Fire it up
The centerpiece of Korean barbecue is prepared meats and veggies grilled at the table by the diners themselves, and the folks at Siu Korean BBQ are doing a bang-up job with their take on this fun and tasty dining culture. Meals are all-you-can eat, lunch for $17.99 and dinner for $26.99.
Our recent visit started with a really good kimchi tofu—semi-firm cubes of tofu, thin-sliced veg, Korean soy paste, seaweed and just enough fermented spicy cabbage to give a kick to the back of the throat without overpowering the broth. This dish would be a great stand-alone meal.
Orders of popcorn chicken and pork dumplings came next. The chicken was crunchy and tasted fine in its sticky-sweet dipping sauce, but was probably the least interesting thing we tried. The potstickers were crispy, lightly seasoned and served with a scallion soy sauce. My wife—a big fan of this appetizer—said these were among the best she’s had.
The selection of banchan—side dishes that accompany a meal of Korean barbecue—included thin strips of rice cake, red potato cubes with sesame seeds, pickled carrot and daikon, kimchi and bean sprouts. A couple of housemade sauces and a dose of chili salt were available for dipping, and all were quite good.
Bulgogi—“fire meat”—refers to the style of marination as much as the thin-sliced meat itself. We tasted calamari, tri-tip and chicken bulgogi. The poultry had a nice bit of salt and tang. The tri-tip was tender and just a bit sweet, and the calamari was downright perfect, if I do say so myself—seeing as how I’m the one who grilled it. The flavor was terrific. The quality of the squid was great, and I really liked it with the salt and pepper sesame oil. My wife—who is usually up for a just a bite or two of squid—agreed that next time we should order two of these.
Somewhat similar to its skewered Thai cousin, a plate of chicken sate consisted of marinated breast meat that had been pounded flat, which we then cut into little pieces with the provided scissors. It had good flavor with a nice hint of spicy heat. Lemongrass pork was similarly prepared, with a delicate flavor that went well with the house vinegar sweet sauce. Perhaps the only non-marinated meat we tasted was chardol—incredibly thin strips of brisket that cook and shrink in a moment. They’re also good dunked in the chili salt.
We ordered most of the available vegetables, including white onion, green bell pepper and slices of giant oyster mushroom. The latter was meaty in texture with a nice ’shroomy pungency. I love me some good fungi. Large leaves of lettuce were available to make wraps, but we found them to be a distraction from the flavors on the plate. My wife ordered brown rice and threw pretty much everything in, making for one hell of a custom rice bowl.
Rounding things out was a serving of Hawaiian steak, essentially a piece of flat iron beef with a pair of half moon slices of tropical fruit. The marinated beef would have been fine on its own, but paired with grilled pineapple it’s something special—reminiscent of teriyaki but without the salty soy element.
We ended with a scoop of green tea ice cream and very full bellies. The place also sports a full liquor bar and even larger bubble tea bar. I’m definitely looking forward to our next visit.