926 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
This is a relatively new Korean BBQ/ Hot Pot place in the center of Chinatown. It is AYCE / BYOB (a scary combination.) Hot pot is $23, BBQ is $28 and for the tru glutton, you can have both for a reasonable $33 – Not that the word “reasonable” would apply to anyone who would choose both. Kids eat for far less.
I went on a Wednesday night with my 25-year-old son (who also has a hearty appetite.) It was pretty busy, and I’d suggest reservations on a weekend.
The greeting staff were friendly, and fluent English-speakers (as opposed to the WAITstaff who were neither.) The dining areas is multi-level, with EXTREMELY slipper floors – seriously, you could easily slip in this place… so be forewarned.
The meal begins with Banchan – something on which to nosh while your first order of grillables arrives. Kimchee, salted peanuts, steamed edamame and spicy greens which I believe were watercress namul.
If you are here for the first time, you will PROBABLY never be told about the sauce / condiment bar on the lower level (again, be careful about the slippery floor) where you can combine various BBQ sauces, hot oils, sesame paste, peanut puree and others to your tastes.) This is also where you can pick up some sliced jalapenos, scallions and other little accompaniments.)
While this IS “all you can eat”, you are expected to eat all that you order, so be cautious about “trying new things.” Also, it’s best to point at the pictures in the menu, as we were brought some unchewable chicken gizzards in lieu of bulgogi, and corn instead of prawns. The meats and other grillables are fresh, and overall quite delicious (but if you are fat-averse, this might not be your place for beef and pork. WE had filet, duck breast, pork belly, prawns, short ribs (kalbi) and ended up with some delicious sirloin. Also, we had a wonderfully greasy seafood pancake – similar to a Chinese scallion pancake – thought it did not seem to have any recognizable seafood in its makeup.
The staff will turn on the electric grill, and butter it for the first time (you will be left a nice hunk for subsequent butterings.) They will also exchange the grill surface when it gets gross (which it will.) Aside from that, you are pretty much on your own until it’s time to place another order.) Basically, it’s order, grill, dip in sauce, and eat. Rinse and repeat until you can eat no more.
It was really a fun dinner (probably groups of 2-4 work best, because you have two hours to complete your meal (I doubt they have a stopwatch) and a large group may not be able to get more than two courses considering grilling time.
It’s not a meal you will crave every week, but there is plenty for the adventurous and less-adventurous eater to be a great “special occasion” spot.