Boo-Il Galbi is one of Chicago’s last great Korean barbecue joints | Bleader

Monday, June 13, 2016

Boo-Il Galbi is one of Chicago’s last great Korean barbecue joints

Posted By on 06.13.16 at 03:06 PM

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Reign in fat.

A video posted by @mikesula on


I know I've whinged quite a bit over the years about the declining quality in Korean restaurants in the city over the years, largely in part due to the slow evacuation of Koreatown's inhabitants for the suburbs. I should qualify that by saying it ignores all the interesting next-gen activity that's happening in other parts of the city (Parachute, Kimski), and even the resurrection of old favorites like Han Bat (more on that later). It is true, however, that with the exception of Gogi, the barbecue scene has been rather moribund, with most folks settling for the—yes, I'll say it—mediocre, late-night comforts of San Soo Gab San. (Admit it, you only go there when you're drunk.)  

click to enlarge Pajeon, Boo Il Galbi - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Pajeon, Boo Il Galbi

But still, some little fires keep burning. Boo-Il Galbi has been quietly doing live-charcoal barbecue for years in the shadow of bigger players like SSGS and the late, great Hae Woon Dae. It certainly doesn't call attention to itself on the sleepy stretch of Bryn Mawr that only seems to come to life during the Korean Festival every August.

Boo-Il Galbi serves the usual assortment of banchan-supplemented soups, noodles, and casseroles, but the real attraction is the barbecue, particularly the house specialty saeng kalbi, or boneless, unmarinated short rib. This is special-occasion barbecue. For unknown reasons the house requires you to order two at time at market price, which turns out to be over $30 apiece. But it's extraordinarily well marbled, and when it hits the grill, its pristine white fat showers the coals like a summer storm. Add bean paste, sesame oil, and wrap it in a lettuce leaf, and you'll be wolfing it down before some bigger, stronger animal can snatch it away from you.

click to enlarge Boo Il Galbi - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Boo Il Galbi

Boo-Il Galbi, 3346 W. Bryn Mawr, 773-588-3112

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