My parents have always been a fan of Korean BBQ, and after having introduced myself and my husband to Gen Korean BBQ House a few months back, they soon heard about another all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant that they figured they needed to check out. This new place was much closer to our house, and after having gone together once, both of my parents instantly liked it much better than Gen. They were so taken with this particular restaurant that they went a second time a month or so later. Fast forward another month and my dad’s birthday was approaching. It’s our tradition that whoever’s birthday it was got to choose where they wanted to be taken out for a meal for their birthday. My dad chose this new Korean BBQ restaurant and my husband and I had no choice but to try this place out with my parents. Now, mind you, my husband was quite skeptical about this place and even up until the morning we were to pick up my parents to eat here, my husband was still trying to come up with excuses to get out of going.
Mr. BBQ opened in 2014 in Fullerton, nearby the campus of California State University, Fullerton, with the idea of providing customers a premium dining experience with “premium quality grade meats” in a “fun and lively atmosphere.” They call themselves a PAYCE restaurant, “premium-all-you-can-eat.” Depending on when you dine, lunch or dinner, weekends or weekdays, there’s several different pre-set menus you can choose from, as well as ordering a la carte as well. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, even for those who aren’t carnivores. Though, honestly, if you weren’t a meat lover, you probably wouldn’t find yourself in a Korean BBQ house.
The first thing my husband noticed when we walked into Mr. BBQ was its “fun and lively atmosphere” and he definitely liked it. With a bar running along the back wall, and a large open room filled with tables made for 2, 4, and bigger parties with a grill at each table and hood fans stationed above each table, the restaurant was decorated in glowing, bright neon colors and surrounded with one wall painted in a funky design and large screen tvs against other walls showing sporting events. To my husband, this gave him the feel of having walked into an authentic K-pop Korean BBQ house. It felt like some place you’d walk into in the late night/early morning hours after a night out with friends in Seoul.
Like any other all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant, you’re seated at a table with a grill in the middle of the table that is the focal point for everyone sitting around it. This is the sole piece of equipment you need in order to eat your meal. All of your meat and vegetables are cooked on this grill. The neat thing about Mr. BBQ that I haven’t seen at other Korean BBQ restaurants is their willingness to constantly change out your grill. The cleaner the grill is, the easier it is to cook your next round of meats and vegetables and the less likely that whatever your cooking on the grill will stick to it. When we were dining there, it seemed like our grill was changed out every 10 minutes or less. In about 1.5 hours, we must have gone through about 6 different grills. It was terrific service from our wait staff to be so attentive.
Once seated, the standard accompaniments that you would expect to see at a Korean BBQ restaurant were brought out to the table. This included edamame, kimchi, sliced pickled radishes, marinated bean sprouts, sliced onions, marinated broccoli florets, and rice paper. All of these accompaniments are companions to the grilled meats and vegetables that you cook on the grill. Additionally, you’re given a little sauce with a dipping sauce and some sea salt. The dipping sauce is for your grilled meats, and the salts can be sprinkled over your grilled meats for additional flavoring.
On the all-you-can-eat-menu, there’s a wide variety of different items to choose from. Everything from beef, to pork, chicken and seafood. The meat choices included thinly sliced prime beef brisket, premium choice chuck, premium beef belly, fresh cut choice sirloin, premium wagyu finger short ribs, premium marinated choice sirloin, veal intestine, ox large intestine, teriyaki chicken, spicy marinated chicken, premium cut fresh pork belly, finely sliced pork belly, spicy marinated pork belly, miso marinated pork belly, premium marinated pork chop, premium sliced pork neck, miso marinated pork butt, spicy garlic pork butt, premium marinated pork ribs, master link’s Portuguese Hawaiian, baby squid, spicy marinated squid, and fresh tiger shrimp. Like I said, a little bit of something for everyone. And you can order as much of any of the dishes as you can eat. You keep ordering and grilling and they keep bringing it to the table.
We were quite fond of the premium beef belly, the thinly sliced prime beef brisket, the fresh cut choice sirloin, premium wagyu finger short ribs, premium cut fresh pork belly, premium marinated pork chop and the fresh tiger shrimp. The choice sirloin was literally a whole steak that they brought to the table. You grill it up to the doneness that you prefer and you’re eating a steak. The beef belly and beef brisket were my favorites because they were sliced so paper thin that it took almost no time for them to grill. They were so flavorful when you popped it into your mouth.
My husband’s favorite was the premium cut fresh pork belly. Literally this was a huge slab of thick cut bacon. You take the pork belly and lay it out on the grill. It was perfect when you let it grill up for a bit so that it started getting crispy. It’s like fresh cut, yummy, fatty bacon that you’re grilling up. It smelled fantastic and tasted even better.
The idea when you order your meats and seafoods is to just take the meat and toss it on the grill. When it’s cooked on one side, you flip everything over and grill up the other side. When the meat is done, you start picking it up off the grill and popping it into your mouth.
It’s a non-stop eating frenzy. Order plates of meat, throw the meat on the grill. Cook up all the meat. Start devouring everything you’ve just grilled. And believe me, the waiters and waitresses at Mr. BBQ didn’t even bat an eye lash at you when you ordered plate after plate of food. In fact, when they would notice that the plates of food you ordered start running low, they come up to you to ask you if you want to order more. No one at a Korean BBQ house is shy about stuffing themselves to the gills.
Realistically, if you don’t eat meat, a Korean BBQ house is not a place for you as there’s very little you’d enjoy eating. But, that’s not to say that the menu only featured meats and seafoods. There were a few dishes that you could order that would accompany your grilled meats and seafoods. The options included housemade bean paste stew, spicy housemade tofu soup, cold white kimchi noodles and housemade steamed egg. It’s the steamed egg that my mom, dad and I enjoyed. Served in a small clay hot pot, is a steamed egg, which is literally what it implies. It’s best consumed hot, fresh out of the steamer when the egg is bubbly, fluffy and delicious. Along with your meal, you’re also served a large bowl of salad and you can request bowls of steamed white rice as well.
Surprisingly, by the end of the meal, my husband who was looking for excuses not to go with us to Mr. BBQ all the up to the point where we left the house, actually quite enjoyed himself. He loved the very authentic K-pop vibe of Mr. BBQ with its bright lights and colorful decorations. And the food itself was outstanding. We all left Mr. BBQ so stuffed we felt like we were going to burst. Plate after plate, after plate of meat was ordered, grilled and consumed. This is the perfect place for a meat loving family, like mine to find themselves dining. My husband even left Mr. BBQ saying that he would want to go back there again soon, that tells you right there how his opinion of Mr. BBQ changed completely from the time we walked into the restaurant to the time we left. This time around, my parents found a real winner in Mr. BBQ. You can be guaranteed, we’ll be back here again before long.