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New Korean Barbecue Brings Charred Kalbi to West Loop

Take a look inside SoJu BBQ

SoJu BBQ’s kalbi with kimichi
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.

The owners of SoJu BBQ will officially unveil their West Loop restaurant on Thursday for dinner service. Co-owner/chef Jake Lee will roll out his first restaurant in stages and eventually expand the dinner menu and add lunch service. He wants to nail down a truncated menu for Korean classics such as marinated, slow-roasted short rib and thinly sliced pork belly.

Lee is a Korean immigrant who’s adamant on keeping “the spirit of tradition” when it comes to the food his mother taught him to make. But he’s also keen on allowing his travels to shape his perspectives. He talks about visits to China and trying Sichuan barbecue. Customers may taste a hint of cumin in SoJu’s marinades: “No Korean uses that,” Lee said with a laugh.

SoJu applied for a liquor license, but for now it’s BYO. Eventually, it’ll add appetizers, more vegetable items, and soups. When lunch starts in a few weeks, it’ll open at 11 a.m.

Take a look at the photos of the space and food below. SoJu BBQ will open at 5 p.m. on Thursday at 36 S. Ashland Avenue. Contact the restaurant before visiting as hours will be in flux right after the debut.

The entrance at Ashland and Monroe.
It’ll have room for about 30 people.
The owners will add lunch and expanded dinner service at a later date.
It’ll open with a truncated menu and add soups and appetizers later.
Ownership hopes to add a liquor license.
A bento box with pork belly, rice, and pickled veggies.
The kalbi is made with a traditional marinade plus a hint of cumin.
A spicy chicken and rice bowl.


36 South Ashland Avenue, , IL 60607 (312) 877-5206 Visit Website