Gen Korean BBQ – San Jose, CA

1628 Hostetter Rd

San Jose, CA 95131

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Located in an extremely busy Asian plaza in San Jose, Gen Korean BBQ serves up all you can eat Korean BBQ that you cook on the grill at your table. Parking is a nightmare in this plaza, which is shared with 99 Ranch Supermarket and various other Asian businesses. When we arrived on Sunday afternoon, we spent over 20 minutes looking for a parking spot. Dozens of other vehicles prey upon shoppers returning to their horribly parked cars. When we finally parked on the other side of the plaza, we made it to Gen and got on their waiting list with a 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minute wait time. While waiting, we decided to take a quick walk into a crowded 99 Ranch, but left quickly because we were so hungry. When we waited inside Gen, there was plenty of loud music playing in the lounge-like ambiance. A hostess finally called my name after 45 minutes of waiting. The hostess brought us to an available table in the rear of the restaurant and explained the price and selection of items on the menu.

When we sat down, the table already had a bowl of salad, rice paper, and thinly sliced daikon. A server came by to take our drink and meat order. We could order up to four items at a time, so we ordered the bulgogi, premium steak, brisket, and smoked garlic pork belly. There are a total of 37 items that could be ordered from the dinner menu. Other runners eventually brought over various sauces, side dishes, rice, and tongs. The grill was a standard round stainless steel plate over gas set up with overhead ventilation. There was quite a lot of bulgogi provided and came with green onion and onion garnishes. We opted to just cook the meat, which came in large chunks that you need to separate on the grill. The bulgogi was very juicy and fresh, but could use more marinade. I liked how the bulgogi was not too shredded to the point of mush like at Oz. The steak looked like a good 6-8 ounces and had a good amount of marbling. It was not marinated at all, but can be dipped in sauces. After cooking both sides, we used the scissors to cut it into pieces for final cooking. The steak was actually quite tender and fresh. The brisket cooked extremely fast because it came sliced extremely thin. Each piece was tender and juicy. The smoked garlic pork belly came in two large strips, which took up an entire side of the grill. The pork belly looked quite plain, but the flavors of the smoked garlic are actually infused into the meat. After cooking the pork belly for a while, we used the scissors to slice the meat into delicious pieces. Each piece of pork was juicy and crispy. The flavors of the meat were elevated when dipped in the provided dark savory sauce.

Our second set of orders included galbi, pork bulgogi, Cajun shrimp, and spicy pork belly. The two strips of marinated galbi cooked quickly, as did the rest of the beef we ordered today. Each piece tasted juicy with not too much fat around the ribs. The pork bulgogi was sliced very thin and was covered in spicy sauce. I really liked how the pork was sliced so thin because it helped it cook faster. The sauce was not too spicy, but had enough spicy flavor. There was quite a large portion of pork served, more than its beef counterpart. The pork itself was juicy and flavorful. The Cajun shrimp cooked quickly and included the head and shell. The Cajun flavors were prominent and tasted good as I removed the shell. The shrimp tasted fresh and delicious. The spicy pork belly came in two large strips like our first order, but the spicy sauce did burn a lot easier than the pork bulgogi sauce. After cooking the meat until practically burnt, we did slice the meat into pieces before final cooking. The pork belly did taste flavorful, but these pieces were more fatty than the first order.

Our final order of food included another order of brisket and an order of japchae. The brisket from this round came in larger thin slices, but included a lot more meat than fat, which caused it to be more chewy than the first order. The meat still went well dipped in the dark sauce. We decided to order a half order of the japcahe instead of a full order because we were getting full. The japchae had some vegetables mixed in, but was overly salty and savory. I seriously drank a ton of water while eating the japchae.

Overall, Gen Korean BBQ serves up delicious food for you to cook at reasonable prices. Service was slow at first to provide essentials such as tongs and rice as well as the first meat order, but eventually the servers became quite attentive at checking on us and taking refill orders. Staff noticed that we needed a grill change without us asking and were able to quickly get us a clean grill. The lunch price is a very reasonable $15.99 per person, but only dinner is available on weekends at $24.99 per person. There are nine additional items on the dinner menu compared to the lunch menu, but I think that the lunch menu looks just fine. Even with a two-hour time limit, we were unable to try any additional items with all the meat we ordered. When we left, there were a whole lot more people waiting for a table than when we arrived. Although the food was of high quality and was delicious, the long wait and horrible parking make eating at Gen a challenge that you need to prepare for. If you have never tried Gen, you should definitely give them a try, especially if you are a fan of Korean BBQ. Since this San Jose location is the closest you can get to their So-Cal locations, you can take a short drive for delicious food. Compared to Oz back in Sacramento, Gen wins hands down for both selection and price.

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