Korean BBQ can be a little daunting for diners, especially for those new to the process. Should you get a table with your own grill on it? How long should you really cook your bulgogi? And why are there so many small bowls with different sides? Open in Plano since January, Flamin Pan Korean BBQ Grill aims to make Korean cuisine more approachable for Planoites.
Flamin Pan’s owner, Peter Kang, was born in South Korea, but grew up here in the U.S. He looks at Korean food through the lens of his own experience growing up within American culture. “Food is all about history,” he said. “After the Vietnam War, Vietnamese people brought their food to America. After the Korean War, what did they bring? Bulgogi.”
But after witnessing his friends struggle during a trip to a Korean restaurant, Peter recognized the importance of simpifying the process. “In a lot of Korean restaurants, they serve like a thousand dishes in front of you, and you didn’t even order them!” he laughed, referring to banchan, the practice of providing a cornucopia of small side dishes at traditional Korean restaurants.
Flamin Pan’s menu is extremely simple to navigate, with only three steps. Guests choose their style, or which foundation they’d like, with options of rice, bread, fries or a simple salad. Then guests choose flavors from a variety of sauces and dressings that include gochujang mayo, bulgogi sauce, hot sauce, sesame dressing and more. Step three is finishing with a protein; options include beef, pork, chicken, shrimp and tofu. Flavors range from spicy to savory, and the DIY style means there are endless possible meal configurations.
While many people may not immediately associate bread with Korean food, it holds a special place in Peter’s heart heart. He suggests newcomers give theirs a try; it’s all made in house from scratch. “I’ve been in the baking industry for a long time, more than 10 years,” he explained. “It’s not like any other bread. It’s milk bread, a very soft, Korean style bread.”
While plenty of local places serve bulgogi or other Korean dishes, Flamin Pan sets itself apart by taking its name literally in the preparation of each meal. “Bulgogi is simply marinated beef. Bul means fire in Korean, and gogi means meat, so you have to use fire to cook it,” Peter explained, as he displayed his unique kitchen setup.
Flamin Pan employs a novel way of getting an authentic flame-charred flavor – a custom gas torch that evenly sears the contents of each pan from both the top and bottom. This method is employed to combat another common issue with traditional Korean restaurants, the smoke smell. “You have to go in there and cook it yourself. The problem is all the smoke in the air. Once you walk out, it’s in your clothes, too. We don’t have that here.”
Flamin Pan was also created to give locals a quick, healthy choice for mealtimes. Peter says he became disappointed over the years, watching the rise of unhealthy, unsatisfying fast food creations being slung on seemingly every corner. “People are tired of fast food,” he said. “You don’t have time, but you’ve gotta go take care of your stomach. If you’ve gotta be in and out fast, why not healthy, too?”
The recipes make use of fresh vegetables that are cooked briefly to retain flavor, allowing staff to take and make orders quickly from start to finish. “Anytime you come in, if you’re in a hurry, you don’t even need to sit down. It’s ready in just two minutes,” Peter smiled.
By removing and adjusting many of the inefficiencies in traditional Korean restaurants, Flamin Pan has set its sights on the goal of making food all Planoites can enjoy, no matter their cultural background.
“I grew up in a Korean family with an American culture,” Peter said. There are a lot of Korean restaurants here, but I just want to bring my home food.”Flamin Pan Korean BBQ Grill >
Flamin Pan Korean BBQ Grill
2129 W Parker Rd Suite 306
Plano, TX 75023
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