Korean barbecue is great for those into long strips of marinated meat, but the downside is that you’re often left reeking of meat and smoke. Kristalbelli, owned by Korean pop mogul Park Jin-Young of JYP Entertainment, is changing all of that with grills made with 99.9 percent natural crystal slabs.
The science is this: Crystal evenly distributes the heat, and it cooks meat two to three times faster compared to traditional stainless or metal grills. Embedded in a Buddha’s belly, the roaster is equipped with a downdraft system that quickly drags in all the smoke downward before it has the chance to stain the atmosphere with smoke.
You can taste the difference, too. At other Korean barbecue joints, residue meat unfortunate enough to be picked up last always ends up tasting a little bit burned and stringy. At Kristalbelli, the meat retains its juiciness and cooks faster.
I went with a plus one and ordered one serving (7 ounces for $43) of galbi, Mool Neangmyun (buckwheat noodles served in cold beef broth), and this amazing drink called Yuja Makgeolii (Korean rice wine and citrus juice).
The galbi was clearly the highlight of the meal. It’s grilled by the server and put on a lettuce leaf afterwards to prevent the meat from burning. It also comes with a side of salt imported straight from Korea, which is great for dipping.
The meal was sufficient for us, but we could have done with another serving of meat or another side dish. For a comfortable meal, the tab will probably come out to about $70 to $80 per person. But you get what you pay for: We left the premises without the faintest smell of smoke.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 18, 2012