I am going to say something possibly scandalous, but I think Atlanta’s Korean barbecue scene rivals Los Angeles and New York. When I was growing up in Atlanta, it seemed like our only Korean options were Mirror of Korea on Ponce de Leon and Hae Woon Dae on Buford Highway. But now it feels as though a new Korean barbecue restaurant pops up every month, each with some newfangled kind of grill or just a different spin on the variety of side dishes offered. K-BBQ Factory is the latest offering from the owners of 770 in Suwanee and 678 in Duluth, two tried-and-true Korean barbecue spots that use charcoal grills (rather than gas) to cook the meat.
In a departure from its sister restaurants, this year-old restaurant uses gas grills topped with a rectangular grate. (Personally, I prefer charcoal because of the flavor it imparts on the meat, but gas has its place, as K-BBQ Factory proves.) Before the meat even hit the table, an overwhelming (in totally good way) amount of side dishes arrived. The abundance was so colorful, I found myself feeling a little manic darting from thin, chilled crepe to mild white kimchi served alongside sticky, chewy sheets of rice cake to a steamed egg casserole. Then, the all-beef combination platter for the four of us ($119.99) arrived, and we gasped at the abundance in front of us.
As the server laid the thinly sliced brisket on the grill, the tight frozen curl of beef unraveled from the heat and crisped around the edges. Ribeye, marinated short ribs, and various cuts kept coming off of the grill in rapid succession. Each bite was an education in beef cuts and preparation styles that even had the kids at our table enraptured. While the meat cooked, a small white bowl filled with corn and cheddar and mozzarella cheese (a now ubiquitous dish at Korean barbecue restaurants) heated until it was bubbling. And like at many Korean barbecue restaurants, meals at K-BBQ Factory end with kimchi fried rice cooked in front of you by your server.
The service here was really professional and attentive even though they were understaffed during our Saturday lunch and were training a new employee. Simply put: K-BBQ Factory impresses, and I’d easily rank it among my favorite spots (678 and Duluth’s stellar 9292 are also on that list). If you are looking to make a full outing of the trip, Studio Movie Grill, located right across the street, serves milkshakes straight to your seats. It’s the perfect post-barbecue treat, assuming you have any room. 3885 Venture Drive, Duluth, 770-232-8881