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Monday, June 20, 2011

Greenville (SC) Eats: Tasty Korean BBQ

There's about a million reasons why people may want to avoid Tasty Korean BBQ. For starters, it's named Tasty Korean BBQ. I suppose the fact that it's attached to a gas station in a cramped parking lot next to what I think is a tax store also makes it less attractive. Despite the visual faults, anyone who steps into hole-in-the-wall will find themselves pleasantly surprised by the clean and charming interior of this family restaurant - and some good eats as well.

Every time I go to a Korean restaurant, I have high hopes of trying something different, or well, some bulgogi or garbi (korean barbecue) at least. But the sight, smell, and best of all crackling sound of a dolsot bibimbap (mixed rice in a hot stone bowl) was too hard for this traveler to turn down. I've had many dolsot bibimbap's in the past year, all of which have come in as many variations. Tasty Korean BBQ's version is one of the simpler with carrots, spinach, bean sprouts and a few greens with the usual bulgogi -(marinated beef) and fried egg on top. Honestly, I've had better bibimbap's before: some more complicated in vegetables, some with more flavorful bulgogi, and some with hotter stone bowls and crispier, sweeter rice, but you know what? Tasty Korean BBQ's version is still as every bit as soulful as any other bibimbap before. There's something about the textures, the taste, and the magical fried egg on top that makes this a dish that's almost impossible to beat. Not the perfect bibimbap, but still one well worth the price of admission.

Side dishes (known as banchan) are a trademark of Korean restaurants, traditionally served complimentary with every meal. Tasty Korean BBQ sports five; a much needed, much loved clear noodle stir-fry, a traditional plate of crisp and spicy kim chi, a slightly sweet and chewy-in-a-great way plate of squid, some sauteed zucchini (shrugs), and a cold, cool plate of potatoes mashed in some sweet cream. Delicious. Though other Korean restaurants I've been to have had more side dishes (up to 14 at the most I've seen!), Tasty's five banchan's were satisfying, well made, and all I really needed on a stormy night. Any more and it would have probably felt like a challenge rather than a meal. To finish things off, a cup of ginseng tea on the side brought everything together, capping off a great, filling dinner.

No Reservations, a Look at Tasty Korean BBQ
Atmosphere: Clean, cool, and casual. Don't be fooled
by the funny setting outside.
Costs: Korean food tends to be $9+, Tasty being no exception. You can find some fairly good lunch prices though if you don't mind opting for some simpler dishes.
Try: Anything barbecue, or the bibimbap.

The restaurant had a fair amount of busy the evening I visited. You know an ethnic restaurant is satisfying when locals of the same ethnicity visit, and Tasty Korean BBQ is no exception. Two tables were filled with local Korean business clients while other local Koreans came in and out to enjoy the food and visit with the owners. Non-Koreans also came in and out, apparently friendly and familiar with the owners at the restaurant. For an ethnic restaurant, there's a wonderfully local feel about it that made it all the more warming to visit on a dreary wet day. No, it is far from the best of its kind, but for simple, true to its name food, Tasty Korean BBQ is well worth a visit for anyone in the Greenville area.

Tasty Korean Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon


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