Thursday, July 24, 2014

Restaurant Review: Linus' BBQ, Itaewon

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It's a bit hard to find, even though it is in the heart of Itaewon, but you are a fool if you don't change all your plans for dinner throughout the next century to beat a path to Linus's door!

After enjoying his "pop-up" at Magpie's in Noksapyeong a while ago, The Stumbler and I have tried to meet up at this new southern-style bar-be-que joint for a couple of weeks, but somehow never worked it out. What the HELL were we thinking!?! Finally, we made it to his newly-opened, non-pop-up restaurant tonight, with new pal Mike, and I never want to eat anywhere else again.

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First, how do you get there? Find the main drag in in Itaewon and make your way to the McDonald's. To its immediate left are some stairs down into a little underground shopping area. Follow the hallway to the end, and turn left, where you'll see the picnic tables outside and a relatively small indoor eating space, as shown above.

Second, I was joyful when J.R.'s Southern Style BBQ opened on the main street last year, and many folks have heard me sing its praises. And I wasn't wrong to do so. but Lawd a' Mercy! you ain't had nothin' like Linus's BBQ! Starved as I was of the gen-you-wine article, I thought J.R.'s was as good as I was gonna git!

I'm not gonna get into where JR or Linus and them is all from--mainly 'cause I don't give a rat's ass--and I think both have a reputable product. But if we just compare the basics, the standard pulled pork BBQ sandwich, Linus wins on every point. The meat is perfectly smoked and seasoned, the buns buttered and lightly grilled, the sauce just like back home (and the right amount of it).

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Third, there are the sides. Both have the shoestring fries, both good. But Linus offers so much more! There were three of us: Mike had the fried okry (delicious, but not as good as my sister-in-law's); I had "Smoky mac-n-cheese", and I do not think I exaggerate when I say I could subsist on a big ol' bowl o' that till my dying day (it's on the left above); Chris had a side of fried mac-cheese-and-jalapeno-balls that were a spicy delight.

Neither restaurant (nor any place I know of in Korea, including KFC) yet has a handle on how to make cole slaw, but I still give the edge to Linus. Neither restaurant is a bargain, either, with the basic sandwich coming in at 12,000 W--if that matters a lot to you, then by all means veer right on Itaewon-gil and enter the Golden Arches. Serves you right.

Finally, a little pedantry. I'm allowed, after such a glowing review. The sign says "Linus' BBQ". This is incorrect, as Strunk and White instruct on--literally--page one: "Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding 's." They do allow for exceptions in the case of ancient proper names, e.g., Jesus', but Linus is no Son of Our Lord, even if a god of southern-style dead pig preparation. Hmmm, on second thought ...


Michael Stoehr said...

I definitely agree that Linus' BBQ place is absolutely awesome. I wouldn't compare it to JR Smokehouse at all. Linus' place is definitely more "Southern" in style and taste than JR these days.
Linus' crew take their time with making the food. You can taste the difference between the two restaurants.

Tuttle said...

Michael, you are quite right that there's no comparison. Except they both serve up decent Southern-style BBQ grub. But, as I tried to express, Linus is all over it! My recommendation is to come out Exit 4, walk right by JR's and continue along the road until just before you reach Micky D's. Then follow the directions provided to Linus's place.

I'm hoping to visit once more before I go on vacation...