356 Korean BBQ & Bar Opens In San Diego

June 7, 2017: updated review.

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Everyone, please meat 356 Korean BBQ & Bar! Their soft opening was Monday, August 15, 2016 and their Grand Opening will happen in about two weeks (a little birdie told me September 1).

Cleveland and I arrived early and didn’t hesitate when they offered us a seat at the bar while waiting. Our sweet bartender with a less-than-innocent name, Sapphire, offered up the bar menu which contain items only available there, except for the spicy pork ribs.

356 Bar Menu

Olive and Shades arrive shortly after and we didn’t wait long to get started. Olive wanted me to have the best photos for the first blog post about this place, so she brought a DSLR and snapped away. Isn’t she cute? Another reason why I love her.

Olive the Photographer

I don’t know how I feel about the seating, but it definitely caught my attention. They use denism and jean bottoms to pad them. Do they make me look skinny by sitting on skinny jeans?

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Our server, DK, like Donkey Kong, but instead of throwing barrels, will cook for you. We asked him for the largest combo (10 cuts), all the sides, and the minute our banchan arrived, we never looked back. Below you’ll see the soft opening menu, but I’m not sure how much of it will change after the grand opening.

Already, I love the place because they brought out 12… TWELVE… banchan dishes. Yes, that IS dukbokki you see below! Below that, you can see our whole spread. Notable banchan: sausage and egg patties, gobo (burdock root), and did I say dukbokki?

356 Banchan

356 Table Spread with Banchan

The first to arrive were the Spicy Pork Ribs (4 pcs.), which are the only items that come already cooked. I thought they were good, but nothing exceptional; however, I do love the added touch of almond slivers with the crunch making a nice and subtle difference.

356 Spicy Pork Ribs

Then, what we were all waiting for… the meats! From top to bottom: jumalook, beef belly, brisket, pork jowl, pork shoulder, pork belly, finger meat, and ribeye.

356 Prime Combo 4

DK saw the hunger in our eyes and tossed on the brisket, which, by the way, is only available in this combo and a la carte. Smart.

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I had several favorite parts of the meal, one being how they scored the thick cut pork belly, a nice touch, indeed!

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Second favorite? The sauce dish, especially the dry herbs (garlic, salt, pepper, and…?). It went well with EVERYTHING, and just a few crystals will provide all the flavor; otherwise, it would be too overpowering and salty. Dip gingerly and at your own risk.

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My third favorite part of the meal was the cheese fondue. YES! They give you a ramekin of cheese to melt down atop the grill while your meats are cooking away. It goes best with beef and it’s glorious making me wonder where it’s been all my life. The second photo is of a cheesy ribeye, worth it!

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Halfway through the meal, they switch to a different kind of grill, which I’ve only seen at Gyu-kaku for their s’mores dish, and at the very end, they put the bulgogi, already on its own mesh grill, atop the new grill. Nice presentation.

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Here are photos of the rest of our meal for those interested.

Any other tips and tricks for the lay of the land?

Yes! Straight from Olive herself (and some from me):

  • They won’t typically cook for you, especially when they’re slammed, but if you look clueless, they’ll lend a hand. *hint hint*
  • Order the fondue first so it can start melting before your meat comes.
  • The fondue goes best with beef, not pork.
  • The egg custard refers to the steamed egg. Don’t make my mistake and look forward to dessert.
  • They DO have sesame oil and soy bean paste, but DO NOT have rice paper, mookeunji, or radish paper. Instead of radish paper, they have julienne radish.
  • For your first time, go with five and have a drink. You’ll thank us later.
  • The 356 refers to the perfect temperature (°F) for cooking meat.
  • Prime Combo 4 is perfect for a group of four; we were pretty full, but not uncomfortable. If you order more sides and/or drinks, a party of five can still eat to their content.
  • For those who heard this was affiliated with Quarters in LA, what really happened was that they had a name similar, but were asked specifically to change it and now we have 356.

Tl:dr: It’s a spacious venue, trendy, perfect for its corner mall location, catering, visually, to American palates (nothing exotic was on the menu like intestines, etc.), the flavor is very much Korean. Service was great, but it was slow, so we’ll see when they get slammed. I would definitely come back, so check it out!

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