Experience Korean culture at home

Posted April 30, 2021


QINGDAO, China — As Korean drama becomes famous worldwide, Korean cuisine is also becoming well-known to global audiences. In Korean drama, there are always many different Korean dishes place on one table during mealtime, so audiences might often wonder about the tastes of each dish.

TangMen BBQ’s tteokbokki dish (Photos by Summer Xia).

Furthermore, Korean cuisine always looks so mouth-watering that sometimes it’s not the plot that keeps people watching the show, but the food that appeared on the show.

Since Korea is close to the eastern portions of China, Chinese people are more influenced by Korean culture than Westerners. Specifically, the flight from Seoul to Beijing is about two hours and it only takes about 90 minutes from Seoul to Qingdao.

Therefore, many Korean people work and live in Qingdao, and there are lots of Korean restaurants in Qingdao.

Furthermore, the Korean BBQ restaurant is a more specific type of Korean restaurant in Qingdao that is extremely popular.

One thing that makes Korean cuisine that recognizable is the Korean pepper sauce. It is used in almost every dish in Korean cuisine. So, Korean cuisine is spicy, but this spicy is different than Chinese Szechuan cuisine. Szechuan cuisine is peppery and spicy, but Korean cuisine is just hot and spicy.

Moreover, Korean cuisine is often rich in color as they believed it is good for health if people eat more than five different colors of food every day. Furthermore, the side dish is another distinguishable characteristic in Korean cuisine. Most side dishes are pickles made of varied vegetables. Additionally, Korean people love to use iron-made tableware, from chopsticks to the plate.

HanLu Korean BBQ’s interior seating.

To give customers a more immersive experience of Korean cuisine, most Korean BBQ restaurants in Qingdao imitate the authentic Korean style.

In a traditional BBQ restaurant in Korea, the grill plate is placed in the middle of the table, and the smoke exhaust pipe is on the top.

Additionally, the “paint bucket” style of tables and seats is also a distinguishable feature for traditional Korean BBQ restaurants. 

HanLu Korean BBQ is one of the restaurants that mimic the setting of typical BBQ restaurants in Korea. HanLu’s sits are arranged exactly like the traditional BBQ restaurant in Korea that people sit around a round table, and the distance between each table is close. Also, the seat and table are both on the paint bucket.

Tangmen Korean BBQ’s place for egg pancake and cheese corn around the grill plate.

Moreover, each character inside HanLu is in Korean. Although customers might not know the meaning of those characters, they would still feel like they are inside a restaurant in Seoul.

Posters of the most popular Korean drama, “Reply 1988,” are on the wall that also attracted many K-drama fans to come to HanLu to take pictures and eat.

Likewise, TangMen Korean BBQ also tries to bring its customers to the Korean dining environment. However, TangMen’s interior design is more like a mix of Japanese and Korean styles. It has two floors, and the second floor is Japanese tatami style that customers could sit on the floor.

Additionally, one thing that makes TangMen distinct from others is that it has a thin baking tray around the BBQ grill plate that can roast the corn cheese and egg pancake, which also are two popular side dishes of Korean BBQ.

However, some restaurants like YiC BBQ do not follow the traditional Korean design style and create their own unique brand. YiC creates a “Zila planet,” where “Zila” refers to the sound of meat grilling on the tray in Chinese.

YiC BBQ’s futurized ‘Zila planet’ look.

Also, it has a cute dinosaur that is eating a biscuit as its mascot. Moreover, the whole restaurant design is like a galaxy to emphasize that YiC is a concept of “Zila planet.”

Therefore, when customers come inside YiC, they would not feel at a Korean restaurant but an innovative and futurized planet.

Service is also another critical factor that can help customers have an impressive Korean culture experience at the restaurant. HanLu’s waiters are dressed in a uniform with only Korean characters to correspond with the other Korean characters at HanLu.

Besides, each waiter has an incredible working enthusiasm that customers would feel cared for at every moment, similar to TangMen’s servants’ working attitudes.

However, YiC’s service is a little bit more indifferent compared to the other two restaurants. The servants would respond to each customers’ requests and questions, but people would not feel their energy or enthusiasm.

TangMen’s traditional Korean bibimbap.

The traditional Korean BBQ will have about five to six side dishes that often include mashed potato, kimchi, seaweed, spicy radish, spicy cucumber salad and seasoned bean sprouts. Moreover, typical Korean dishes, such as bibimbap, tteokbokki, and doenjang jjigae, are usually available in Korean BBQ restaurants.

Both HanLu and TangMen are good at this conventional dish that provide customers the most authentic taste from Korea.

Although most Korean BBQ restaurants follow this similar pattern of dishes, they are often different in tastes. For example, traditional Korean bibimbap is made of beef, raw egg yolk, and vegetables and Korean pepper sauce.

However, YiC’s bibimbap is made of tobacco and seaweed with a different taste from traditional bibimbap. The salty taste of the tobacco and the seaweed’s crispy mixed with rice’s soft and sweet taste create an unusual but delicious taste for customers.

Similarly, the tteokbokki at YiC is in heavy cheese and different vegetables rather than Korean pepper sauce. Also, the tteokbokki itself has cheese inside. So, each bite would be heaven for cheese-lovers. Moreover, the vegetable can also help customers avoid oily and greasy feelings after overeating cheese.  Furthermore, there are only two side dishes at YiC, one is spicy seaweed salad, and the other is seasoned bean sprouts.

YiC BBQ’s sliced pork dish.

Even though TangMen follows the traditional cooking styles for all the Korean dishes, the way to order is different than others. It only offers combos that contain different types of meat, vegetables, side dishes, and main dishes.

Because of the combo, the average price of TangMen is lower than typical Korean BBQ restaurants. For example, the most popular combo for two people at TangMen costs ¥138 ($21) in total and ¥69 ($10) per person.

The taste of BBQ is an essential factor that represents the quality of Korean restaurants. Similarly, most Korean restaurants offer the same options for the grill with the side dishes and other Korean main dishes.

The most popular grill food would be the sliced beef and sliced pork. Both TangMen and HanLu have high-quality beef and sliced pork, especially sliced pork. Although the pork is not seasoned, its meat is very tender, and the oil from the meat creates a toasty taste that is not greasy. However, YiC’s pork is difficult to chew after it is grilled.

YiC BBQ’s black pepper chicken dish.

Furthermore, Korean sausage is another popular grill option for BBQ. It is a mouth-watering and finger-flicking food with a tender and meaty taste. YiC has the grill option for chicken, and it has two seasoning flavors.

One is in zanthoxylum armatum, and the other is in black pepper. Both flavors’ chicken is well-seasoned, and the meat is juicy.

Korean BBQ restaurants are a relatively popular type of cuisine in China, especially in Qingdao and Shandong Province, and each restaurant varies in its design and food tastes based on a similar overall pattern.

Like Korean BBQ restaurants in many U.S. cities, all Korean BBQ restaurants in Qingdao are table grill.

In terms of each restaurant mentioned in this review, YiC is more focused on innovative Korean cuisines. HanLu tries to provide an immersive dining experience, and TangMen offers tasty food at great deals.


·     Address: No. 116 Yanji Road, Qingdao, Shandong Province, China.

·     Phone: +86 0532-809666889

·     Recommended Dishes: tobiko bibimbap, black paper chicken, beef slice, cheese tteokbokki ¥30 – ¥80 ($5 – $12).

·     Price: $ (inexpensive)

·     Open: Daily for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

·     Reservations: Not Accepted.

·     Reviewer Rating: 3.5 out 5 stars.

HanLu Korean BBQ

·     Address: No. 91 Liaoyuan Road, Qingdao, Shandong Province, China.

·     Phone: +86 15621140065

·     Recommended Dishes: beef slice, pork slice, beef steak, Korean sausage, seasoning squid ¥40 – ¥90 ($4 – $13).

·     Price: $$$ (expensive).

·     Open: Daily for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

·     Reservations: Accepted.

·     Reviewer Rating: 4.5 out 5 stars.

TangMen Korean BBQ

·     Address: No. 45 Jiushui Road, Qingdao, Shandong Province, China.

·     Phone: +86 0532-86777076

·     Recommended Dishes: TangMen bibimbap, beef Slice, doenjang jjigae ¥28 – ¥68 ($4 – $10).

·     Price: $ (inexpensive).

·     Open: Daily for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

·     Reservations: Accepted.

·     Reviewer Rating: 4 out 5 stars.