Buga Korean BBQ Restaurant


Dennis says:

Chau, Nguyen, and I went to eat at Buga Korean BBQ Restaurant today for lunch. Its located right off the 805 freeway on Clairemont Mesa Blvd west.

Nguyen and I have heard about this place from many different restaurant bloggers and we wanted to try this place ourselves.

Bulgolgi Bento

Daegee Bulgolgi Bento

Chau and I ordered the Bento Box Lunch specials that are offered until 2pm. They were $8.95 a piece and were served with great portions of meat. Chau ordered item number 1, Bulgolgi, and I ordered number 2, Daegee Bulgolgi (Spicy BBQ Pork). Both bento boxes included rice, salad, noodles, 2 pieces of sushi, and an orange slice. At first glance, Chau’s bulgolgi looked rather dry and bland but after tasting it, all doubts were put to rest. The meat was very tender and juicy. It was well marinated and cooked perfectly. Mine on the otherhand was a bit awkward. I usually like to order spicy bbq pork at korean restaurants but this particular one tasted different. There was a strange and almost rough texture to it that made me unsure of the quality. On the plus side, this is by far the least oily spicy bbq pork that i’ve had to date.

Taste: 7/10

Service: 3/5

Presentation: 5/5

Total: 15/20

Nguyen says:

I’ve been meaning to try this play for a really long time. I think the only thing that was stopping me was that I heard it was quite pricey. We are college students after all and we have to be frugal. I suggested to Dennis and Chau that we take a quick look at the menu before they seat us, so we know what the prices would be like. To my surprise they had a lunch special from 11am-2pm. Most of the items on the lunch menu were under 10 dollars!

The table we were seated at was humongous! I had so much elbow room, I could have probably stuck my elbows out and not be able to reach Chau(she was sitting next to me). I looked at the menu and I immediately knew what I was going to order. Everyone is always raving about how I should try the bibim bap($7.95).

Side dishes

The waitress brought out our food and gave us our side dishes first. They consisted of kimchee, bean sprouts, bean curd, dried small fish (sardines?), eggs, and I believe the greens were spinach. I honestly have to say, I go to Korean restaurants just to eat the side dishes. I just can’t get enough of them. She then gave us our bulgogi, daegee bulgogi, and bibim bap. At that moment my eyes enlarged and I thought to myself, “there is so much food”. I was really satisfied with the amount of food we got compared to the price.

Bibim Bap

My bibim bap had carrots, spinach, bean sprouts, shitake mushrooms, cucumbers, beef, and topped off with a whole egg. I was trying to figure how to eat this thing because at first I started picking at the individual pieces and eating it with my rice. Dennis corrected me and instructed me that I had to put the whole bowl of rice in and mix the whole thing together. To my surpise it made it better! The rice gave the bibim bap body and I just couldn’t stop chowing down, from that point on. I occasionally had to stop to pour some sauce over it. I’m unsure what the sauce is called, but it was a bit spicey and sweet at the same time and it was very tasty.


Just when I thought the waitress was coming to give us our check, she gave us 3 more bowls filled with some kind of liquid. Chau looked up at us and said, “is this the thing they give us to clean our hands?”. I was thinking the same thing as well, but I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to look dumb. I gave it a quick whiff and to my surprise, it had a nice cinnamon(ee) aroma. I took a sip of the tea and it caught me off guard because it had a kick to it. The taste had definitely had cinnamon and some ginger and something else I couldn’t quite put finger on. I think it might have been honey. The drink was very sweet and had 2 pieces of nuts in it. I want to say they were pine nuts, but I’m unsure. This drink was my favorite part of the meal.

Taste: 7/10

Service: 3/5

Presentation: 4/5

Total: 14/20


Buga Korean BBQ Restaurant
5580 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego CA 92117
(858) 560-1010

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brad's picture
Submitted by brad (not verified) on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 12:02pm

I would not recommend, in fact I would recommend going anywhere but here. Food: Below Average Service: Horrific Price: Way Over priced Atmosphere: Bad Vibe I heard great things about Buga and was excited to experience it first hand. I went with my brother and my girlfriend who is from a Korean Family. I can’t understand the positive reviews on this place; my experience was anything but positive. We showed up for our 9:00 Friday Night reservation. My first reaction was that it looked like a mix between a high school cafeteria decorated for some kind of international food fair and Denny’s. But, I’m there for the food so I got over that real quick. We were greeted by the host who explained to us that they stop serving at 9:30 and they close at 10:00; I was a little surprised that this was the first thing they said. Despite this comment, it was only 9:00 so we would have plenty of time to relax and enjoy our meal. Not the case. We ordered appetizers, soups and salads and we got it all at once with the main meal and even the desert ginger tea - yup all at once – very strange. The server cooked as much of our food as possible all at once, (they did all the cooking) She then loaded our plates faster than we could eat it. I was still on my salad and she just dropped a handful of beef right on top of the salad -ridiculous. The management came over to our table a number of times before 9:30 to let us know they stop serving at 9:30 and then stood over us from 9:30 -10:00 telling us they are getting ready to close and we need to finish up. I asked if the pork was ready to eat, they told me no if will take a few more minutes and we could take it with us- Shocking. The entire experience was a very odd rush, the food was sub par, and it was way too expensive for what you get. I will not go any further into the food because its’ just not worth the time, I will just say if you go to this place you are getting charged top dollar for frozen Steakums and a bad attitude. I will look for another spot and you should do the same.

clayfu's picture
Submitted by clayfu (not verified) on Mon, 03/24/2008 - 12:52pm

sucks to be brad =( Buga is pretty much considered the best Korean BBQ in San Diego. Luckily I’ve been treated great there.

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