Grilling this summer at Star BBQ: Food and drink: Smile politely

In a Savoy mall is a building emblazoned with the words “Star BBQ” and “Sushi”. That’s really all it takes to get my attention: bold food words. I’m in.





The exterior of Star BBQ says Photo by Caitlin Aylmer.

After entering through the double doors, the open dining room stretched out before me. The kitchen and a vestigial sushi bar were tucked away in the back. Many large, comfortable cabins were neatly arranged in three rows. The arrangement did a fantastic job of creating an intimate but not claustrophobic vibe.

In order to use the circular gas grills at each of the tables, two or more items for the barbecue section must be ordered. Otherwise, the selected starter can be prepared by the kitchen. I knew I wanted the Korean BBQ experience, but I don’t eat meat, so I enlisted my husband and daughter’s help with this expedition.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

For our inaugural order, we opted for samgyeopsal pork belly ($26.99), saeng deungsim premium beef ribeye ($38.99), tteokbokki ($14.99) and kim mal yi fried seaweed rolls ($5.99).

Our orders came in quick succession.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

Kim mal yi was quickly devoured by my guests and me, living up to all expectations. It was crunchy tempura wrapping salty, salty nori wrapped around springy noodles; What’s not to like? It’s one of Daughter’s favorite appetizers, and judging by how quickly she consumed them, they’re outstanding.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

Tteokbokki has climbed my personal list of favorite comfort foods in recent years, and I’ve been very pleased with Star BBQ’s rendition. The rice cakes were perfectly plump and the sauce nailed the spicy and sweet balance. Once the hard-boiled egg yolk was mixed into the sauce, it added an irresistible velvety richness.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

Then there was the all-important banchan, or small side dishes served with the order. I’ll be honest: that’s what I was there for. Banchan is meant to complement the flavors of grilled meat, but they are absolutely delicious on their own. The lineup will be slightly different at each location, and I was excited to find out what the selection was here.

We were first given garden salads with a creamy dressing. It was rich without being too heavy, and I thought it provided a nice contrast to the gochujang-based tteokbokki sauce. The main banchan consisted of fish cakes, seasoned bean sprouts, pickled radish, sesame broccoli, potato salad and kimchi. All were tasty and paired well with the dishes ordered, but the two stars of this range for me were the potato salad and the kimchi. The kimchi was perfectly punchy. The soggy cabbage had just the right amount of structure. I finished a portion myself with just rice. Our lovely host offered to bring us as much as we wanted and confirmed it was done by them in-house. One day I will have to get his recipe.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

As I made my way through the banchan, our hostess set up our grill. The blue flame ignited beneath the removable metal cooking surface, which she generously coated with butter. The girl was captivated. The husband clicked on the tiny clamps provided to us. There’s nowhere else either would rather be right now.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

The ribeye was first on the cooktop, sizzling in the melted butter. There were three other tables cooking at the same time as us, and not a hint of smoke in the air. I was impressed with their HVAC system. Husband said the first piece was slightly overcooked, but he was able to adjust his method to the second. Her daughter was so taken with this interactive dinner that she ate almost an entire rib eye herself.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

Everyone was pretty full by the time we put the pork belly on the grill, so we took advantage of the time to relax while it cooked. I insisted on tasting the pork belly straight off the grill. He deserved a double thumbs up. Also, considering how quickly it was eaten with breakfast the next morning, it keeps very well as leftovers.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

The service we had was simply spectacular. My six-year-old daughter insisted on bringing a stuffed caterpillar she had made at camp that day as a table companion. Our charming hostess not only listened (in detail) to the story of the creation of this caterpillar, but she also asked follow-up questions. This level of consideration alone is worthy of sanctity in my opinion. She then brought extra butter, so kiddo could have her own side of soy butter rice, and warmly answered my own myriad questions. Outstanding hospitality and delicious food have already brought us back for a second visit.

Photo by Cailtlin Aylmer.

Korean BBQ is supposed to be a communal affair, and portion sizes were consistent with that. We not only left happily full but with leftovers. Personally, I see this as a win-win. If you’re averse to leftovers, be sure to bring your friends or family as using the grill is truly a highlight you’ll want to share. In fact, our hostess mentioned that their late hours and proximity to the Savoy cinema make them a popular dinner option for groups coming from the cinema.

I highly recommend sitting in one of the booths along the walls if available. The high partitions between each section create cozy alcoves perfect for chatting, grilling, eating and letting the rest of the world fade away for a few hours.

Star BBQ
1209 Savoy Plaza Ln
Savoy
D-Th 4 p.m. to midnight
F-Sun noon to midnight

Top image by Caitlin Aylmer.

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