Boo-il Korean Restaurant

What’s not to like about barbecuing meat over a tabletop charcoal or gas grill while socializing around the table with your favorite people? Think beef, pork and chicken deliciously marinated in spicy gochujang paste or gochugaru flakes, soy sauce, sugar and scallions. The meat slowly caramelizes on the grill while your server brings a parade of different side dishes (banchan). Korean barbecue is definitively one of our favorite dining experiences.

As the meat gets cooked, you wrap it up in a super crisp lettuce leaf with a smear of soybean paste, a spoonful of rice and crispy veggies — a pocket size bite that’s pure perfection. And to wash it all down, a bottle of soju is always mandatory at the table.

In Korean barbecue, there are three cuts of meat that are the most popular, starting with slices of pork belly that get bacon crispy on the grill. You also have the bulgogi, thinly sliced sirloin or tenderloin, and our personal favorite, Kalbi or tender cuts of beef short ribs. Everything is conveniently sliced in small pieces.

If you like, you can also get your cuts of meat without the marinade, but our recommendation would be to get a bit of both so you can enjoy a variety of flavors. And if you need a little help with the cooking, just ask your server. He or she will gladly flip the meat for you or let you know when it’s ready.

In Chicago, Boo-il Korean Restaurant is one of the oldest Korean restaurants in town. They are also one of the only ones using natural charcoal in their barbecue, which adds a very unique flavor to the meat.

Although this restaurant is on the pricier side for our budget (around $80 for 2-3 people), you do get very good quality meat and the servers are incredibly helpful.

We loved how the owner would stop by our table to recommend how to properly eat our meal. She even showed us how to make a fully-packed kalbi lettuce wrap that fit perfectly in my mouth. Between the banchan, the rice and the meat, we were more than satisfied to even think about dessert.

If you haven’t tried it yet, definitively take your friends or family. Our friend Alan recommended this place and it did not disappoint.

It’s a great social eating experience and it will help lower your bill. Just make sure not to order too much, because you will fill up with all the side dishes. When in doubt, ask your server. To get a taste of the experience at Boo-il, check out the video on our YouTube page.

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