When Perilla first opened in the West Loop, not every table had a grill. That’s changed, which is good since the BBQ at this upscale Korean restaurant is what you should be focusing on. This is one of the pricer places for KBBQ—They have filet mignon and A5 wagyu, a $105 per person tasting menu, plus the banchan (which is delicious) is a la carte. And if you come here and don’t order the incredibly light and crispy kimchi pancake, or the rice cake royale, you need to take some time and re-evaluate your life’s decisions.
The rotating seasonal vegetable plates are also must-orders - our favorites are the blistered shishitos with hazelnuts, or broccoli topped with fried garlic chips. And pairing the steamed egg (a bowl filled with a cartoonishly-tall pile of fluffy eggs) with the spicy meat dishes has made us discover an entirely new appreciation for eggs.
As far as Korean BBQ goes, this place is pretty sedate. You’ll be grilling your own meat to a quiet indie rock playlist, surrounded by couples on dates silently grilling away and people that clearly just came from the office.
With the exception of the galbi, the marinated meat at Perilla is bland and it’s consistently overcooked. Plus, the seven-to-eight banchan dishes that accompany it aren’t particularly interesting. The kimchi is good, and so are the pickled radishes. Everything else (like cucumbers and the tofu) is boring, and the turmeric beets are a true nightmare.
An absolute must order. The chicken is tender, and spicy enough to earn the name but not so much Dick Wolf will be making a Chicago Fire Chicken spinoff anytime soon. Its topped with enough chihuahua cheese to balance down the heat, but not enough to be overwhelming.
Another thing that needs to be on the table. There are three different pancakes here (scallion, kimchi, and seafood) and our favorite is the kimchi. But all are light and crispy, and pair well with the soy vinaigrette they’re served with.
Perilla knows how to make chicken. The sweet and spicy fried chicken wings here are very good, and the housmade ranch makes a fantastic dipping sauce.
The pieces of pork shoulder are moist and coated in a rich spicy sauce. It comes on top of rice, but we like eating this with the steamed egg.
We’re not often overwhelmed by eggs, but when this appeared on the table, it gave us pause. It’s a giant bowl of light and fluffy steamed eggs, with dashi, green onion, and sesame. It makes a great side to the spicy meat dishes (like the pork or chicken) and we also like it on its own with some gochujang.
Are these dumplings worth driving across town for? Not really, but if you’re here go ahead and get an order.
Blistered Shishito Peppers
At some point, we felt like we couldn’t go to any restaurant without seeing shishito peppers on the menu. It’s hard to make them stand out, but Perilla does. They’re perfectly charred, and the sweet sauce is a nice counterpoint to the pepper. Plus, hazelnuts add some good texture, and the fried anchovies give it some salt.
Hot Stone Bibimbap
There are just too many beets in this. It overwhelms the rice and the bland bulgogi and turns everything purple when it gets mixed together.
Stir-Fried Glass Noodles
The bland bulgogi strikes again. The soy flavor overwhelms the combination of beef, noodles, and vegetables, and you don’t need to order it.