Recently, I found myself playing host to a visiting family member who had flown in from America for vacation. As expected, one of the first things she wanted to eat was authentic Korean barbeque. We combed through my neighborhood, looking for something that was open (it was Sunday), not too expensive, and somewhat busy until we eventually ended up at 화석시대 (hwaseok shidae).
The woody interior and simple decorations were more than enough to convince me that this place would be Korean enough for my guest. As expected, we were seated on the floor, and the entire menu was plastered on the wall with no pictures or English letters. Speaking of the menu, it was nice to see that the restaurant offered different cuts of meat, as well as different types of 쌈밥 (ssambap). We ordered 생삼겹살 (saeng samgyupsal), 생목살 (saeng moksal), and 떡갈비 (tteokgalbi) so that my guest could experience a good variety of different types of barbeque.
Once we placed our order, our waitress first brought out the usual trio for grilling (salted sesame oil, spicy paste, garlic) along with a plate of white noodles topped with veggies and a sweet, spicy sauce (similar to what you’d have with mixed rice). Though I’m not proud to admit it, we kind of ended up fighting over the noodles, as they were surprisingly tasty for such a simple dish (or maybe we were just hungry?).
Shortly after, our table was set up with trays of different types of lettuce, mushrooms, onions, and colorful rice cakes. We also got our usual bowl of seasoned green onions before our waitress set up the grill for us to cook. One thing worth noting about this restaurant is that the grills here are tilted so that any grease that may accumulate while cooking will just pour down into a drip pan instead of smoking and burning. They also seem to be of higher quality and don’t have any holes, removing the risk of losing precious meat and pieces of garlic into the flame.
After we started to cook our meat and veggies, a woman with a box of kimchi came by, placing a bunch of good, sour kimchi on our grill before instructing us to cut it up into bite sized pieces. For those of you that may be unaware, grilled kimchi is absolutely amazing with Korean barbeque. I honestly wish more restaurants offered something like this.
Once everything was finished cooking, we cut the large pieces of meat up and dove in Korean style. While it may not be for everyone, my usual steps to setting up a wrap is to dip my piece of meat in the salty sesame oil before placing it on a piece of lettuce, add garlic, onion, mushroom, green onions, grilled kimchi, and then finally top it off with a touch of the spicy paste known as 쌈장 (ssamgjang). Though I don’t always do it in this order, I’ve found that this combination has worked out beautifully for me in terms of getting the most flavor out of one bite. The tricky part is to not add too much of anything, as you want to be able to shove everything into your mouth in one go (yes, you will probably get chipmunk cheeks).
When it came to this particular restaurant, the 삼겹살 (aka ‘wet bacon’) was pretty standard, as was the less fatty 목살. Though the 떡갈비 was a good, meaty size, it lacked the flavor that I had come to love from eating the good stuff in the Seongjeong area. While it still technically counts as 떡갈비, it’s hard to compare it to the proper marinated goodness. That being said, this is definitely a safe place to go if you’re looking for a simple, no frills Korean barbeque joint.
Address: 광주광역시 서구 풍암동 1113-10
Average Price Range: 10,000-11,000 per person for pork (15,000 for beef)