In a hip Asian strip mall in Carrollton, the new Gen Korean BBQ presents a powerful combination of atmosphere and piles of tasty meats. It’s a memorable experience, though the price may keep it in special occasion territory for many. Fortunately, dining at Gen Korean is more affordable for lunch, and you’d be hard pressed to leave hungry.
Once past the heavy doors, diners walk into a display of chic electric-blue lighting and design. In Korean barbecue service, diners order meats and cook them on a small grill in the center of the table. The ventilation over each table’s grill is emphasized rather than hidden, and it adds a cool a futuristic vibe to the space. Hip-hop and R&B play loudly throughout the packed dinner service, populated mostly by young professional Asians.
Kimchi and other pickled veggies for the main courses wait at the table and a salad follows shortly after seating. The salad is merely a distraction and placeholder until the main event arrives. The menu and check holders appear to be clad in football skins and the menu’s inside cover offers brief details on service; certain aspects of the fine print are worth noticing and there is other important information not in the menu.
Diners can change orders throughout the meal so they're not bound to their original decisions, and menu items can be ordered in half portions. For two hours, the meat is all-you-can-eat but may cost extra if a pile of uneaten protein is on the table — a common practice in American Korean barbecue spots. The adventurous can order half portions from the get-go so they can sample more.
Solid choices include beef bulgogi, marinated prime chuck that's sliced thin, and the red wine samgyubasal, a wine-marinated pork belly. Gen Korean’s Vice President Michael Yates recommended the premium chadol, thinly sliced brisket that quickly simmers on the grill, and Gen signature yangyum galbi, marinated bone-in short rib. Cajun shrimp are tasty but hardly worth the effort of peeling the head and shell away. The menu offers several vegetarian options but if that’s your lifestyle, you’re probably in the wrong place.
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Dinner service costs a flat $24.99 per guest, while lunch comes in at a more wallet-friendly $15.99 but offers slightly fewer choices. Children from ages 5 to 10 eat half-price and children 4 and younger eat free.
When meats arrive, flip them onto the gas grill, occasionally shifting them until they’re cooked. Controls to adjust the heat lie under the table. The scissors provided are a good way to cut the tender meat to check for preparedness, along with divvying it up. Paying $25 to cook your own dinner isn’t for everybody, but it can be a fun experience to share with friends and family. Late night happy hour prices don’t inspire much excitement, but the menu offers several sake and soju options.
The restaurant opened its doors last weekend and business has been growing steadily, according to Yates. The California chain is hosting the grand opening from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday.
Gen Korean BBQ, 2540 Old Denton Road, Suite 134, Carrollton