Tucked within the colorful alleyways of the Itaewon foreigner-district is Linus ‘Bama BBQ, possibly the best American BBQ in East Asia.
Surrounded by tiki-torches and an open-air rustic interior, Linus ‘Bama BBQ is definitely where the party is on a Saturday night. The crowd was the usual Itaewon mix of buffed-out U.S. Army folk and much slimmer, and trendier Koreans. We had to wait about 30 mins to get a table, so you should definitely factor waiting time into your visit.
Lest you forget where you are, there is a sign showing the closest major city, Pyongyang, is only 121 miles away.
Although the food is not Korean, the platters, which are the main menu items, concede to Korean food culture. In Korea basically all food is meant to be shared. As a couple, this part of Korean culture is pretty convenient and makes ordering super easy. We simply got the “Platter for Two” and a Coca-Cola.
The brisket was moist and tender (especially the mound brisket), the skinny fries were crisp and well-seasoned, the mashed potatoes tasted like perfect buttery-fluff, and the buns were straightforward, a rarity in the land of sugar-coated bread. Also, they had Tabasco!
Linus ‘Bama BBQ is named after its owner, Linus Kim, a Korean-American who grew up in Alabama. Although he opened the restaurant in Korea, the food is definitely not fusion — his approach is that of a traditionalist. He has even gone back to Alabama since the opening of his restaurant to study with the famous pit-masters of that region. Condé Nast Traveler did a engaging interview with Linus Kim that you can read about here.
He was also on Anthony Bourdain’s Mind of a Chef!
I left the restaurant with eyes happily glazed over, rubbing my belly lazily, which means ‘Bama BBQ gets my seal of approval.
If you are looking for some straightforward American comfort food, we recommend you follow the glowing pig sign!
136-13 Itaewon-ro, Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul