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Tour The New San Soo Korean BBQ, Now Open in River West

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Chicago’s acclaimed Korean barbecue has some new tricks

A person grilling meat on a tabletop grill that’s surrounded by banchan.
The sizzle has made its way to River West with San Soo Korean BBQ.
Barry Brecheisen
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

San Soo Korean BBQ has opened earlier than first anticipated along Milwaukee Avenue in River West giving a fun spin to a restaurant that’s been around for 26 years. Christopher Kim hopes to augment his family’s formula with cocktails, outdoor grill tables while modernizing the service. He’s teamed with Zach Friedlander and Alvin Kang from Aloha Poke Co. and Angry Crab to give Chicagoans more charred and marinated meats in their lives; they want to eventually open more locations.

They’ve shortened the restaurant’s name, added a bar, and gone with cast iron grill tables. That combined with improved ventilation means customers on a busy Saturday night can chew on bulgogi and not smell like smoke on their next step during a busy weekend bender.

San Soo aims to nail the classics like kalbi, while upping the cocktail game with Korean-inspired drinks. While charcoal cooking is San Soo’s signature, the indoor tables are strictly electric. The outdoor patio will feature charcoals for those who want that char. And don’t worry, there’s still plenty of banchan.

There are quirks starting with a Nintendo-inspired mural featuring Mega Man outside. Inside they’ll have disposable cameras inside. Ownership hopes these little touches help endear the restaurant to a broader audience.

Walk through the restaurant below. San Soo isn’t officially open until Monday, but they won’t turn customers away if they happen to be in the neighborhood.

San Soo Korean BBQ, 401 N. Milwaukee Avenue, open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Video game star Mega Man and his dog Rush love Korean barbecue.
The new name is more concise.
The dining room has plenty of sunlight.
The greenery adds a touch of fresh while diners grill their meats.
There’s a lot more room inside the restaurant compared to the North Side location.
Classy places have framed artwork.
They’ll use cast iron flame grills on inside to reduce smoke.
The disposable cameras are supposed to give the restaurant a fun vibe.
The restaurant prides itself on serving up traditional plates inside a modern space.
A new bar shows the restaurant’s expanded alcohol offerings.
The counter space will be more useful when the restaurant eventually unveils Korean fried chicken and Korean tacos.
Kalbi (beef short rib; what made San Soo popular)
Pork belly
Kimchi-Bokkumbap (hot stone bowl with stir-fried kimchi over rice with a sunny side up egg)
Steak tartare (marinated flank steak with cucumber & Korean pear)
Steamed egg served in a clay pot.
A blow-torched cocktail
After the blowtorch: K-rosé- (Hangar One rosé vodka, St. Germain, Virtue rosé cider, torched rosemary sprig).

San Soo Korean BBQ

401 North Milwaukee Avenue, , IL 60654 (312) 243-3344 Visit Website