Gen Korean BBQ pleases the palate and brings the party


Volcano chicken at Gen Korean Barbecue at 1353 Willow Pass Road in Concord taken for dinner on Feb. 24. (Isaac Norman/DVC Inquirer)

Isaac Norman, Managing editor

Gen Korean BBQ is equal parts experience and eating, a memorable treat that will leave you grinning from ear to ear, feeling disgusted with how much you ate yet yearning for your body to recover for the next round of gluttonous ecstasy.

Located at 1353 Willow Pass Road in Concord, Gen lets you know you’ve joined the party from the moment you walk in.

With hip-hop music playing, sirens wailing and employees shouting, “It’s happy hour!” the ambiance immediately floods you in the weekend nightlife mentality.

Visually the interior decoration of blue lights and shuttered windows are a turnoff because they look like a cheap club in a Las Vegas casino.

But the infectious energy and genuine positivity you get from the waitstaff contrasts that kitschy feeling to make you feel like you’ve entered your buddy’s house party and everyone is glad to see you.

At the end of the day though, any successful restaurant is judged on the quality of its food and Gen is no exception.

Here are a few dishes to try:

Spicy Baby Octopus. When combined with salad this entree gives you something light to balance out the heavier meats on the menu.

Volcano Chicken. If garlic chicken, spicy chicken, jalapeños, fresh garlic, sesame oil and chili paste sounds delicious to you this is a must-try.

Garlic Chicken. In contrast to the complex flavors of Volcano Chicken, Garlic Chicken stands out by being elegantly simple. The taste of fresh garlic stands out without being overwhelming and it is surprisingly light on the stomach.

Gobchang. If you are feeling adventurous and want something more “authentic” you should try marinated bovine small intestine. It tastes like chicken and needs extra chewing. Not bad, but I’ve heard the large intestine is better.

“Korean Carnitas.” To make these you grill jalapeños in sesame oil and flash cook thin-sliced beef brisket. From there you place the two in your radish tortilla and then dip the finished product into the sauce(s) of your choosing.

With 35 dinner items offered at the Concord location and at least a dozen sauces to cook with, diners can create a multitude of unique possibilities for the reasonable price of $25 per person.

And don’t forget, it is all you can eat.

My waitress Molly Phan succinctly described the appeal of Gen as being all about, “to your choice, what you want to eat, how you want to cook it.”

Gen gives you lots of latitude to experiment but it is important to remember they do have rules.

You are not allowed to takeaway any food and if you don’t finish your food, for example if you order a plate but then don’t eat any of it, you will be charged extra.

This is an easy mistake to make because according to Molly most people often overindulge and order too much.

So remember: pace yourself, experiment and bump to the rhythm of the night.