In Korea, tableside grilled pork belly, or samgyeopsal (literally “three-layer pork”) is a revered piece of the pig, often matched with equally special partners like raw fermented skate or superaged kimchi and eaten wrapped in sesame leaf with schmears of soybean or red pepper paste. At Kim’s it is treated with a similar seriousness, marinated in one of five seasonings: wine, herbs, soybean paste, powdered bamboo leaf, or garlic-curry sauce.
These marinades are subtle, and the pork can be jazzed up with a number of wrappings (red leaf lettuce, thinly sliced pickled daikon) and condiments (bean paste, soybean powder, orange-onion sauce, pepper paste-dressed shredded green onion). The pork belly itself, known as “black” pork because it comes from Stygian hued heritage Kurobuta pigs, is fried on an inclined griddle so the rendered fat runs into a collecting bowl.
There’s a selection of “casserole” dishes–more like soups–and kitchen-cooked dinners (very tender and sweet bulgogi), but a couple of the enormous appetizers can make a prodigious meal in themselves. Gol-baeng-i-mu-chim is a heaping mound of vegetables, whelk (a chewy snail known elsewhere as scungilli), and hand-cut noodles. A less refined but no less satisfying way to enjoy the house specialty is a gigantic plate of sliced pork belly with kimchi and tofu, and even the hae-mul pajun–the ubiquitous seafood pancake–is fat and crispy, more green onion and shrimp than batter. Panchan are plentiful and of high quality, particularly the very fresh and very spicy kimchi. The owners operated previously in far-off Mundelein, but sold out and moved south to Mount Prospect, a happy circumstance for me, since this has become one of my favorite Korean restaurants around.
More intel here.