With any grilling ritual, it’s you, the meat and the heat.
Korean barbecue, which is slowly catching on in Columbus, is an alternative to stoking the charcoal briquettes or fiddling with the knobs on your gas grill under the blazing and unrelenting sun.
It has all the traditional components of do-it-yourself grilling – tongs, a stack of glistening meat and a grill embedded in each table – all within climate-controlled surroundings.
San-Su, 1138 Bethel Road, is the not-so-new but latest purveyor of Korean barbecue and offers a good primer for the experience.
With help from owner Jae Jung, we’ve laid out five easy steps to enjoying the dining ceremony.
1) Choose carefully. There are many meat options available – San-Su has 13 – but the two most popular are bulgogi (New York strip steak here) and kalbi (beef short rib, bone in or without), each marinated with a sweetened soy sauce.
For the purposes of simplicity, go with the kalbi, a familiar and mouthwatering option – if cooked properly. The dinner portion ($24.99) is ample for one person.
2) Proper cooking technique. Place the meat on the grill and let sizzle, creating those glorious grill marks and caramelized exterior.
Medium is recommended, but don’t go too far beyond that temperature.
Scissors are provided, so if the meat is too long, you can cut it. Tip: The meat is more easily flipped using tongs instead of chopsticks.
3) Take advantage of the condiments. Oh, that lovely smorgasbord of sides served with Korean meals, from the rust-colored kimchi, the marinated cabbage that’s vivid with garlic and ginger, to bean sprouts to Korean potato salad.
They provide a flavor and texture bonanza, ranging from tart and crunchy to soft and sweet.
4) Build your wrap. Each order comes with leaf lettuce, which serves as a kind of verdant taco.
Place the cooked meat in the center of the wrap and garnish with fresh jalapeno and garlic (they too can be grilled for positive effect) and the Korean “barbecue” sauce (bean paste, sesame oil, mayonnaise and green onions, among other seasonings).
The condiments, too, can enter the lettuce sheet or be eaten by themselves. Wrap lettuce tightly to avoid spillage.
5) One last thought: Enjoy.