When Roy Choi introduced kalbi tacos for the first time in Los Angeles, it became a huge hit. No one had thought to combine Korean BBQ meats with traditional Mexican dishes, but it magically works. Since I didn’t want to track down Roy’s famous food truck and wait in the infamous line, I decided to make my own version of kalbi tacos, right down to the marinade. Sure it can be a lot of work but the end result is very much worth it!

kalbi tacos
kalbi tacos


Serves 8


Kalbi tacos

1 hrTotal Time

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    Kalbi marinade
  • 3 lb short ribs, sliced flanken style
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice syrup
  • 3 1/2 tbsp mirin
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 ounces onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 ounces Asian pear, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 green onion, white stem only
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 dried chili de arbol
  • Slaw
  • 1 Asian pear, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup kimchi, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • Gochujang aioli
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp gochujang
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • Remaining ingredients
  • 16 corn tortillas, warmed


  1. Combine soy sauce - water in a blender and blender until smooth. Pour into a medium sauce pot. Stir in the green onion stem, bay leaf and chili de arbol. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from heat and strain the sauce using a fine mesh strainer. Discard the solids. Let cool completely.
  2. Pour the marinade over the kalbi. Let marinate for 24 hours.
  3. Prepare the slaw by tossing together pear with cucumber, kimchi, and scallions. Set aside.
  4. Prepare aioli by mixing together gochujang with mayonnaise and lime juice. Set aside.
  5. Preheat grill to high. Add the marinated kalbi and cook until seared and caramelized, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side. Remove from heat and finely chop the meat.
  6. Heat saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped kalbi with the juices and cook for 2 minutes or until the meat has caramelized. Remove from heat.
  7. Top warmed tortillas with kalbi, pear and kimchi slaw and finish with a drizzle of gochujang aioli. Serve while hot.


**Helpful tips and common mistakes

Enter any Korean BBQ restaurant and the strong aroma of meat will surround you. Korean BBQ restaurants are popular in Los Angeles because you can get all the meat you can want for only $25. Nowadays restaurants serve everything from whole steaks to marinated pork belly, but some of the classics are bulgogi and kalbi.

What is kalbi? It is flanken style short ribs that are marinated in soy sauce, sugar, and other aromatics. The marinade is what makes the beef so tender and delicious. After much trial and error, I created this recipe for what I consider a pretty darn good kalbi marinade.

Whenever I prepare carne asada tacos, I double caramelize the meat, so I applied the same technique to these kalbi tacos. Grilling the ribs is the first step to caramelizing the outside. Chopping the meat and cooking it once more on the stovetop caramelizes every piece of meat, resulting in incredibly flavorful kalbi.

kalbi tacos

Now you can’t just have Korean meat and a corn tortilla and call it a day. Since it’s a fusion dish, complete the taco with kimchi and Asian pear slaw and gochujang aioli. Kimchi is fermented cabbage that is served as a side dish for every Korean meal (yes, literally every Korean meal). Gochujang is a chili paste that can be found in most Asian markets.

Assemble the tacos by piling on the kalbi, kimchi slaw, and gochujang aioli. These Korean kalbi tacos are really the best of two worlds. Thanks for the inspiration, Roy!

kalbi tacos


Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.


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