Apr 10, 2017
I introduced a Japanese BBQ restaurant in a previous article on this website, and in this article, I would like to write about my favourite Korean BBQ restaurant. There are quite a few differences between Japanese style BBQ and Korean style BBQ. The most noticeable difference is that if you order a meat dish at a Korean BBQ, it will come with many free side dishes, which are called panchan in Korean. This is not the case at Japanese BBQ restaurants. There will normally be an odd number of these side dishes served, as having an even number would be considered to bring bad luck. The panchan usually consist of fresh and pickled vegetables, often including kimchi, which is arguably the most well-known food associated with Korea.
One other important difference between Japanese and Korean BBQ restaurants is that at a Korean BBQ restaurant, the staff will help you to cook the meat, so you can relax and just focus on eating, drinking and talking. However, in Japanese BBQ restaurants, you are usually expected to cook the meat by yourself.
My favorite Korean BBQ restaurant in Suzhou is called “青鹤谷/Qinghegu”, located in 李公堤南/Ligongdi-nan on 金鸡湖大道/Jinjihu dadao. The restaurant itself is a little hidden, if you don’t know where to look for. From the entrance of Ligongdi-nan, you need to turn left and go past the Harley Davidson shop. There will then be a small entrance with signs for several restaurants on the left-hand side, and you will see the name of this Korean restaurant among those signs. You need to turn left here and walk through a car parking area to find the restaurant entrance.
My friend first took me to Qinghegu, which she had learned about through a friend who is from Seoul, about a year ago. Since then, I have fallen in love with it. Apparently, it is part of a chain of restaurants, which has more than 15 locations in South Korea, as well as several in China.
I would like to recommend some particular dishes from the Qinghegu menu. In terms of BBQ meat, I like ordering Samgyeopsal (pork belly), Dwaeji bulgogi (marinated pork) and Bulgogi (marinated beef). Additionally, the cheese omelet, Japchae (boiled potato noodles fried with vegetables) and Dolsot bibimbap (rice topped with seasoned vegetables, served in a heated stone) are also very tasty, if you have enough space in your stomach for something extra. Once you order dishes, the staff bring out the panchan, which includes salad and some vegetables for wrapping the BBQ meats. A popular way of eating BBQ meat in Korea is to wrap the cooked meat in a lettuce leaf, together with kimchi, sauce and some other vegetables.
Most of the dishes at Qinghegu are reasonably priced, especially when you consider that they come with several free side dishes. If you go in a small group, just ordering meat is likely to be enough to fill you up. The staff members are always friendly and offer good customer service. Bear in mind that this restaurant is usually quite busy, especially on the weekend. There is normally a queue at lunchtime and dinnertime, so I would suggest making a reservation if you are planning to go.
About the Column
Kaori is from Fukuoka, Japan and she moved to Suzhou with her British husband in 2010. She gave birth to a baby girl in Shanghai in 2014 and is currently a full-time mother, but previously studied Chinese at Suzhou University. Kaori enjoys going for walks, going out for meals, shopping on Taobao and visiting new places in China. Places she has particularly enjoyed visiting include Harbin, Beijing, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Moganshan, Guilin and Yangshuo. She also loves to explore different areas of Suzhou, both old and new.