Sirloin
- 안등심 - Andeungsi: Inner part of tenderloin
- 꽃등심 - Kkotdeungsim: Flower marbled sirloin
All three cuts are tender, juicy and have great marbling - especially Kkotdeungsim is famous for its flower like marbling. Among the three, Andeungsim is the leanest of the cuts. All tend to be pricier than other beef cuts. But worth it! If you are lucky enough to be eating Korean Hanwoo beef Kkotdeungsim, it is comparable to Wagyu beef in its marbling...and price.
차돌바기 - Chadolbagi, ultra thinly sliced marbled brisket, is known for its heavy marbling and is usually sliced very thinly for grilling to not get an overpowering "fatty" taste. Chadolbagi is a great way to enjoy the marbled beef flavor without paying a premium price. Just remember it cooks fast, so keep an eye on the meat when grilling.
갈비살 - Kalbisal, thin strips of rib meat. This is perhaps the most popular beef cut around. Kalbisal is inexpensive, marbled and has a rich beef flavor.