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Get Your Grill On At San Soo Gab San

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Jun 8, 2012 6:00PM

Where there’s smoke, there’s Korean barbecue, at least at Lincoln Square’s San Soo Gab San, where visibility wanes as carnivorous pleasure surges. It’s grilling gone rogue, and we like it ever so much more than flipping hamburgers in the back yard. The restaurant’s decor and service are both of the Spartan, we-could-care-less variety, but it’s not for fringe benefits that you cross this particular threshold. You’re here to play with fire, pure and simple, at your own risk and your own table.

The Wild West of meat preparation, San Soo Gab San packs an unapologetic protein punch. A vegetarian could technically eat here and dine daintily on sashimi and miso soup, but this would be like buying nothing more than bottled water from an ice cream truck. You’d be flouting the food gods and missing the point. (But you should try the miso soup anyway.)

Even so, prepare to talk down (possibly forcefully contradict) the volume of galbi your server brusquely recommends. We found that three entrees—short ribs, chicken, and beef, all going for around $20 a piece—sufficed for five modestly ravenous adults, so no need to do an epicurean nosedive. And don’t be surprised when your tabletop begins seemingly populating itself with dozens of tiny side dishes within milliseconds of placing your order. Bounty is, after all, the only law of the land here. Whether it’s quality pre-marinated meat, indeterminable and multiplying side dishes, intimacy with fire, or freedom to unleash Salmonella poisoning, San Soo Gab San is all about unrestricted access.

So if you feel like putting your Hephaestan power to the taste test, grill indoors for a change and send up some serious smoke signals that would throw your fire alarm at home into cardiac arrest. Unless you actually burst into flame, chances are that no one here will take a second glance at you or your cindered short ribs.

San Soo Gab San is located at 5247 N Western Ave.