Linus’ Bama Style Barbecue, off a small alley in Itaewon, is probably the last place you would expect to find smokey, tender, and delicious barbecue food.
When I think of food in Seoul, I usually first think of barbecue. But Korean barbecue, not the type you would find in places like Texas, Kansas City, and Alabama.
I read a lot of Seoul food blogs. Blog after blog wrote reviews about the amazing food served at Linus’ Bama Style Barbecue. Great southern barbecue in Seoul? I couldn’t believe it. I had to try it out for myself.
Linus Kim, the brains behind the restaurant, is a Korean-American who was raised in Birmingham, Alabama. In Alabama, and all over the south, barbecue is a religion and a way of life. When Kim was a little boy, he was first introduced to barbecue, and more specifically, a pulled pork sandwich. This one sandwich would change his life forever.
Decades later, Linus Kim began introducing Koreans to the same Alabama style barbecue he grew up with. Before the restaurant opened, Kim became somewhat famous in the foodie world for his “pop up” events held at various locations around Itaewon including bars and restaurants.
At these events, loyal foodie fans would line up for a chance to sample delicious plates of pulled pork and ribs. Smoked for up to 16 hours, the taste and quality was unrivaled anywhere else in Seoul.
After the popularity of these events grew exponentially, Linus Kim decided to open a brick and mortar restaurant to the joys of his loyal followers. In the summer of 2014, Linus’ Bama Style Barbecue officially opened in Itaewon.
Finding the restaurant can be a little tricky if you will be visiting for your first time. The easiest way to get here is by taking exit 4 of Itaewon Station on Line 6. From the exit, continue on foot for about 350 meters until you see the McDonald’s on your left hand side.
Immediately to the left of the McDonald’s is a door with a staircase leading downstairs. Follow these stairs down and continue through the small corridor past the custom tailor shop. When you emerge on the other side, you will see the restaurant on your right.
It’s hidden from the hustle and bustle of Itaewon but well worth it.
When I first walked into the restaurant, the first thing that struck me was the smell. Nothing can compare to the amazing smells of slow cooking pork and beef.
The interior of the restaurant was open but still had an intimate and warm feeling. I didn’t sit at the simple wooden bar, but it seemed like a cool place to enjoy one of the few beers that they had on draft.
There was also an outdoor seating area with wooden picnic tables. The patio seemed like a great to enjoy a meal and drinks on a warm summer night. In the winter, the seating area is covered and the propane heaters are turned on.
I also enjoyed the old rock music playing in the background. The music made me feel like I was back in Alabama.
I am a huge fan of pulled pork sandwiches. I order it literally every time I eat barbecue food. Even with my love of pulled pork, I asked the server for her recommendation since the entire menu looked delicious. Without a doubt, she recommended the Brisket Sandwich (16,000 won). I was hesitant, but decided to try something new and go with her recommendation.
It took only about ten minutes for my food to arrive. This was surprising considering that barbecue food usually takes forever to prepare.
On the plate, a simple metal tray to be exact, was a generous portion of thin fries, a side of coleslaw, and the star of the dish, the brisket sandwich.
The sandwich was piled high with brisket and topped with a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and a couple of sliced pickles. The brisket was fall off the bone tender but still thick enough to keep its texture and a good bite. Every bite was juicy, tender, smokey, and made me want more. I think the best flavor to be found on the meat was on the crust that was perfectly charred. A lot of love and time went into cooking the ridiculously smokey meat and it shows.
The bun was soft and simple but forgettable with all the delicious meat that was piled on top of it.
If the sauce on the brisket is too sweet for your liking, be sure to ask for a side of the sauce that is used for the pulled pork. The pulled pork barbecue sauce had more of a bite to it and a stronger vinegar taste. Mixing both sauces is also recommended.
On the side were fries and coleslaw. The fries were thin, crispy, nicely seasoned, and tasted great when dunked into both of the barbecue sauces. The coleslaw was simple but fresh and light. Thankfully, it was not doused in mayonnaise like you often encounter.
The brisket sandwich served at Linus’ Bama Style Barbecue was by far one of the best brisket sandwiches I have ever tasted. I wanted to order a second, but I knew I would return soon.
My pulled pork obsession could be coming to an end.
- High quality meats
- Tender, smokey, pork and beef which is cooked for hours
- Specials including desserts, drinks and food such as baby back ribs and spare ribs
- Indoor and out seating
- Certain popular food items often run out
- Hidden location