By Jared Steckl and Allie Krasinski
Inman Park seems to constantly have a new restaurant or boutique popping up, and the newest addition is Char Korean Bar & Grill. Since it was one of the most crowded restaurants on the strip, we had to give it a try.
After hearing rave reviews from many friends and local critics, we were more than excited to try it out and have Korean BBQ for the first time.
Situated at 299 North Highland Ave., Suite S in the Inman Quarter mixed development, the restaurant has full outdoor seating, retractable walls to open during nice weather and grilling stations at each table.
Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly staff and were seated outside, where we were immediately approached by our outgoing server. Typically, Char would allow you to prepare your own meats at a grill on your table, but unfortunately the restaurant did not have this unique amenity this time.
From the menu, we decided on Korean Fried Chicken ($12), Kimchibokkeumbap ($10), Yachae Pajeon ($10), and finally for our cooked meat, the Kkotsl Kalbi ($12).
We were more than excited to try every dish, all of which had been suggested by our waiter. As we watched the dishes around us come out, we noticed how beautifully each were put together.
The first dish to arrive, the Yachae Pajeon, also known as scallion pancakes was accompanied by a sesame-soy dipping sauce. The pancakes looked beautiful due to the bright green scallions and golden color, but there was nothing special to their taste. They were like any other scallion pancake and slightly greasy. Although we are huge fans of scallion pancakes, we are not sure we would spend $10 again on these.
The Korean Fried Chicken was next. Covered in a thick, sweet, orange sauce, the chicken piece came as a full leg, which initially threw us off. After biting into the first wing, we immediately fell in love. The flavor of these wings was very similar to sweet and sour chicken at your local Chinese restaurant. The wings were flash-fried cooked to perfection and not the slightest bit dry.
Next came the Kimchebokimbab on a sizzling cast iron skillet. The spicy rice dish, topped with a fried egg and pork belly, was definitely our favorite from the night. The spices on the rice mixed perfectly with the runny egg yolk and kimchi flavor. Some pieces of the pork belly were a little tougher than we would’ve preferred, but the pork did have a strong pork flavor, if you’re into that. Overall, the dish was great.
Of course, we had to get a grilled meat at a restaurant called Char, so we ordered the Kkotsal Kalbi, a short rib. Served with sesame sauce, a sweet, less spicy Sriracha, grilled ginger and jalapeno, kimchi, rice and lettuce, the meal allows you to create your own personalized wrap with the meat, which was a fun and exciting touch to the dinner. We both thoroughly enjoyed our wraps. However, be cautious with the rice; it can easily overpower the subtle flavor of the sweet and savory short rib.
Although competition is high in Inman Park with all of the delicious eateries within a mile radius of each other, visitors, regulars and Korean BBQ enthusiasts alike now have a restaurant to satisfy their cravings. This restaurant is an exceptional addition to the neighborhood, bringing diversity and a unique new twist.