Steven Martinez and Miranda Amey
Walking into Big Bowl Korean BBQ gives one the opposite impression of large at first glance. The few two-person and four-person tables, with two small tables out front, along with kids’ drawings pinned up near the entrance, lend an intimate atmosphere to the eatery.
The restaurant, at the corner of Saratoga and Staples, offers a spin on the traditional grill standbys of beef, pork and chicken with a variety of sides and appetizers. Best of all, its prices make it perfect for students on a budget.
Upon entering, I was greeted by the owner/cashier/cook — seemingly only person working there — who asked what I would like to order.
After being dismayed by the unavailability of the ribs, I settled on the beef bulgogi plate (the most popular option, I was told) with a side of black beans and kimchi, which is pickled spicy cabbage. Bulgogi is marinated grilled beef (chicken and pork are also available with both spicy and 911 spicy varieties) and is served on a bed of white rice.
Once seated, I took in my surroundings, noting a theme of international cities (most prominently New York and London) with framed photos and paintings. The entire room was also markedly green with the walls and chairs having a key lime shade. Drinks (I just had water) were available from a soda fountain or counter-top cooler, filled with soda and juice, next to the register.
The food was brought in a to-go container, even though I was dining in. It eschewed presentation for utility, which, in the world of barbecue restaurants, works best. Upon opening the box, I was greeted to a great pile of the main dish and even more rice. The sides were more moderately sized but all was much more than I could have wanted in one sitting (hence the usefulness of the to-go container).
After electing a fork over chopsticks, I regretted not accepting the slower pace of the wooden sticks as I could hardly resist attempting to finish my plate in a few cheek-filling scoops. The bulgogi was unbelievably tender and full of flavor with every bite. The rice was not too dry or soft and complemented the beef. Both were even better after adding a touch of Sriracha for a spicy kick. The black beans offered excellent taste and consistency. The kimchi could have been a bit spicier but still offered a great aromatic flavor.
While my plate came in at $10.81 with taxes, I still had enough food left over for at least one more meal, which offers a great value for those, like myself, who love having enough for two meals with one order.
For a great alternative to the usual barbecue food trucks and restaurants across the city, Big Bowl Korean BBQ offers great value in its quality and quantity. I know I’m coming back in hopes to catch those elusive ribs.
When I first walked into Korean Big Bowl Bar-B-Que, I saw green and more green; lime green to be exact. There were no friendly smells of smoked meat that usually greet someone at a barbecue place, but the man who stood alone behind an extremely bare white counter greeted me with a very sincere nod. If I were to describe my first impression in one word, it would be “neat.” That word is an understatement.
The walls are lined with labeled containers, condiments are in straight lines, and the menu (located on a flat-screen TV) is an efficient alternative to the normal paper menu. I want to say it’s modern, but it really is not. It is just really neat.
There were several options for what to order, most of which are meat, and about eight different sides. I ordered the pork bulgogi, a seasoned sliced pork dish over white rice, and kim chi and black beans. It came out to $9.47, which initially I thought was a little steep, but just the sheer amount I received made me feel like a bandit.
My food came in a white to-go box, which honestly was a little odd since I planned to stay, but $10 does not buy presentation. However, it did buy really good food. I mean, this place is awesome. The meat was tender, and the magic that had to be done to have the smoky flavor without the scent in the restaurant is beyond modern technology. I am not a fan of kim chi, because it scares me, but I found it edible. For me, edible kim chi is amazing kim chi. The black beans … well they were black beans. Overall, I would rate this place four-fifths of a Korean Big Bowl Bar-B-Que, which is about how much of your food is left after eating a normal dinner portion. After I finish my next four meals, I plan on coming back and buying more. I might go crazy and buy two orders, to feed the rest of Corpus Christi.