The Sweet Smell of Wang Galbi

This stunning new Korean barbecue restaurant looks like a picnic grove inside a shopping center

The tempura was piping hot and outstanding. There were three levels: one enormous jumbo shrimp fried with coconut shreds on top, then a squash, onion and carrot tempura hash concoction in the middle, and a big round of tempura sweet potato sitting on the bottom.

My bulgogi was disappointing by comparison. The beef was overcooked and dry. But my friend's short ribs were tender and moist -- you just can't miss with the wang galbi. The next time I go there for lunch, I want to try one of the many buckwheat-noodle items on the menu. They seemed to be the most popular order at all the tables around us.

The popularity of the lunch specials was a real eye-opener. As Arirang's late closing times attest, Korean barbecue is often thought of as a late-night treat. I was expecting to recommend visiting this Korean barbecue restaurant at night when the grills are lit. But the truth is the lunch is not only outstanding, it's cheap.

Grill marinated meats and shrimp for your own version of surf and turf.
Troy Fields
Grill marinated meats and shrimp for your own version of surf and turf.

Location Info


Arirang Korean Restaurant

9715 Bellaire Blvd.
Houston, TX 77036

Category: Restaurant > Korean

Region: Outer Loop - SW


Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Bento-box lunch: $6.95
Wang galbi: $16.95
Bulgogi: $13.95
Shrimp: $13.95
Seafood pancake: $10.95

9715 Bellaire Boulevard, 713-988-2088.

Arirang Korean Restaurant may have some other surprises in store for us. The place has been open for nearly a month, but they seem to be taking their time with things. I asked the waiter about an unused sushi counter that's built into the rear of the restaurant. "Sushi will come later," he said. Beer, sake and mixed drinks are also coming attractions. Meanwhile, the BYOB policy keeps the cost of a barbecue dinner (or a drinking man's lunch) very low.

Arirang is in a brand-new Bellaire shopping center across from the Wells Fargo bank close to the beltway. If you're in the neighborhood, drop by for lunch. If you want to try the Korean barbecue experience, bring a crowd of four or more so you can order several different items. I suggest you stake out a table at Arirang soon, before the crowds and the liquor licenses arrive.

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