BEST BARBECUE Miami 2005 - Kyung Ju Restaurant
North Miami Beach
305-947-3838 People began barbecuing large pieces of meat over open fires some 27,000 years ago, which strongly suggests that Americans didn't invent the practice. (Warning: Do not repeat this in the presence of any Texan who is bigger than you.) Tip o' the cowboy hat to the Pit, Peoples, Bar-B-Q Barn, and Shorty's, all of which serve satisfying portions of wood-smoked chicken and ribs, plates of steaming baked beans, and bowls of creamy coleslaw in their own inimitable ways. But Kyung Ju offers Korean-style barbecue called bulgogi, which won't wean you off your hunger for hickory but might just turn you on to a whole new concept of what can be done with a grill. In fact you'll become quite acquainted with the cooking process itself, as an order of, say, sweet-and-sesame marinated short ribs comes to the table accompanied by a small hibachi-style grill. It's a charming way to get you to prepare your own dinner, and if your sliced rib-eye beef or chicken thigh comes out overdone, you've no one to blame but yourself. It's fun, it's different, it's as inexpensive as regular barbecue, and it's delicious. Plus instead of beans on the side, you can try some spicy pickled kimchi, a scallion-studded egg pancake called pa jun, or any number of adeptly prepared Korean specialties.