Barbecue is a staple of South Texas cuisine. And when we think of Houston BBQ, we tend to think of brisket, pulled pork, sausage, cornbread, and ranch-style beans.
But there’s another type of BBQ restaurant quickly making a name for itself in Houston. Korean barbecue restaurants are a fun and tasty alternative to traditional south Texas BBQ.
Korean BBQ restaurants bring interactive enjoyment right to your table. Diners grill their meats, seafood, vegetables, and specialty items on a personal hibachi.
And while many of the restaurants are as serene as the winter snow in YongPyong, some are as loud and boisterous as a Seoul nightclub. Who knows? You might be treated to a techno-inspired light show with loud, percussive K-Pop in the background.
In either case, the food is delicious and the experience can be heart-pumping. Who could ask for anything more?
8508 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036
The Sharpstown neighborhood is lucky to have Lucky Palace. Tucked in a strip mall, it’s a full-service Korean restaurant with grill-your-own barbecue options, as well as hot pot items, flavorful soups, and bibimbop.
It’s always nice when a restaurant comes up with a surprising signature dish. Lucky Palace has done so with their cucumber side oi muchim.
I love the pickled, tangy marinade they have concocted to steep the cukes. Make sure you get this.
9446 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055
Due east of the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Houston, where visitors can watch his famous paintings (like Sunflowers) come to life, is Seoul Garden.
Over the past 30 years, the owners have created a full-service Korean menu, including table-top grilling. This includes hot stone bibimbop and bento-like lunch boxes.
I’m a little on the adventurous side. So, on my last visit, I opted for the marinated squid in a spicy Korean sauce for my entrée.
I let it grill up on my hibachi as I dug into all the other side dishes that come with the main course. Talk about flavor!
9501 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055
Korea Garden is just off the Kathy Tollway and about a mile from the iFly Indoor Skydiving facility. Here you can learn what it’s like to jump from a plane at 10,000 feet without, you know, jumping from a plane at 10,000 feet.
After that goose-bump-inducing thrill, I like to head over to Korean Garden for some flavorful kimchi, stew, and grill-it-yourself BBQ.
There are numerous types of beef available for the entrée. But if you’re looking for a white-meat alternative, I suggest the Dwe-Ji Gui, a spicy marinated pork dish that melts in your mouth.
1805 W 18th St, Houston, TX 77008
Just a stone’s throw from the banks of the Buffalo Bayou lies Dak & Bop. The main river inside Houston meanders right by the restaurant and gives those lucky enough to get a window seat a relaxing and picturesque view.
Dak means chicken in Korean, and Bop translates to rice. So you can guess what I order, the steak—just kidding.
I can’t wait to dig into the loaded Dak & Bop Bowl with boneless chicken, jasmine rice, slaw, kimchi, and Korean kombak sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
2504 Amherst St, Houston, TX 77005
How appropriate that just west of Rice University is Oh My Gogi, a food truck fusion of Korean and Mexican foods that’s not to be missed.
Since this is a food truck, you won’t get to barbecue the meat yourself. But that’s a small price to pay for this tasty cuisine. Just wait in the long line and prepare to be impressed.
These guys will fill just about anything with their tasty bulgogi beef: tacos, quesadillas, burgers, and patty melts. Yum.
I recommend the bulgogi beef tacos and pork dumplings because it’s a fusion, and I want to experience the fuse.
9896 Bellaire Blvd suite j, Houston, TX 77036
Smack dab in the middle of Houston’s Chinatown area is Jang Guem, where traditional soups, Korean classics, and homey tofu dishes are served in a no-frills environment.
Winter wouldn’t be complete without at least one visit here for a bowl of warm and tasty soup.
The kimchi beef tofu soup is my favorite. It elevates that vinegary taste of kimchi by melding it perfectly with warm broth. The only thing that would make this place better is if we could grill at the table.
1453 Witte Rd, Houston, TX 77080
After 18 holes at Pine Forest Country Club, or a bucket of balls at Topgolf, I head east about two miles to find BORI, a contemporary and artsy Korean steakhouse with a top-notch atmosphere décor and food. While waiting for your upscale table, stroll through BORI’s art gallery.
I come here when I want some pampering. There’s a grill at the table, but you won’t cook your meal. A waiter will do the honors. Go for the dry-aged ribeye.
It’s been waiting more than a month to be eaten and every penny. Or try the Dol-Sot Bibimbap. It mixes gochujang sauce with beef, vegetables, and soft-poached eggs in a sizzling stone pot. Delicious.
3201 Louisiana St #101, Houston, TX 77006
Northeast of the Houston Zoo and museum district is this inviting restaurant that has installed funky lighting and futuristic chrome touches throughout.
Be prepared to gain weight here, for it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet with more than 30 items. Waiters bring out a little at a time. When you’re ready for more just flag one down and get your next batch.
I’m usually over-full after eating here because I love everything. I’m especially fond of the parmigiano-seasoned oysters, barbecued pork, and buttery rib-eye. They just taste great off the grill. But I also can’t get enough of the side dishes.
10016 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055
After spending a few hours at the Edith L Moore Nature Sanctuary, grab your chopsticks and drive a couple of miles to the Korean Noodle House.
They offer homegrown delicacies you can’t find elsewhere in Houston and specialize in seafood pancakes, hearty noodle soups, stews, and vibrant kimchi.
When I’m in the mood for soup, this place delivers with Ulmyeon, a thick seafood soup that features shrimp, mussels, squid, and several vegetables.
And when I’m hungrier, the Hoe Naengmyeon hits the spot. It’s an egg, radish, cucumber, and sweetened pepper paste over mature skate and buckwheat noodles.
If you like roller skating, the Skate Champions roller rink is a good place to work up an appetite in Houston. And you’ll need a healthy appetite if you decide to drive the few blocks to Jin Korean BBQ. Because no matter how hungry you are, you’ll leave satisfied.
What sets Jim Korean apart in my mind is that diners don’t have to wait for someone to bring the food for the in-table grill.
You can go up to the counter and get it yourself. Just be careful not to order too much. There’s an extra charge for leaving uncooked food on the table.
9887 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055
Long Point Road may be the unofficial Korean BBQ capital of Houston. No less than six KBBQ places are within a mile of each other.
One of my favorites is Manna Noodle House. You can get almost every type of Korean delicacy here.
On my last trip, I enjoyed the black bean curds, spicy pork with jajangmyun sauce, spiced daikon, and chicken noodle soup.
But you might be partial to the Tteokbokki with fish cake, kimchi, and pickled radish. In any case, you’ll leave satisfied.
1302 Blalock Rd, Houston, TX 77055
A family afternoon at Bear Creek Pioneer Park, with its deer, ducks, trails, and playgrounds, will likely burn off some major calories. So, you’ll need to replenish. And just a couple of miles away is The ToreOre, which is Korean for Chicken and Joy.
This is Korean-flavored fried chicken at its finest. I’m particularly fond of the balsamic scallion rub, mainly because I don’t know of another place that has developed that singular taste.
But if you’re in the mood for some heat, you might as well try the eponymously named Hot & Spicy rub. It has five fire emojis next to it on the menu, so be prepared.
9393 Bellaire Blvd a3, Houston, TX 77036
A narrow bayou forms the westward edge of Arthur Storey Park, where residents have been going for years to relax by the large pond.
Some take advantage of one of Houston’s only public, outdoor tai chi courts. From there, it’s a short drive east to Soho Chicken.
Soho is an insiders’ term for South Houston. (In New York City, the eclectic Soho district is short for “South of Houston Street.”)
I like that this place is open late. Currently, they stay open till 11 p.m., but after the pandemic, the doors won’t close till 2 a.m.
I also like the lemon shrimp appetizer. Six pieces are just the right amount to wet my whistle for the main course. Last time, my palate was satisfied by the Jaeyook Dupbap, a stir fry of spicy soy pork on a bed of rice.
9140 Bellaire Blvd Suite B, Houston, TX 77036
This is another of Chinatown’s favorite Korean restaurants. (I’ve always wondered how the Koreans were able to invade Chinatown, but that’s a different story.) Here, beef is the priority, with bulgogi, brisket, and sliced prime rib the favorites.
But I often splurge on the octopus and beef combination dinners. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.
Octopus can be chewy and crunchy in the same bite. It makes a nice companion to all the side dishes that accompany each BBQ item here.
9861 Long Point Rd, Houston, TX 77055
Bon Ga is among the cluster of Long Point Road Korean restaurants and one of “Little Korea’s” finest. Just a mile east of Haden Park, it offers traditional in-table barbecue as well as stews and kimchi pancakes.
I always seem to find something new and exciting at a Korean BBQ place, and it’s usually in the side dish category. Bon Ga is no different. Their radish wraps are second to none. And their steamed egg is not to be missed.