Gen Korean BBQ, opened in Tempe Marketplace in mid-September, is the first Gen Korean BBQ outlet to open in Arizona. The popular chain has 22 locations in California, Nevada, Texas, and Hawaii.
This sleek, contemporary restaurant serves Korean classics like beef bulgogi (thinly sliced beef marinated in a sweet sauce), joomulluk (short steak marinated in sesame oil), and spicy pork bulgogi. Savory dishes in soy or fish-based marinades highlight the menu and feature chicken, shrimp, and calamari. The daring can opt for baby octopus or daechang (cow intestine).
And get this: The menu is all-you-can eat.
Korean barbecue is having a moment. What Korean barbecue means is cooking seasoned, marinated meats over gas or charcoal grills. At Gen Korean BBQ, guests get to prepare their own meats over a circular stove set in the center of the table, making for a truly hands-on dining experience.
Rice, salad and other sides are included. Beware: there’s a five dollar charge for every dish you order and don’t finish. There’s also a two hour time limit once you’ve been seated. Meaning you can't park for five hours and expect infinite food all night.
Customers can sip soju, a light alcoholic beverage made from rice, barley or wheat. Soju comes in flavors like green apple, lychee, and Mai Tai. There’s also sake, red and white wines, draft beers, and tea options including Japanese hot genmaicha (green tea brewed with roasted brown rice). And for dessert, try the multi-colored macaron ice cream.
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The ambience at Gen is lively and chic, with cool, blue lights illuminating the space. Rows of spacious booths flank either side of the restaurant, with a bar on the back wall.
Another crucial note: while the all-you-can-eat has separate lunch ($15.99) and dinner ($24.99) prices, just the dinner price is offered on weekends.
Gen Korean BBQ. 2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy. #1056, Tempe; 480-939-2650
Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight.