The Greatest Restaurant in the Entire World

1 Posted by - August 21, 2008 - Things We've Eaten

I need to start this post off with an apology.  Gluttons readers, I’m sorry, I’ve been holding out on you.

I’ve eaten at San Soo Gap San three times a week, for the last six months.  I’ve spent over five grand on Korean bbq in 2008.  I am not joking.  But guess what mf’s?   I regret nothing.  If anything, I want it even more.  That’s the severity of mouth boner that I have for San Soo Gap San.  Let it be known that I’m a streaky eater.  I once ate the Qdoba Poblano-Pesto Chicken Burrito 3 times a week for 4 months straight and loved every minute of it (ignoring my friend’s pleas to stop.)  But this, my friends,  is something else entirely.

Let’s start off with this litte introductory video to set the pace and give perspective.   (if you have 3d glasses, put them on now)

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Welcome back!  So as you can see, this place doesn’t fuck around.  And yes, you saw it correctly, each table is equipped with its own ultra-hot wood burning grill.  I am not sure what type of wood this is, or what type of delicious-ass forest it grows in, or what scrumptious log cabin it might have been scavenged from . . . but christ all, I freakin’ love that wood . . . nay . . . i need that wood.  (I’m confident enough with my sexuality where I can write things like that.)

Anyhoo, the way that shit works at San Soo Gap San is slightly different than at other restaurants.  For example, at a Mexican restaurant, after you order your entrée, you are often rewarded with a basket of chips and salsa to help pass the time.  At San Soo, the free chips and salsa looks like this:

unidentified deliciousness

unidentified deliciousness

This is the part of the meal where the more sheltered diners start to panic.  The average American will most likely only recognize 1 of the 25 complimentary side dishes.  (potato salad) . .and honestly after eating these items dozens of times, I still have no idea what they are called and have only the slightest guess what they are made of.  My advice to you is to taste the things identified in the image above first and then venture into no-mans land.   As for items to avoid: anything that is translucent or reminds you of Predator’s active camouflage, imo is pretty gag nasty. . . so steer clear unless you’ve lost a bet.  Please remember, this is all a dick tease.  The reason for the season is coming up next. (sorry jesus)

Lets talk about MEAT (cue the death metal):

Resist the urge to eat it raw.

Resist the urge to eat it raw.

Either one with the brown sauce.  Prepare for paradigm shift.

Either one with the brown sauce. Prepare for paradigm shift.

mysterious brown goo that makes everything better

mysterious brown goo that makes everything better

Dip the ribeye in oil for increased meat viscosity.

Dip the ribeye in oil for increased meat viscosity.

What you should order the first time you visit (in order of importance):

– Chop Chae (gummy beefy noodle dish) – *warning – this seems easy to choke on, but it is worth the risk.
– Pajun (seafood filled pancakelike disc)

Main Course:
– Large ribeye (dip in the oil)
– Kalbi (marinated short ribs, dip in the brown goo)
– Dak Kalbi (spicy chicken, dip in the brown goo)

In conclusion, San Soo Gap San is the greatest restaurant in the world.  All other restaurants are bullshit in comparison.  I love it so much.  I am gay for it.  I would marry it.


  • avatar
    Dicktits August 21, 2008 - 2:18 pm Reply

    Couldn’t agree more, are 3-way marriages legal in Chicago?? If not prepare to move over, I’m all over that shit.

  • avatar
    Darwensi August 21, 2008 - 8:31 pm Reply

    There is a reason why this man is our administrator. Ole boy is the Peanut Butter Wolf of Chicago Food Review…real recknize real.

  • avatar
    Aubrey August 23, 2008 - 3:46 pm Reply

    Dude, seriously. I one hundred percent back up what you’re saying. When I went there with you guys that changed my life, I think my mouth tasted God that day.

  • avatar
    Dan August 28, 2008 - 4:59 pm Reply

    The unidentified “black shit” truly is awesome. Awesome.

  • avatar
    yolanda August 29, 2008 - 1:52 pm Reply

    Never in my life have I read a restaurant review that made me laugh this hard.

  • avatar
    Mike August 30, 2008 - 10:34 am Reply

    I too am an unapologetic gormandizer.

    Visit my blog. We shameless promote gluttony and obesity. We are the next logical step in fat acceptance. We are about gluttony acceptance.

  • avatar
    TastyNewEngland August 30, 2008 - 3:07 pm Reply

    Am I more in awe of the amazing looking food or the me so horny soundtrack?

  • avatar
    Winker August 30, 2008 - 4:10 pm Reply

    I just crossed your site from Serious Eats.
    Your video is the BEST!
    We LOVE San Soo Gab San!
    Thanks for the great post.

  • avatar
    Ava August 30, 2008 - 9:44 pm Reply

    There’s a San Soo Gap San in Flushing, NY near me, and it IS THE SHIT! The bulgogi (marinated beef) is awesome there too. The spicy anchovies, squid and kimchi they serve on one of the many appetizer plates are pretty good too. They also have this awesome spicy raw crab thing that is probably not the most clean thing to eat but it just tastes SO GOOD!

  • avatar
    rachel August 31, 2008 - 9:51 pm Reply

    The brown stuff is made of soybeans.

  • avatar
    FatManSeoul September 1, 2008 - 6:05 am Reply

    We got yer banchan (side dishes) right here – top to bottom, left to right: eomok bokkeum (stir fried fish patties), gim parae muchim (dried marinated seaweed – we’re pretty sure that’s your awesome black shit), kongnameul muchim (or maybe bokkeum – in any case, mung bean sprouts), hobak bokkeum (stir fried zucchini), more nameul stuff (greens! would need a closer pic to identify with more certainty), miyeok cheolgi bokkeum (mixed marinated kelp), mu cheorim (daikon radish), oi kimchi (pickled cucumber), oi doraji muchim (cucumber and bellflower root . . .but we’re taking a bit of a leap here), kong cheorim (beans in marinade), and the egg disk things are probably either some kind of jeon (friend stuff) or gyeran mari (rolled omelette). Coming up next is beoseot bokkum (stir fried mushrooms), sangchu kimchi (fresh pickled lettuce), baechu kimchi(pickled cabbage), potato salad aka mayo with assorted starch and veggies, and what is either fresh doraji (bellflower root) or dried cuttlefish. It’s a little hard to tell what some of the items are, but we’re confident somebody will give us grief if we’re wrong. Finally, the brown goo is called ssamjang, and is a mix of fermented soy bean paste and seasoned pepper paste, and the oil is sesame oil. WHEW!

  • avatar

    […] Gluttons have posted what might qualify as the world’s most hilarious and hyperbolic restaurant review, covering the glory to be had at their local galbi joint, San Soo Gap San. Because we have too much […]

  • avatar
    Walstib September 1, 2008 - 8:39 am Reply

    roy said, “Anyhoo, the way that shit works at San Soo Gap San is slightly different than at other restaurants. For example, at a Mexican restaurant, after you order your entrée, you are often rewarded with a basket of chips and salsa to help pass the time. At San Soo, the free chips and salsa looks like this…”

    This the only Korean restaurant you’ve ever been to? The “chips and salsa” are panchan. All Korean BBQ places have them. How do you know San Soo is good if it is the only one you’ve tried?

  • avatar
    nola2chi September 1, 2008 - 10:44 am Reply

    don’t tell anyone!!!!!!!
    a shame since the no smoking thing they aren’t open 24-7 anymore.
    Those exhaust fans seem capable of sucking your head off your shoulders.

  • avatar
    ttoittoi September 1, 2008 - 3:04 pm Reply

    WOW, San Soo Gap San? As a Korean, I would say that it looks like totally almost authentic side dishes in Korea.

    Unfortunately, There is no San Soo Gap San’s type Korean restaurant in San Francisco, I think.

  • avatar
    Roy September 1, 2008 - 3:21 pm Reply

    Thanks a ton for that key. I’ll try to get some time and make a more accurate panchan key using your valuable data.

    I’ve been to other Korean places, and I didn’t receive the sheer number of sides as at San Soo.

    Though, even if it was my first Korean restaurant, what I am experiencing is mature carnal love for an inanimate restaurant. One cannot (and should not) try to explain this type of love.

  • avatar
    Doddie from Korea September 1, 2008 - 5:32 pm Reply


    That’s the typical order of side dishes given by most restaurants here in Korea, regardless of what you order. My hubby (also an American) loves the grilled kalbi and steak. We have yet to try that dakgalbi.

    If you want to divert a little from your favorite menu, try looking for a SalBap restaurant. You get an order of rice and all the side dishes come for free (about 20 to 25 of them). That’s right, you just pay for the rice, about $5, and get bulgogi, two kinds of fish dishes and tons of veggie side dishes. Oh, even raw marinated crab. The best SalBap restaurant is the one that serves Icheon rice.


  • avatar
    FatManSeoul September 1, 2008 - 8:41 pm Reply

    We think that #17 means “ssambap” or “wrapped rice” (we also don’t think that you’ll find imported Icheon rice stateside, or that it’s going to matter for your tasting pleasure) and it usually comes with some kind of meat or fish (not always bulgogi) and side dishes. Actually, all Korean meals should come with an assortment of banchan, but we agree with you that San Soo Gap San’s selection is pretty darn superior – that’s a hell of a lot of banchan!

  • avatar
    Cynthia September 1, 2008 - 10:53 pm Reply

    How much does this gluttony cost?

  • avatar
    Doddie from Korea September 2, 2008 - 4:36 pm Reply


    I meant SAL Bap restaurant, not ssam. You’re right about Ssam being wrapped rice. In the SalBap restaurants, there are no menus. You just tell the waitress how many orders of rice you want or how many people there are in the table.

    I live in Icheon City where the best Salbap restaurants are. Icheon rice is reputed to be the rice served to korean kings and royalty ages ago.


  • avatar
    FatManSeoul September 3, 2008 - 10:52 pm Reply

    You live in Icheon where the *only* salbap restaurants are. It took Fatman quite a bit of time to find a reference in Korean that was reliably for the food you’re talking about – it looks good though, and we’ll give it a shot next time we head out there. The ordering mechanism you describe is common at lots of Korean restaurants where they serve only a single specialty item. Korean cities and villages tend to have a few local foods that are hard to find or eat elsewhere. Some, like Andong Jjimdak, Chuncheon dakgalbi, or Jeonju bibimbap are famous. Others aren’t as famous, but are just as delicious. At any rate, in Chicago you’re unlikely to find either ‘salbap’ or rice imported from Incheon, but it’s good to hear there’s lots of delicious Korean food to be had!

  • avatar
    angel September 4, 2008 - 10:47 am Reply

    omg..i loooooooooove san soo gap san!! i can go there as often as you do and STILL want some more!

    btw, try cho sun ok on Lincoln ave.. wowwwww. my new love.

  • avatar
    Fart Sandwich September 4, 2008 - 11:44 am Reply


    Also, I eat there every so often too. It is delicious. I can go with you one time and show you what this stuff is, but FatManSeoul told you practically everything already.


  • avatar
    Ike September 4, 2008 - 12:33 pm Reply

    No doubt…mad good.
    BUT, last time i was there, I asked for some more kimchi…then I asked again…then I asked again…and then I paid and left. I’m just saying, sometimes the service is a bit whack. I got the feeling that white people don’t get no extra kimchi.

  • avatar
    tex888 September 5, 2008 - 5:18 am Reply

    Good review and great pictures, Roy. Definitely good food and among the top 3 Korean places in Chicago along with Hae Woon Dae.

    Roy, note that in traditional Korean meals, you have the appetizers like the pajun you describe above, and then the barbecue meats is actually the 2nd appetizer course.

    The main entree is actually a bowl based dish such as either bibim bap rice with mixed vegetables and meat, or a soup based dish like kalbi tang short rib soup.

  • avatar
    jajdude September 5, 2008 - 7:17 am Reply

    A common trick in Korea is to marinate the galbi with instant coffee – can give you a nice buzz!

    While Korean food is nowhere as good as Chinese food, for what it is galbi is all right. Nice review nonetheless.

  • avatar
    chairman whu? September 5, 2008 - 5:23 pm Reply

    chinese food aint got shit on korean food!
    unless consuming massive amounts of grease and msg and not shitting for a week is your thing

  • avatar
    octopod September 11, 2008 - 9:05 pm Reply

    chairman: not shitting for a week? I don’t think that’s the food’s fault, dude. Probably can be blamed on that massive bong hit of opium you took after the meal.

    (Either that, or you just didn’t drink enough tea.)

    Back on topic though: holy crap, that is a truly astounding and masterful array of banchan. I live in L.A. and haven’t found one like that yet out her. (The brown stuff is, as explained above, mostly made from fermented salted soybeans; it’s basically the stinky paste left over in the bottom of the jar after you make soy sauce and pour it off. Makes a killer soup too; try ordering doenjang jjigae for your stew course next time.)

  • avatar
    nikkos September 22, 2008 - 10:05 am Reply

    Dined at San Soo Gap San with friends last Friday night and I am still reeling…amazing.

  • avatar
    yuri October 27, 2008 - 7:40 pm Reply

    If you like san soo gap san.. you should try out cho sun ok that’s on lincoln and damen.. or sol ga… which is near mather high school on lincoln.

  • avatar
    Get In My Urban Belly - Chicago Gluttons November 28, 2008 - 12:21 pm Reply

    […] a minute ago to NEVER prejudge a restaurant just because it’s located in a strip mall (see CG San Soo Gap San post).  Pan-Asia’s freshest chop house in Chi-City, Urban Belly (UB), nestles into the company of […]

  • avatar
    Reid December 1, 2008 - 10:16 pm Reply

    Is this place byob?

  • avatar
    admin December 2, 2008 - 2:17 pm Reply

    No, they have beer / sake / soju . . I recommend a bottle of soju with your meal. Tastes like ass at first, then after the 3 glass it’s fucking delicious. (And doesn’t seem to give hangovers)

  • avatar
    coreaeatin January 31, 2009 - 4:42 pm Reply

    if you go to korea, this would be a pretty typical normal Korean bbq restaurant.. Korean food, if you go to the right place, is by far the best tasting food on the planet.. i wouldnt trade a good korean restaurant for anything…sure beats burgers and fries.

  • avatar
    Rachel June 21, 2009 - 2:49 pm Reply

    This is my favorite restaurant in the world!! Who ever wrote this review is undoubtedly amazing!!!! Long live San Soo Gap San and Korean BBQ!!!!!!

  • avatar
    Mad Jack Deacon June 25, 2009 - 12:54 pm Reply

    I’ve been a dirty, dirty whore for San Soo Gap San for a while now. In addition to the Kolbi, I’m a big fan of their Dolsot Bibimbap.

    Basically they put all the good stuff from regular Bibimbap in a sesame oiled stone bowl, put it over a burner and get the damn thing NASA reentry hot.

    The bowl comes to your table you dump in kochujang (chili paste), let it sit for a second or two and the indulge in some muhfuckin’ gluttony, bitches!

  • avatar
    Brian Dear June 30, 2009 - 9:34 am Reply

    That “goo” is red bean paste. I live in Seoul, Korea and the stuff you showed is pretty much what I eat every day (with some variation.) Outside my window, I can look out and see about fifteen restaurants similar to that. The grill at the table thing is de rigeur here. Glad to see that Chicagoland has some similar places! The best part about Korean food, is that it’s actually very, very healthy. All about fresh ingredients, minimally processed. Anyway, great blog! You’ve got a new reader here in Korea!

  • avatar
    ChicagoMom August 6, 2009 - 7:59 am Reply

    Roy, you are too funny. Thanks for sharing your mouth boners.

  • avatar
    Little Helper February 4, 2010 - 10:09 am Reply

    You do realize you misspelled the name of the restaurant, don’t you?

  • avatar
    jimbo March 25, 2010 - 8:37 pm Reply

    The food is great but the service has to be among the worst in Chicago. Immediately after you finish eating and they’ve cleared the table, they come up to your table and tell you to leave so they can seat the next group even when there is no next group! Not a place for a long romantic dinner. And oh yeah you come out smelling like smoke and barbecue.

  • avatar
    jajdude November 13, 2010 - 7:35 pm Reply

    Man, Korean food in LA is way better than in Chicago. Some Koreans even claim it’s tastier than in Korea itself.

  • avatar
    madjackdeacon November 19, 2010 - 9:22 am Reply

    admin :
    I recommend a bottle of soju with your meal. Tastes like ass at first, then after the 3 glass it’s fucking delicious. (And doesn’t seem to give hangovers)

    So long as all you drink is the soju. The second you start mixing it up with anything, that shit will fuck yo couch. Long and hard, and not in the good way that you want.

  • avatar

    […] I’d love to visit South Korea, far away from that dangerous border, only to experience the people living in fairly normal happiness and success, and mainly to eat their food. I love kimchee! Yum! Spicy, refreshing, crunchy health bowl. I down that shit by itself, but adding it to a noodle bowl or some Korean spiced meat dish ain’t too shabby either. My trek to the East won’t happen for about 18 months, so until then I take advantage of my abundantly populated city, and head north to Korea-town, for some kimchee and about a billion other delicious items. I had a memorable evening, barefoot, with some of the best people I know at San Soo Gab San. […]

  • avatar

    […] according to Roy at Chicago Gluttons, San Soo Gap San […]

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