Korean fried chicken at Dak & Bop

Image: Kate LeSueur

Bon Ga

The hallmark here is reliability: the hours—10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week—and the consistency of the food and service, important to newcomers and aficionados of Korean barbecue, both of whom cook it themselves on grills at their tables. We love the boneless galbi (beef short ribs) and bulgogi (thinly sliced sirloin), but also some dishes the kitchen cooks for you: seafood pancakes and nicely spiced kimchi.

Dak & Bop

This is one of the only places inside the Loop where you can consistently find Korean fried chicken—which makes sense, as KFC is their specialty. What makes it so good—and so different—is that it’s fried twice, giving the chicken an extra-crispy exterior and a supremely juicy interior that’s elevated even further by a spicy red chile sauce. We recommend cooling off the burn with Dak & Bop’s hand-cut fries and a Cool Cloud Cucumber cocktail with yogurt. Yes, yogurt.

Dadami

The specialty here is hwe, also known as Korean-style sushi, which differs from its better-known counterpart in preparation (a live flounder is pulled straight from a fish tank and sliced up to order) and companion dishes (the flounder bones and extra flesh are used to make a spicy seafood stew that follows your sushi). The best time to come is at dinner, with a group, when you order by the number of people at your table and let the chefs send out round after round of fresh sushi, soups, grilled seafood, fermented vegetables and much more.

Dosi Restaurant

The modern Korean fusion food served by chefs Jordan Asher and Daniel Toro was one of Houstonia's Best New Restaurants of 2014, and their creations continue to capture our attention: quail in a black garlic sauce with candied citrus; grilled octopus with rice pancakes; fermented cauliflower, charred and tossed with buttermilk, mint vinegar, chiles and oranges. And if you’ve never tried soju, the popular Korean spirit that’s similar to vodka, the infused selection here is a fun place to start. Ed note: Dosi owner An Vo announced on May 4 that it would be revamping its menu as of May 15.

Jang Guem Tofu & BBQ House

Like the names implies, the dishes to get at this Chinatown mainstay are tofu soup (soondubu) and Korean barbecue (though here, the grilled meats are cooked in the kitchen, not at your table). Don’t overlook specialty items like kimchi dumplings with a tangy dipping sauce and salty-sweet japchae noodles with beef.

 

Bibimbap and tteok at Yori Yori

Korea Garden

This is the place to come with a big group of people and tuck into a meal of beef and soju for a few hours in a private room—you’ll be glad you did when things inevitably get rowdy. But no matter where you eat, you'll still get to enjoy grilling your own marinated meats at your table, indoors, in the A/C, away from the mosquitoes and humidity. 

Korea House

If you’re really hungry, tackle the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue at this Koreatown favorite—the main attraction here—but be warned: it’s pricey, and there’s a two-hour time limit, so be prepared to eat fast and eat a lot in order to get your money’s worth.

Seoul Garden

Yes, it’s tough to complain about banchan, the complimentary appetizers that accompany a standard Korean meal, since they’re free and all. But it’s another thing to recognize truly excellent banchan, such as you’ll find here—beautifully fermented kimchi; slippery, briny seaweed; cool, crunchy, spicy cucumber; and much more. There’s a lot of it too, making up for the portions of grill-your-own barbecue meats, which can be a little on the skimpy side. 

Toreore

In the food court at Super H Mart, the Korean grocery store on Blalock that also features a killer bakery and seafood counter, you’ll find some of the best Korean fried chicken in town, served in take-out pizza boxes, of all things. The double-fried creations are extremely spicy, extremely crave-able and best paired with Toreore’s other hit dish: kimchi-topped french fries.

Yori Yori Korean Soft Tofu & Grill

Another food court favorite, this eatery sits quietly next to the always-busy LA Crawfish inside 99 Ranch Market, which is why it’s so often overlooked. Seek out this humble stall for its chewy-crispy rice cakes (tteok) in fermented chile sauce (gochugjang), hot stone bowls full of crunchy rice and spicy seafood (bibimbap), and kimchi pancakes large enough to feed four.

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