There is excellent Korean food in Chicago, you just have to know where to find it. And you can find most of it around Albany Park. Hopefully your experience with Korean food isn't limited to the Seoul Sassy wings at Crisp, but we'll help expand your horizon if that's the case.
Here's where to find the best Korean barbecue in Chicago.
If you're thinking of going to one Korean BBQ spot and don't know where to start, the answer is 100% Cho Sun OK. The food is great, which should be expected, but Cho Sun OK also has something we like to call The Feel Good Factor.™ Everything about it feels right, and it's exactly the local neighborhood experience you want for a meal like this. BYOB also feels right, and Cho Sun OK has that going for it too.
Korean and Japanese barbecue come together at Kalbi, where the inside feels as much like the Japanese baseball hall of fame as an Albany Park restaurant. You'll know what we mean immediately when you see all the pictures on the wall. So if you're into grilled meats and Hideki Matsui staring you in the face, Kalbi is the spot.
San Soo Gab San has one of the most impressive banchan spreads we've seen, so expect a rather big spread of little plates along with your BBQ. It's located in a small strip mall, so there's not much in the way of ambience or personality, but when you're looking to get in, eat, and get out, this is the place.
Fact - everything at Gogi is good. From the seafood pancake to the array of barbecue meats, you can't go wrong. The staff is also on the younger side and provides quality service. They'll hang around your table, cut, flip, and serve the meat once it's cooked. We know part of the fun is grilling your own food, but the results are definitely better when they do it for you.
Dancen is more Korean bar food than Korean barbecue, but they're cooking up one thing in particular on flames that alone is worth the trip - their buldak, or fire chicken. This sh*t is hot, both in the spicy sense and in the way Paris Hilton likes to call things cool. Get a plate of it for yourself and some sort of alcohol to wash it down.
Joong Boo is an Asian specialty market just off of I90 at Belmont, but there's also a secret weapon inside - a Korean restaurant called the Snack Corner. You won't find grills at your table, but they'll make it for you. Be sure to pick up some Korean snacks on your way out.
Looking for a good mix everything? Hit up Ssyal. On top of the barbecue ribs, marinated beef, and pork ribs, you should also mix in one of their soups and stews.
Jin Ju in Andersonville is a contemporary Korean restaurant that fuses traditional Korean food in a modern space, and it's perfect for a date in the area. It's sleek and dimly lit with mostly candlelight, so feel free to get a little handsy with both your kalbi and your date if you'd like.
Woo Chon is small, no frills, and relatively cheap. And that's always the type of restaurant you need in your arsenal.
If all of these places sound good to you but far from your current location, Tozi has your back. Located on Milwaukee just north of Ashland, Tozi has all the same food and toys (table-side grills) as the other places on this list. It's also easy to get to right off the blue line stop at Division.