Beef brisket cooked in an oversized cast iron pot at Won...

Beef brisket cooked in an oversized cast iron pot at Won KBBQ in Carle Place. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

The all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue spot Won KBBQ hasn't advertised its opening, but every table inside the sprawling neon cavern is full — and not just with people. 

Much of the surface area is taken up by rustic cast iron domes that bubble up from the middle of each table. With built-in handles, they look more like pot lids from an ancient Korean banquet hall. The rest of the table is given over to handsome spread of Korean meats and fermented side dishes, boiling soups and sticky condiments. To ensure patrons don't order more than they can eat, servers only bring out three large portions of meat at a time. 

Won KBBQ opened in Carle Place after 2 and a...

Won KBBQ opened in Carle Place after 2 and a half years of construction. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

This clubby K-pop den has opened in the same Carle Place shopping center as the conveyor belt chain Kura Sushi, near Roosevelt Field Mall. It's an offshoot of the Won KBBQ in Bayside, Queens. Owner Kelly Im's daughter Angela Hong said construction took 2 and a half years. Now that it's open, family members are commuting every day from New Jersey to work the restaurant. 

This style of cast iron pot barbecue, also referred to as cauldron pot barbecue, is flourishing in Korean enclaves of Queens as well as New Jersey suburbs. Hong said that the cast iron's larger surface area makes it easier for bigger groups to share the same grill. But it also imparts a better sear on the meat because it retains the fire's heat. It's fun to watch the servers grill tableside, draping meats across the stately dome and moving them to the sides and top of the grill to rest once done. 

Servers doing the grilling is not common at an all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant, but Won KBBQ is a cut above most others in its genre. At $42.95 per person it's a few dollars more than typical eat-as-much-as-you-want joints (and unlike its competitors KPOT, K-CITY and JBBQ, does not serve Chinese hot pot), but the quality of the meat is high.

Patrons view the menu by scanning a QR code with a mobile phone, then choosing from 19 varieties of mostly pork and beef cuts, plus a couple chicken and one spicy squid. Don't miss the thick-cut pork belly, which comes in long fat slabs of mega bacon that servers finish by cutting into cubes with scissors. Dipped into salty sesame oil, they are so juicy and decadent. Another favorite is the kalbi marinated steak, cut thicker than the "kalbi “arinated tender steak” and arriving at the table beefy and boneless. The spicy pork bulgogi also get high marks for its spicy sweet gochugaru marinade. 

Won KBBQ doesn't provide a lot of banchan side dishes, which the server said is typical in Korea these days, but the cover price does includes unlimited bubbling soups, japchae glass noodles and the favorite of the evening: the steamed egg in a black crock, which you can spoon over rice like a jiggly custard.

Make sure to order a side of lettuce so you can roll your meats and veggie salads into fresh wraps. For those that partake, the experience is practically incomplete without a bottle or two of soju, a sweet Korean spirit that loosens things up without being too heavy. And for dessert, a green iced Melona ice pop ($3.50) is a light finish to an evening of meaty madness. 

Won KBBQ, 125 Old Country Rd., Carle Place, 516-226-3282, Open 11:30 a.m. to midnight daily. 

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