Neighborhood Joints

Gabose's Korean Barbecue: Asian Food South Florida Needs

The experience of Korean barbecue is distinct. And

Gabose, of Lauderhill, is the only Korean restaurant in Broward, or

Miami-Dade County, that affords its guests the opportunity to cook

their own food over a charcoal grill.

Gabose was started ten years ago.

Current owners Fred Kim and wife Susan took over Gabose from her

parents three years ago. Her mother, Eun Suk Hong, still works in the

kitchen. And most of the time, that's where you'll find Susan while

Fred is working the front of house and talking to guests. He says they rely upon word of mouth to build clientele.

Sitting around a thick, wooden table,

with a silver lid plugging the hole in the center only stirs the

anticipation as you look around to see your neighbors grilling their shrimp over a charcoal fire. The

bulky exhaust systems are only a slight distraction from the scent of marinated strips of beef,

chicken, or pork.

The ambiance isn't overwhelming. Tiled walls, ceiling tiles and bright fluorescent lighting make for a hodgepodge look. Fred says the restaurant iis hurting as much as anywhere, but it is better off than the two Korean restaurants that closed in Miami during the past year.  "We want to expand, but don't know where and when. We don't want to split clientele. We're looking for locations, though."

The service staff is friendly, polite, accommodating, and aims to please, even waiters donlt always address tables in a timely manner.

The menu includes a litany of appetizers, ranging from $9.95 to $15.95, such as favorite Boo Choo Jun ($10.95), a traditional Korean-style pancake made with leeks. There's also Goon Mandu ($10.95), pan-fried hand-made dumplings. There are also a la carte offerings ranging from the Soon Dae ($18.95), Korean-style sausage, to Aguchim ($30.95), stir-fried monk fish with spicy sauce, vegetables, and bean sprouts.

There are two variations on the Korean barbecue experience. One can opt for the aforementioned charcoal grill. The other option is the propane-powered stove-top grill. In either instance, at least two orders must be placed for you to cook at the table. Otherwise, your plate will come out of the kitchen. But what's the fun in that? The charcoal options ($20.95 to $24.95) feature ssang galbisal gui ($24.95), boneless beef short rib with special house sauce, and shrimp gui ($25.95), among other meats including boiled beef tongue, chicken, and pork. The stove-top selections ($15.95 to $22.95) include a similar assortment of meats, but feature oingo bokum ($17.95), vegetable & squid stir-fried bean with spicy paste sauce. The orders come with a buffet of sides including pickled vegetables, kimchee potatoes, seaweed salad, and cucumbers. "We cut and marinate when you order to keep the meat fresh per order," says Fred, emphasizing that he and his staff are adamant about the attention to details paying off. "We're all about being fresh, not using MSG and preservatives."

Rounding out the menu are barbecue fish choices, which are not available to cook at the table, including jang o gui ($20.95), baked eel, and ogi gui ($21.95), Korean yellow fish. There are also noodle ($9.95 to $12.95) and rice ($11.95 to $18.95) dishes, hot pot casseroles ($36.95 to $38.95), and soups ($11.95 to $17.95).

Fred believes the obstacles for Korean barbecue in South Florida come mainly from the price of the equipment and fresh ingredients. But with a system in place that replicates Korean barbecue straight from Seoul, Fred says, "We're confident in what we do. When you do a restaurant, you have to put yourself into it. If you don't love people and food, you're not going to last."

4991 N. University Drive, Lauderhill

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