If you’re new to Korean BBQ, you probably have a lot of questions. Korean BBQ restaurants are much different than your traditional American eateries. But the question people always ask first is, how much does it cost?
The average price for Korean BBQ ranges from $15-$40. The city that you’re in and the quality of the ingredients used by the restaurant will play a significant role in the final cost of your meal. Most Korean restaurants also offer an all-you-can-eat (AYCE) option that is cheaper than the main menu.
Korean BBQ joints are nothing like traditional restaurants. In this article, I’ll walk you through the basics of Korean BBQ including prices, menu, and dress code. I’ll also explain exactly how Korean BBQ works, so you’ll know what to expect.
Related: Best Korean BBQ in Las Vegas
How much Korean BBQ Costs per Person
Every Korean barbecue restaurant sets its own prices, but you can expect to pay between $15-$40 per person. Typically, cities like Las Vegas, New York, and Los Angeles are going to be more expensive, while smaller cities will be cheaper. As a rule of thumb, $25 is the average price for Korean BBQ.
Most Korean restaurants offer BBQ in an AYCE (all-you-can-eat) format. This means that you can continue to order more food at no additional cost until you hit your time limit (I’ll talk about some of the AYCE rules in the next section).
Not all Korean restaurants offer AYCE specials. Instead, they have customers order individual menu items (a la carte). These restaurants are typically more expensive since they often use higher-quality meats. You can pay anywhere from $20 to over $100 on a meal at one of these Korean restaurants.
There are a couple of universal all-you-can-eat rules that you’ll find at most Korean restaurants. Here are the most common AYCE rules:
- Everyone in your party must order the same menu
- Everyone at the table has to pay even if they don’t eat
- There is a 1.5 hour to 2 hour time limit
- Leftover food is charged
- Takeout is not allowed
- Some menu items may have limits
Most restaurants require everyone at the table to order the same menu options (so one person can’t order AYCE and pass food to others). And since there is no way to track who is eating what, everyone at the table must pay, even if they are not eating.
AYCE specials typically have a 90-minute or 2-hour time limit where you can order whatever you want. But it isn’t recommended that you order more food than you plan on eating, since you may get charged for leftovers. You also can’t take leftovers home.
While you can order as much food as you want, it’s not uncommon for some of the more expensive menu items to be limited to one per person.
Additionally, some restaurants also charge an extra service fee for larger groups. A few restaurants also don’t allow solo diners. The no solo customers rule seems a bit unfair, but restaurants implement it because they only have a limited number of BBQ tables.
What is Korean BBQ?
Korean BBQ consists of cooking your own meats on a grill in the center of your table. The server will bring out rounds of raw meats and side dishes, and you can cook them at your own pace.
Most meats are generally pretty thin, so they cook fast (1-2 minutes). Some restaurants also offer high-quality meats on their menu that can be thicker and take longer to cook.
Many high-end Korean restaurants will give you the option of cooking yourself or allowing a server to cook for you. The decision is up to you, but most people cook their food themselves.
What are some typical items on the menu?
Korean restaurants can offer any type of meat, but the most common ones are beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. I’ll list some common menu items below:
- Beef brisket
- Beef belly
- Beef tongue
- Kobe beef
- Beef bulgogi
- Ribeye steak
- Marinated short ribs
- Kalbi (ribs)
- Pork belly
- Jidori chicken
- Chicken karaage (Korean fried chicken)
- Cajun chicken
Some common side dishes (called banchan) include:
- Steamed egg
- Kimchi (traditional vegetable side dish)
- Corn cheese
It isn’t uncommon to see Korean BBQ restaurants offer sushi, tofu, and soups on their menu as well. If you want a more in-depth look at a Korean BBQ menu, check out the menu at Kogi Korean BBQ in Las Vegas.
What to Wear to Korean BBQ
What you can wear varies depending on the restaurant, but most Korean BBQ places are casual. Traditional Korean restaurants that require formal attire are rare, but they’re out there. For these restaurants, you’ll want to wear business casual clothing.
A nice pair of jeans and a bottom-up shirt is usually good enough for men. Women can typically wear anything that looks dressy and elegant.
Is Korean BBQ Healthy?
Korean BBQ is generally considered healthy if you stick with lean meats. Since you’re cooking your own food on the grill, you’re able to control most of the ingredients used. You can easily avoid using too much fatty oil in the cooking process.
The one caveat is all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. If you eat at one of these restaurants, you’ll need to be extra vigilant to keep the portion control in check.