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Gen Korean BBQ is a small all-you-can-eat KBB chain that recently opened its first location in San Diego. The restaurant is within the busy Edwards Theater plaza off Mira Mesa Blvd and I-15 so there's a constant flow of customers in the evenings. The price of $24.99 is slightly below the other KBBQ spots around town plus it offers over 35 menu items. We've visited twice for dinner since it opened. As far as I know, only Manna Korean BBQ and Roadem BBQ are lower priced but do have limited menus.
First Visit with Friends
Around 8:30pm on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, our friend secured our table with the hostess, who estimated a 1 hour wait. We weren't actually seated until 10pm due to two friends arriving late. The whole party HAS to be present before being seated! Luckily, it was enough to use the full 2-hour limit, should we need it!
Inside, the neon lights and music jamming seemed almost like a nightclub environment with asian clientale. Our group of six was seated at a table along the right wall and shared a single grill in the middle. The friendly wait staff informed us that we would be allowed to order four plates at a time, not including pre-cooked items such as the fried chicken or dumplings. Each person had a dipping tray with three compartments. Staff came by to add sesame oil to the middle section (if desired) which created a dipping sauce.
Beef Tongue - Premium Beef Tongue
After putting in our order, food came out within a few minutes. One of our favorites was the beef tongue but it came out as four razor thin slices. We tried a double order as well but it still came on two separate plates (for accounting purposes per staff). At least this meat tasted delicious when cooked just enough.
Gen Signature Galbi - Marinated Bone in Short Rib
Another favorite was the short rib. These were pre-marinaded and cooked up juicy and fatty.
Since friends were visiting from out of town, we took very few pictures plus the lighting is difficult for photographs. The grills on this visit were hot but only stuck when cooking marinaded items. Throughout the night the grill was conveniently changed 4-5 times. We were also delighted to see Ron (from the now-closed Pizzanometry), now a manager here.
Second visit with Family
On the next visit, we celebrated Dennis's dad's 65th birthday with a larger party of 10 including kids. The four year old nephew was tall enough for the kids price ($9.99) while little brother Robin was in the 'adult' range (over 40" i think?). Full price for this middle schooler! This size group needed one of the big tables in the back left and we had two grills!
Premium Chadol - thinly sliced Beef Brisket
Every round or two, the grills had to be changed out because of how quickly the burn residue built up. There was no oil or anything keep it from sticking and I heard this grill was different from the previous teflon grill from our first visit. The chadol stubbornly stuck to the grill and was difficult to flip without breaking. Leaving several pieces stuck together on the grill made my life a little easier.
Once again, the galbi short ribs were some of our favorites, easy to cook on this super hot grills and harder to mess up.
Shrimp - Head-on Raw Shrimp
There's a good number of shrimp that are in each order!
Garlic Chicken - marinated chicken with jalapeno cheese fondue
There were also several versions of pork belly, some flavored pork and chicken. The menu also had jap chae noodles and chicken with cheese (saw on Faye's post). You put these directly on the grill and it heats and bubbles up like fondue which was a fun spin.
We also tried to cook the octopus (not sure who ordered it) but it was super tough with too much spicy sauce. I'm just going to leave octopus to the pros... Family on the left side were cooking meat well done so I actually preferred Dennis's side, more tender when taken off earlier. Make sure to eat with people who like meat cooked the way you like it!
There were different flavor of pork bellies. These took a little longer to cook but just weren't as crispy due to the thickness.
Gen Premium Steak - Premium Top Sirloin Steak
This premium steak was a little chewy but it's difficult to get right since you are your own chef. Or you have to cut meat ahead of time. I wish they had a guide of how long to cook each meat like at Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ.
Banchan and Non-Grilled Food
Items that were set onto our table automatically included the set of side dishes (banchan) and the salad. One of the banchan I really liked, a sort of potato salad gritty texture but cool with a corn kernal sweetness to it. I said sorry as I ate ALL of the potato salad item. The typical fish cakes were another option, followed by kim chi and maybe one more pickled item. We were surprised there were only four total. A salad bowl was passed around that had a light dressing, which reminded me of a lighter fish sauce inspired sauce.
Gyoza - Lightly Fried Dumplings
We ordered several appetizers, which do not have a limit on orders (don't count as "meat"). These dumplings were deep fried so had a bit of crunchy shell to them. Not too bad, coming with 6 or 8 per order (unless it was doubled for our larger group). Other fried options were chicken: the basic one had a fine crisp but the spicy one was passed around to the heavy spice hitters.
To eat with your meat, you can choose rice paper (thicker like what you'd find in thai pad see ew) or rice. We enjoy tasting japchae at various korean spots; this version was simply sesame flavored noodles.
Similar to other korean restaurants, there's only a beer license so sojui drinks are the base of mixed drinks. We noticed another table had adult Capri Suns, a giant ziplock bag of mixed drink with a lighted ice cube for $8.99. For our table, there was a shared pitcher of mango mojito while birthday pop got the strawberry margarita. He didn't realize it was soju and was wondering why it tasted different!
Desserts aren't included but if you have some room for that, maybe you didn't have enough meat haha. Some complaints is that the fans don't seem to pull the smoke away and with the current grills on there, it burned so quickly causing tons of smoke to blow into our faces. Still, I think the price and quality will keep this place as packed as Manna and the parking lot is much easier than Convoy. One day we'll try lunch here which is under $20 with a smaller menu.
Gen Korean BBQ
10765 Westview Pkwy
San Diego CA 92126