Korean BBQ restaurants and hot pot restaurants are trending along the Bellaire Boulevard corridor, meaning that more customers are learning how to assemble and cook these delicacies at their tables.

This is the happy story of a newcomer to the routine who visited a new restaurant that is also one of the very few in Houston that combine  BBQ and hotpot cuisine.

K-POT Korean BBQ and Hot Pot Restaurant opened its newest location at 10790 Bellaire in the International Management District, merging the cuisine with an all-you-can-eat experience. It’s a fun experience beyond the great food.

The restaurant serves traditional Korean meats like beef bulgogi, thinly sliced marinated beef served regular or spicy. Korean BBQ meats include marinated beef bulgogi, galbi (short ribs) and pork belly. Thinly sliced non-marinated meats include beef belly, Kobe beef, and prime brisket.

The K-POT short ribs are the most popular menu item and for good reason. The perfectly grilled ribs are seasoned with a sweet marinade that will impress even the toughest barbecue connoisseur.

Other grill items include spicy calamari, salmon, spicy baby octopus and jumbo shrimp. Spicy chicken bulgogi and garlic chicken are tasty alternatives to the beef and pork selections. Vegetable grill options include eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, onions and pumpkin.

Like others, I was a little skeptical of the concept of going to a restaurant and cooking my own food. I mean I usually look forward to eating out to take a break from the kitchen. However, my first experience at tabletop grilling has changed my mind.

As a newbie at any sort of grilling (my husband handles the grill at our house), I was almost overwhelmed by the menu choices. However, I had little to worry about as the staff at K-Pot helped me every step of the way.

My first decision: Remembering it’s all-you-can-eat, did I want just barbecue, or barbecue and hot pot? From there, I selected from the list of various meats and vegetables to prepare. My server guided me through the menu with recommendations and suggestions. She let me know there was a “buffet-style” area that I could visit.

“We pride ourselves on being full service to help guests who are new to the experience, which can be overwhelming. We train our service team to provide the best possible guest experience and explain our concept,” manager Austin Xayadeth explained. He said he oversees a staff of more than 90 people.

Part of the experience is a buffet island of flavorings and sauces, including familiar names like peanut sauce, soy sauce and oyster sauce, along with unfamiliar names like K-POT sauce, soybean paste and brisket sauce. Among the sauces were other items to feast on like kimchi, potstickers and potatoes. Loaded up with sauces and marinades, I headed back to my table for my try at the grill.

The restaurant offers plenty of seating with a grill and hot plate at each table. The items we had ordered from the menu had been delivered to our table when we returned.

We grabbed the cooking tongs and began our first try at Korean barbecue. I must admit that the more I grilled, the better I got. We used sauces as marinades and some we just dipped our items into. It was not like cooking, it was an experience. I thought, “What a great way to have drinks and dinner with family or friends.” It was something different if you are looking for a new team-building event with co-workers; cook together then enjoy together.

Upon entering the restaurant, you cannot help but notice the large bar area. The recently added happy hour features “Buy One Get One” specials. Happy hour is for both cocktails and non-alcohol drinks. The full-service bar features popular K-POT specialties like Pineapple Painkiller and Hennessey Island. There are over six versions of a mojito including a Sake Mojito, along with margaritas. Non-alcoholic drinks include flavored lemonades, teas and coconut milk.

Hot pot is an Asian dish whereby a heat source is placed at a dining table that keeps a pot of stock simmering while diners are provided with a selection of meats, vegetables, rice, noodles and other ingredients to create their own personalized soup. The broth is flavored and the customer favorite seems to be the Thai Tom Yum.

The restaurant has enough space to host your next community group or large gathering.

“We are listening to feedback,” the manager said, with plans to add to-go options and partner with community organizations for fundraising opportunities.

Welcome to a new way to “Feel the Grill.”


— By Jessika Leal