Continue on the topic of Korean BBQ, the second famous Korean BBQ restaurant in Seoul must be Palsaek Samgyeopsal (팔색삼겹살)! ‘Palsaek’ literally translates into ‘eight colors’ and ‘samgyeopsal’ is essentially the ‘pork belly meat’. Serving fresh local pork belly meat in eight different special sauces, the restaurant has quickly gained its popularity in Korea and expanded to 35 locations across the country. Not only that, the restaurant also has branches in Los Angeles, Melbourne, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei to promote the delicious taste of Korean food internationally!
To avoid the crowds, we visited the location near Hyehwa station exit 2 for a weekday lunch.
The restaurant had a homey and cozy vibe, with courteous, attentive staff greeting us and making us feel at home. Each table is equipped with a gas-fueled hot plate, a gas stove, and a drawerful of utensils, tissue and aprons.
The hot plate is angled downwards so excess oil will drip down.
Since their specialty is the ‘8 flavors’ samgyeopsal, we naturally went for the premium set (43,000 won), which also included grilled deodeok (mountain herb) and tasty kimchi. Soon after we ordered, the table started to be filled with various greeneries, side dishes, sauces and condiments.
All the ingredients (except for the meat, of course) are refillable. Simply head towards the open fridge and take what you need!
Little did we know that the set also came with a seafood hot pot! We were bewildered and started worrying how in the world could the two of us finish everything in front of us…
If you’re worried about getting your clothes dirty, you could put on the cute little apron before barbecuing~
The ‘8 flavors’ pork bellies were served on a wooden plank. Beneath each plate of meat stated the sauce it was marinated in so you could refer quickly and know what you’re eating.
The server did all the cooking for us. Once the strips of meat were cooked to perfection, he would cut them into small pieces and set them aside for us to eat. The meats were grilled in a specific sequence, from mild to stronger flavours. Typically, the first 4 flavours (ginseng, wine, pine leaves, garlic) are grilled first, followed by the next 4 strips (herbs, curry, miso paste, and hot pepper paste). In between batches, the serve would use a cube of radish to clear all the burnt pork bits and oil on the hot plate. What an ingenious idea!
My personal favorites were the wine for its citrusy flavor, and curry for the strong, exotic taste! The rest weren’t as impressive.
The deodeok (mountain herb) was quite foreign to us. Apparently, it is a nutritional ingredient that helps reduce absorption of cholesterol – perfect for a barbecue meal! It had a firm, chewy texture, with a taste of roasted chestnuts. One the side was a bowl of one-year-old kimchi, which was slightly more flaccid in texture, with a bit of plum flavour.
It took us hours to finish up the meat alone, not to mention the gigantic pot of seafood soup. It was a nice accompaniment to the greasy pork bellies though.
‘8 flavors’ pork belly is a fascinating concept and definitely a fun way to enjoy samgyeopsal. Strongly recommended to Korean BBQ fans. Good news is… you don’t have to come all the way to Korea to try it!
About Palsaek Samgyeopsal (팔색삼겹살) – University Street Branch (대학로점)
Address: 1-65 Dongsung-Dong, Jongno-Gu, Seoul (서울시 종로구 동숭동 1-65번지)