A table fills up with ingredients for Korean barbecue and...

A table fills up with ingredients for Korean barbecue and Chinese hot pot at K-CITY BBQ in Levittown. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

It's important to do a survey lap around the buffet at K-CITY BBQ in Levittown, because chaos will reign if you don't have a strategy before you start eating here.

At the back of a cavernous industrial space, a cadre of chefs moves hunks of beef through a deli slicer for the Korean barbecue grills on each table. Sushi chefs prepare rolls and place sashimi into white ramekins. The rows of buffet tables stretch before them: A stunning seafood bar that includes an entire table of fish cakes, not one but two sauce stations and enough raw meat to supply a butcher shop. 

Back at the table, a server is opening up packets of butter to throw on the tableside grill as it heats up. Another server patrols the room with a jug of broth, refilling the personal hot pots on every table.

Located in the former home of a Chinese buffet, K-CITY is the latest and most extravagant example of a growing trend that combines Asian barbecue and hot pot. The Japanese shabu shabu spot JBBQ was the first to touch down here in Bay Shore in 2020 (now with three locations.) The growing chain KPOT moved into Westbury and soon the Smith Haven Mall. But K-CITY goes even further by putting all the ingredients out on a buffet for a mere $36.95. 

The experience can be overwhelming and also kind of confusing, but it helps if you accept the fact that you're probably not going to be able to try everything in one sitting. Don't feel guilty for skipping the hot prepared items like tempura and dim sum — go straight to the sushi. It's not the highest quality fish, but a few bites of California roll and spicy tuna is enough to get the ball rolling. Then it's your call to move onto Chinese hot pot or Korean barbecue grill, or attempt both at the same time. 

At K-CITY, there are separate stations for Korean barbecue meats and hot pot meats. But since they're not clearly marked, the distinct styles of cuisine become a free-for-all where everything melts together. Don't be afraid to take chances: Throw whole bulbs of garlic into the broth to finish it off. Or dip your freshly grilled kalbi short ribs into the fermented Chinese sauce traditionally served with the hot pot.

Filled with teenagers and young families, K-CITY barbecue doesn't as much appeal to the hard-core foodies as it does to casual eaters looking for a hangout spot. You'll find spicier hot pot elsewhere and higher-quality Korean meats, but few places give you this much bang for your buck. 

K-CITY BBQ, 3056 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown, 516-520-0888, kcitybbq.com. Open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

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