Korean BBQ, also known as KBBQ, is a popular method of grilling marinated meat and vegetables right at your table. It’s an interactive and social dining experience where food is cooked in the center of the table on a built-in grill. KBBQ restaurants are all-you-can-eat, allowing diners to order more meat and sides as they go. This unlimited nature, plus the delicious thinly sliced marbled beef and pork, can lead to eating very large quantities in one sitting. If your goal is to eat as much KBBQ as possible, here are tips to help you maximize your meaty meal.
Come Hungry and With an Empty Stomach
The number one rule for eating a lot of KBBQ is to come to the restaurant hungry. Eat a light meal beforehand or avoid eating for several hours leading up to your food feast. You want your stomach to be empty enough to pack it as full as possible. Eating on an empty stomach means you’ll have enough room for more servings of meat and sides. If you come to KBBQ full and lethargic from a heavy lunch, you won’t be able to take advantage of the unlimited proteins on offer. Let your hunger work for you so that you have the appetite to eat to your heart’s and stomach’s content.
Drink Water Throughout the Meal
Hydration is key when eating large volumes of food. Drink plenty of water before and during your KBBQ dinner to help digest and process all that you eat. Water also keeps you feeling full and satiated. Alternate bites of meat with sips of water to maximize how much beef, pork, and chicken you can consume in one sitting. Avoid drinking soda, juice, or alcohol, as the sugar and carbonation can make you feel too full too fast. Stick with regular water to eat more without getting overly stuffed. The water helps the food digest properly so you have room for the next round of meat from the grill.
Pace Yourself But Keep Eating
While it’s important to come hungry, you have to be smart about how you pace yourself through the KBBQ meal. Don’t gorge yourself too fast on the first few rounds of meat. Try the different proteins on offer and evaluate the cuts of meat you like best. Then order more of your favorites but continue trying new items too. Go slowly enough to let your food settle before asking for additional servings. But don’t take too long of breaks between orders or you risk getting full too fast. Keep eating at a measured pace so that you can try every type of meat but don’t overload your stomach all at once.
Prioritize Protein Over Sides
At a Korean BBQ joint, you want to allocate most of your stomach capacity for meat rather than sides. Fill up on thin strips of marinated beef, pork belly, brisket, and chicken rather than rice, noodles, or veggies. You can always eat more rice, but proteins are where you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to fullness and satisfaction. Focus your grill orders on the meats you want more of rather than splitting stomach space on banchan side dishes or starches. There’s usually an unlimited banchan selection anyways, so no need to stuff yourself too much on these small starters.
Take Breaks Between Courses
Once you’ve finished several rounds of grilled meat, take a short break before cooking the next batch. This gives your body some time to begin digesting the beef and pork you just ate. Sit back, drink some water, chat with your dining companions, and let the food start to settle before diving in for more. Taking strategic breaks prevents that overly full feeling that cuts your meal short prematurely. You want to let the digestion process work so you have capacity again for upcoming servings. Time these breaks well to maximize how much meat you can consume in one sitting.
Wear Loose, Comfortable Clothing
Choose your KBBQ outfit wisely by selecting loose, stretchy clothes with a flexible waistband. Tight pants, dresses, or tops can get very uncomfortable as your food baby grows. You don’t want to have to unbutton your jeans or loosen your belt halfway through the meal. Opt for soft fabrics like t-shirts, leggings, sweatpants, and flowy tops that will grow with your stomach. Not restricting your abdomen with tight clothing allows you to eat to your maximum capacity without pain or pressure. Comfy clothes that don’t squeeze your torso are key for a big KBBQ feast.
Bring a Group to Share the Meat
Eating large quantities of Korean BBQ is much easier when the food is shared family-style. Bring a group of ravenous friends or family to help you eat through all the proteins. With more people, you can order a wider variety of meats to sample and try without having to finish entire portions yourself. Everyone can pick their favorites to focus on. Plus when you’re stuffed, you can rely on your dining companions to take over the grilling and eating so that you don’t have to overeat. Sharing makes pacing yourself and eating past fullness easier.
Make Reservations on an Empty Night
The best time to maximize your KBBQ intake is by making reservations for an off-peak dinner time, ideally when the restaurant is not crowded. You want ample time to cook, eat slowly, and order more rounds without feeling rushed by waiting diners. Avoid prime weekend hours and ask for a table later on weeknights instead. An empty restaurant means the staff won’t be in a hurry to turn the table, allowing you to linger and eat for as long as you want. You’ll also have the grill master’s attention when needing additional meat.
Request More Meat Before Running Out
As you start running low on any given meat on the grill, be sure to let your server know you want more of that particular protein before it’s gone. Don’t wait until you’ve finished the last piece to ask for another round or you’ll have a gap where you aren’t eating. Politely requesting additional servings as you near the end ensures the meat keeps flowing continuously throughout your meal. The grill should never go empty and leave you with nothing to eat for any period of time. Keep the KBBQ relay going by anticipating when you need more food.
Try Less Familiar Cuts of Meat
Don’t be afraid to order proteins you are less familiar with to change things up. Part of the fun of KBBQ dining is trying unique cuts of meat beyond just traditional cuts of beef and pork. Expand your palate to Offal like tongue or liver, rich Korean pork jowl, marinated chicken cartilage, thinly sliced pork belly, and thinly sliced cuts of brisket. Interspersing novel meats gives your tastebuds a change of pace. And since they’re new flavors, you’re less likely to get tired of them as quickly. Varying the grilled meat keeps you interested in the meal and eating strong.
Use Lettuce Wraps
Take advantage of lettuce wrap “ssam” to change up flavors and textures while maximizing how much you eat. Balance the rich meats by wrapping bites in crisp lettuce and herbs for a refreshing contrast. Wrap pieces of fatty pork belly, oxtail, or short ribs in lettuce for a lighter, crunchy bite. Using lettuce ssam allows you to develop a bundled bite with sauces, kimchi, rice, and veggies – packing in more components than meat alone. The lettuce adds bulk and gives your jaw a break from all the chewing.
Bring Your Own Sauces and Spices
One secret for KBBQ veterans is to bring your own specialty sauces and spice blends. While the restaurant will have the usual kimchi, sesame oil, and soy sauce, you can amp up flavors with your secret stash. Bust out your favorite hot sauces, savory marinades, or spicy dry rubs to liven up the grilled meat if you start getting bored. Having your special seasoning on hand prevents the food from tasting monotonous after too many rounds. Sprinkle chili flakes, smear on spicy mayo, or dash on soy vinegar to keep your tastebuds excited about the next grilled bite.
Eat Both Cooked and Raw Meat
In addition to cooking meat on the grill, KBBQ is also enjoyed raw. Alternate between cooked, charred pieces and fresh, raw thinly sliced meat. Try wrapping raw beef or pork in lettuce with rice and salsa for a refreshing texture. Eating the proteins both cooked and raw gives your jaws a break from all the chewing while maximizing how much beef and pork you take in. The raw meat also offers different flavors from the grilled and marinated versions. Switching between the two styles keeps your mouth interested in more.
Bring Antacids and Aids If Needed
When eating a huge quantity of meat and sides, it’s smart to come prepared with antacids, Gas-X, Pepto-Bismol, or other stomach aids. Keep these supplements on hand discretely and take them preemptively if you start to feel overly full or uncomfortable. Having them available means you don’t have to stop eating due to indigestion before you are ready to call it quits. Pop an antacid after a bathroom break to relieve any heaviness and get back to the grill for more. Don’t let minor discomfort interrupt your KBBQ feast.
Go for Dessert
After taking another short break post-meal, consider ordering a sweet Korean dessert to conclude your epic gastronomic adventure. Share bingsoo shaved ice, lava cake, or green tea ice cream to truly max out your meal. The sweet treat can act as a palate cleanser while adding more calories on top of your massive meaty haul. Alternating savory and sweet dishes opens up more room than eating endless meat alone. Dessert can act as a second wind when you thought you were done but have space for just a little bit more. What better way to finish than with something chilled and sugary?
Get Leftovers To Go
When you’ve finally hit the wall and can’t manage one more bite, make sure to box up any leftover meat and banchan to take home. Don’t waste a scrap of those grilledgoodies. Fuel up with cold KBBQ all week long by having ready to eat leftovers. Pack yourself lunches and midnight snacks with the remaining proteins and sides you couldn’t finish in the restaurant. Getting every last morsel to go ensures you fully optimize your all you can eat experience. Those leftovers are a badge of honor of the quantity you managed to put away.
Weigh Yourself After
The true test of how much you packed away at a KBBQ all you can eat is to weigh yourself immediately after before digestion kicks in. Note how many pounds heavier you are from when you first walked into the restaurant. See if you can set a new personal best record after each visit. The number on the scale mixed with how stuffed you feel is the best measurement of your ability to maximize consumption of these Korean grilled meats. Just be warned that you’ll be carrying that food baby long after the meal!
Eating epic amounts of Korean BBQ is no easy feat, but entirely possible with the right strategies. Come hungry, pace yourself, prioritize meat, stay hydrated, listen to your body, and employ a few tricks to keep your appetite going strong. With the unlimited proteins available at KBBQ restaurants, you have ample opportunity to push your stomach to its limits. Just be prepared for the meat sweats and major food coma that follows! But being able to eat maximum amounts of Korean barbecue is a skill worth mastering for hardcore meat lovers.