331-1 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu
HOURS: Daily 4 p.m.-4 a.m.
COST: Entrées ₩10,000-25,000
SUBWAY: Hongik University (Line 2)
Proof that all Korean barbecue joints are not created equal, Hongik Sutbul Kalbi is probably the only one of the dozens of meat restaurants in this district that is swarmed on a nightly basis.
It has amassed a legendary reputation due to the owner’s keen eye for quality—he’s a butcher by trade—and for offering a variety of types and cuts of meat for very reasonable prices.
All the meat served is fresh, not frozen, and grilled over red-hot coals at the table. Orders also come with a generous spread of side dishes and “bottomless” pots of doenjang jjigae (a spicy bean paste stew).
It’s extraordinarily good value, but don’t expect much in the way of sophistication here—it’s loud and crowded, and a downright bizarre gallery of cartoon characters painted on the walls is the only attempt at decoration.
Service can also be spotty, but that’s forgivable given the sheer volume of customers staff are usually dealing with.