In need of more Korean barbecue (yes, a pressing need, even), I turned once again to Seoulistic, which has a list of some of Seoul’s most famous and popular galbi restaurants. Not being in a place to judge the article’s merits by comparative measures, I just took these guys’ at their word.
They turned out to be pretty spot on about the first place on their list, Mapo Sutbul Galbi in Nonhyeondong, Gangnam.In addition to a few more banchan dishes, Mapo Sutbul had a raw crab (without the brains) in gochujang, which was a pleasant distraction while we waited for the meat to arrive. So much so that Myra had to get me to stop gnawing at the crab when the meat arrived. And I, with a messy gochujang-stained face and numbed lips, obliged once the pork belly hit the grill. We ate everything ssam style, with big, fresh, crisp sheets of lettuce and a little sesame oil with salt. I prefer lettuce to perilla, but if push came to shove, anything works as long as pork belly is involved.And marinated pork and beef galbi, which was tantalizingly fatty on the grill. Somehow, we didn’t get as smokey as I thought we might. Stealthy ventilation, perhaps, and it was basically an empty restaurant (public holiday, ‘natch!) that normally sits over two hundred. I can only imagine what pandemonium the place is on a soju-fueled late night. I love the sesame seeds on the beef galbi, especially when they get charred by the flame. These I mostly ate without lettuce, the aged onion and soy-sauce-y sweetness blending with the chewy fat and the bitter crisp of the blackened edges.
The bowl of bulgogi jungol was a bit superfluous, but it was also delicious, especially the way that the sweet marinade seeps into the crunchy enoki mushrooms atop the bulgogi. Part of the trouble was that the dish was so perfect with one of those steel bowls of rice, but we were so supremely stuffed at that point, it was impossible to simultaneously enjoy both (and clearly we chose the galbi). Mapo Sutbul Galbi / 마포숯불갈비
Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Nonhyeon-dong 62-6 /서울시 강남구 논현동 62-6