By Josh Bernstein

Going to Koreatown for a BBQ feast can be as thrilling as it is messy, noisy and—above all—smoky. Not so at Kristalbelli, a luxe new BBQ restaurant located a few blocks off Koreatown’s hectic Thirty-second Street main drag. The sedate entrance (look for the handsome wooden door) leads to a sleek interior, which includes a buzzy upstairs lounge and candle-lit marble tables with an unusual centerpiece: a jolly and rather large male statue with the namesake “crystal belly,” on which you’ll cook premium Wagyu beef. Heated by infrared rays, the fast-cooking crystal seals in juices and limits burning, while fans suck the smoke downward so there's no dry cleaning necessary. The rest of the menu focuses on elevated renditions of Korean classics such as sundubu (tofu stew), bibimbap, and tang pyung che, a tangle of arrowroot noodles slicked with wasabi sauce. But let’s be honest: You’re coming to Kristalbelli for the premium meats.

the crowd

Business professionals seal deals over bottles of soju while stylish couples take turns pulling tender chunks of beef off the crystal grill.

... on the side

at your service
The servers have a full command of the menu’s intricacies, and they’ll patiently explain each ingredient and walk you through the proper technique for eating BBQ—a blessing for newbies confused by the countless dishes.

beans to spill
Owner J.Y. Park is a K-pop music impresario. In addition to singing, acting, dancing, and writing songs, Park also runs the record label and artist-management company JYP Entertainment.

impeccable pedigree
Chef David Shim, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, also worked at top restaurants such as L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and Gramercy Tavern.

Medium. There’s no need to shout.


lunch: Mon–Sat 11:30 AM–2:30 PM
dinner: Sun-Thu 5 PM–10:30 PM; Fri–Sat PM 5 PM–11 PM
lounge: Sun-Weds 5 PM-11 PM; Thu 5 PM-1 AM; Fri-Sat 5 PM-3 AM

price range

$13 (sundubu) to $59 (bulgogi jungol for two)