Korean Barbecue in Buenos Aires – Who Knew?

Almost everyone knows about Buenos Aires’ Chinatown (check out Palitos for some of the best Chinese food in Buenos Aires), but do you know that Buenos Aires also has a Koreatown?

Smaller than its Chinatown counterpart, Koreatown is further off the beaten path and less well known.  From Wikipedia:

Buenos Aires’s ‘Barrio Coreano’ is in the neighborhood of Flores, specifically in the south of this neighborhood. The primary artery of the district is Carabobo Avenue, which houses various Korean businesses and organizations, including restaurants, beauty salons, a Korean school (Instituto Coreano Argentino) and churches, among others. In recent years, there has been a huge move from the Bajo Flores towards the Avellaneda Avenue, the reason being the increasing theft and insecurity around the slums close to Av. Castanares. What some might call these days, “The New Koreatown,” has been increasing in size at a faster rate while the shops in Av. Carabobo have been closing.  There are over 22,000 Koreans in Argentina, most of them in Buenos Aires, where the Asian population is around 2.5%.

Luckily, last Friday night, we were let in on the secret of Koreatown and Korean barbecue when we were invited by Kristin to take part in what she called “one of the best deals in Buenos Aires.”

No one seems to know the name of the restaurant, with the sign written only in Korean, at Av. Carabobo 1575, but once you climb the dingy stairs and pass through the security gate, you’re greeted with an authentic Korean barbecue experience. Immediately as you sit down, the food starts coming fast and furious.  These were probably the hardest working waiters I have ever seen in Buenos Aires and they didn’t stop moving the entire time we were there.

The all-you-can-eat smorgasbord includes kimchi (cabbage and tripe), oysters, seaweed, noodles, tofu, soup, a full cooked fish, egg with crab, and many other things I’d be hard pressed to name. Of course, it also includes a plate of raw beef, pork, shrimp and octopus that you grill on your table-top barbecue.  The food was spicy and flavorful, with the clear winner amongst all our friends being the spicy pork.

The cost of this meal? $60 pesos per person and $10 pesos for a liter of Quilmes. We left completely stuffed and satisfied, having had both seafood and spice – two rare treats in Buenos Aires.

After dinner, our group headed across the street to the “Chess Club” to reserve a private room for karaoke. Unfortunately, we were way too full and tired, so we headed home. But, don’t worry, we’ll definitely be back.