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A dish we love: Enjoy Korean barbecue, where you can grill your own dinner

Korean barbecue is one of the world's greatest meals, especially if you're a control-freak carnivore.

Have you ever realized that no one else cooks meat correctly? Korean barbecue, a feast set around a grill that's only a tongs-reach away, is what you need.

Fortunately, it is available in Buffalo, or more precisely Amherst. Woo Chon Korea House, 402 Evans Road, is not the only Korean restaurant in town, but it is the only one that will let you cook your own dinner.

The difference is worth the trip.

Here's how to enjoy a meal of Korean barbecue.

First step: Get a friend. Or at least be prepared to eat a lot. Use of a Woo Chon barbecue table use requires at least two barbecue entrees. Various cuts of beef, pork and poultry go for $22.95 (spicy pork, pork belly, chicken) to $27.95 (beef short rib, called kalbi). There's one seafood choice, butterflied teriyaki shrimp ($25.95).

On the left, bulgogi (sliced beef). On the right, kalbi (beef shorts ribs). (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Each entrée provides a platter of grillable goods, at least four side dishes called banchan, rice and soup. Banchan changes, but usually includes Napa cabbage kimchi, marinated bean sprouts, sesame broccoli and quick-pickled cucumber.

While you're trying out vegetables, someone will bring an oiled grill from the kitchen, insert it into the table, turn on the fire, and the ventilation hood overhead.

Banchan refills are gratis at Woo Chon Korea House. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Kalbi and bulgogi, sliced beef, are most popular. They're thin cuts soaked in a marinade of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and sweet fruit like Korean pear or apple. The result is meat that cooks swiftly, caramelizing as it finishes.

Bean paste is like a saltier ketchup. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Each morsel is grilled to your satisfaction on the gas-fired grate, because you're the cook. (Staffers will grill for you if you're unsure.) Wrap it up in lettuce-clad bites as the Koreans do, or just pile it on your rice and dig in. Sliced onions, garlic, mushrooms and sweet potatoes are also piled into the border of the grill to cook.

Swipe a little of the proffered bean paste on a lettuce leaf, like saltier ketchup, and roll a Korean taco. Mix and match banchan with bites of meat. (Banchan refills are gratis.) Sip some of the thin bean-sprout soup, a simple broth flavored with garlic.

However you do it, give thanks that this is one world-class meal you can enjoy for $30 a head.

Send restaurant tips to agalarneau@buffnews.com and follow @BuffaloFood on Instagram and Twitter.

Bulgogi wrapped in lettuce. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Explore international flavors at West Side Bazaar on July 18 with critic Andrew Galarneau

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