I have now gone to all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue twice, and I have realized that there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to tackling such a feast. Allow this novice to share with you things that I’ve learned:
1. It’s not a spur-of-the-moment event. You’re going to need to know if you’re going to Korean Barbecue before lunchtime of the day you’re going to go, because you need to plan accordingly. Assuming that you’ll be eating dinner, you better eat a light lunch and breakfast. I’m talking a lettuce leaf and a grape. You’re going to want to be STARVING by the time you arrive (though not by, like, African baby standards). My second time, I thought I would have a light snack right before I went, so I would fill up faster and thus save myself some self-loathing. But no. It did nothing.
2. The sides are awesome, but just do little taste-tests of those. Eat some of the salad, because you’ll feel better about yourself knowing you got a vegetable in you. The only thing you should feel free to go to town on is that latke-like thing.
3. Don’t waste time on the unmarinated meats. Sure, they’re tasty, but they’re nowhere near as good as the juicy stuff. My first time, I gorged myself on the unmarinated stuff until I was comfortably full. And then my eating comrades declared that the marinated stuff was coming out and…oh my God. It’s just…so good. So you eat a lot of that until you’re well past the point of comfortably full. And then someone always seems to order ANOTHER course of awesome stuff. And the process repeats. So I guess my point is: know how many courses people are planning to order.
4. Don’t order octopus. It’s only really good when it’s perfectly cooked, and the “perfectly cooked” window is really small. And no one knows when that window is open. Just…don’t.
5. You’re going to hate yourself. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good time. You have fun with friends and you’re cooking on your table. It’s awesome. But you’re going to stuff yourself stupid. When you stand up, the contents of your stomach will disrupt your normal center of gravity. You’re going to smell like meat. The scent will haunt you. Your skin will be slick with meat grease. You’re going to be sluggish. And this feeling will last at least 24 hours.
6. There’s still room for dessert. Fact: there always is.