Mongtan In Itaewon: Where You'll Taste The Best KBBQ In Seoul

Our review of Mongtan, a quality barbecue restaurant in Samgakji/Itaewon! It's delicious, but is it worth the long wait and hundreds of calls?

2 years ago

Did you know that some restaurants have strange dining requirements because of their own quality requirements?

One of these restaurants "Mongtan," specializing in udae galbi (large beef ribs), is located in front of Samgakji Station in Itaewon.

You can make a reservation by phone only on the 1st of every month starting at 10:30 for groups of 6 or more.

Smaller groups will queue on site which is open only until 4 p.m.

Our group of 6 each made around 100 calls to land a reservation at Mongtan and here's our dining experience!

Exterior appearance of Mongtan is in an old colonial style that was once common in Korea

Located around Itaewon in front of Exit 8 of Samgakji Station, is the restaurant Mongtan.

The style of the building reminds us of the old colonial style that was once common in Korea.

Mongtan is is a very popular restaurant for local Koreans due to the delicious quality of the food and due to this, it's extremely difficult to confirm a reservation.

Sign outside of the restaurant for the waiting queue

As mentioned above, on-site queue is ope until 4pm but this sign, indicating the waitlist is full, may go up earlier depending on the number of waiting guests on the day.

Cuts of meat on display in the entrance of the restaurant. They are kept in refrigerators

When you first enter Mongtan, you'll notice the interior is made of brick and wood, similar to the exterior.

You may want to take pictures of the restaurant's style but it could be difficult because of how many people dine here.

Here is their Instagram for reference.

The kitchen of the restaurant is open for diners to see

As you walk through the restaurant to your table, you can see the different cuts of meat in the refrigerators on display.

After ordering, a chef will prepare the meat and cook it at your table over charcoal and straw.

The charcoal and meat scent fills the entire restaurant, making this one of its most defining qualities.

Side dishes called bonchon include a variety of vegetables, sauces, herring roe, and wasabi

Traditional pot to cook with on the lid. Garlic and green onions are put on top to grill.

When the side dishes are on the table, the chef will prepare the barbecue tools.

What's more special is that the Itaewon restaurant "Mongtan" uses traditional pot lids (솥뚜껑).

It has been a long time since we have eaten grilled meat prepared in this style. 

It feels a unique, just like the utensils that appear in historical dramas.

The chef also puts the garlic and green onions on top of the pot lid which acts as a grill with the intense heat.

The galbi / beef ribs is brought to the table on top of straw and charcoal where it is cooking.

Udae Galbi (우대갈비)
28,000 won / portion

Before serving, the meat is first seared over charcoal and straw to give it a smoky herbal aroma and flavor.

The first piece of meat that was served was the large beef ribs.

The thick portion of 250g was really impressive which instantly reminded us about the not so cheap price.

It was already smoked in the meat processing cabinet before being brought to our table and onto the charcoal and straw.

When it was ready to be served, the staff moved it to the lid of the pot. Seeing it picked up was quite a sight to see!

The restaurant staff helped us cut the meat and cleanly removed the huge rib bone. 

Now we were able to see how fresh the meat was with the bright red color on the inside now visible.

The meat is grilled a little longer on top of the lid of the pot until it becomes slightly charred and fragrant. 

Feel free to move the meat to the side to taste it.

But if you are unsure if is ready to eat, you can ask a restaurant staff member and they will be happy to help you.

The meat / galbi / beef ribs is moved to the side on top of the bone when it is done cooking for presentation.

I'm craving these ribs just by looking at the pictures! 

Are you getting hungry too?

Galbi / meat / beef ribs held by chopsticks with herring roe

The side dishes include include a small serving of herring roe that is recommended to eat with the meat in one bite.

I thought it would be too fishy but it was pleasantly delicious.

The light umami flavor from the roe combined with the rich flavor and aroma of the ribs truly makes the ultimate bite, just like the restaurant suggested.

meat / galbi / beef ribs dipped in sauce and wasabi in between chopsticks

It's okay though if you don't want to try the ribs with the herring roe.

The flavor of the ribs alone is enough to satisfy anyone.

You may also dip the meat into some common sauces or wasabi.

I highly recommend the wasabi because subtle hint of spice goes very well with the meat's flavor.

Bibim Naengmyeon (비빔냉면)
8,000 won

If you don't think the meat alone is enough, I recommend you order the bibim naengmyeon.

Naengmyeon often goes with Korean barbeque because locals enjoy the delicious combination of hot and cold temperatures and textures.

Straw Fire Samgyeopsal (짚불삼겹살)
15,000 won / portion

If you would like more meat, you can always order the pork belly which will be roasted over the straw fire.

You will be hungry again after seeing the beautiful color of the pork belly at Mongtan.

Compared to the chewiness of the ribs from earlier, it is softer and more lean.

It is also not very greasy, making this cut of meat more enjoyable to eat compared to others.

Fried rice in a bowl with toppings is brought to the table

Onion Fried Rice (양파볶음밥)
5,000 won

The last thing that is a must-order when eating barbecue is the fried rice.

The portion may look small but I promise it is enough to satisfy you but also may make you hungry all over again due to its crisp, burnt aroma it creates.

Fried rice with meat is cooking on the traditional lid of the pot which acts as a grill

Fried rice and meat continue to cook on top of the lid of the traditional lid of the pot which acts as a grill

The rice absorbs the fatty, rich flavor from the meat, just further enhancing the quality of your next bite!

a spoonful of fried rice

So was it worth the 400 calls we made?

Yes, 400 times, yes!

Seoul is not definitely short when it comes to KBBQ options, but the exquisite taste and premium quality of meats at Mongtan are something else.

We would definitely recommend it to anyone craving for delectable, meaty barbecue in the city.


Address: 서울 용산구 백범로99길 50
50, Baekbeom-ro 99-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

Hours: 12:00-21:00

On-site Waiting Queue: 12:00-16:00

Public Transportation: Samgakji Station Exit 8

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