Bring a lot of friends (and cash)
"Korean barbecue is expensive," Hong says. "Meat prices are on the rise." Because KBBQ is a large-format meal that's all about eating as many different foods as possible, it helps to bring more people. Because the more friends you invite, the more food you get to order and try! It's kind of like a pyramid scheme, but you get a ton of grilled meat instead of money. And it also won't screw you over like a pyramid scheme! Hong recommends going with a group of at least four to six people and bringing cash! It's easier than splitting six credit cards.
Use wooden chopsticks for noodles
Hong is quick to point out that there aren't any hard-and-fast rules about whether to use metal or wooden chopsticks when you eat KBBQ. But he does say that wooden chopsticks are typically used for hot or cold noodles, since they grip 'em better. So if you only see metal chopsticks on the table, ask for wooden ones. If the restaurant doesn't have them (which is unlikely!), feel free to tell the server to get a grip, and then wink profusely.
Make a "stand" for your chopsticks
There are a few obvious places to set your chopsticks when you're done using them -- on the side of your rice bowl or directly on the table. But if you want to look like you know what you're doing, Hong says you'll see a lot of Koreans fashion a makeshift chopstick stand from the paper wrapping they come in by folding it up. Or you can just be lazy and put them on the rice bowl. The choice is yours!
Enjoy the banchan (and take advantage of the free refills)
"Banchan are side dishes that differ from restaurant to restaurant," Hong says. The servers will bring them out before the main course, but that doesn't mean they're an appetizer. They're meant to be sampled throughout the meal, as the dishes typically have acid and vinegar. You'll appreciate that when the acid cuts through all the rich meats soon to be on your plate.
And while you may not be able to identify some of the dishes (it's mostly different varieties of kimchee, pickles, eggplant, and other assorted veggies), just shovel that stuff into your mouth and trust that everything will be OK. Because it will! "Be adventurous!" Hong implores. "Try everything once! Nothing there is gonna hurt you." He sounds like a man who's never been hurt before. Hong's favorite banchan is the fermented kimchee, which he says pairs beautifully with hot meat off the grill. And if you finish that tiny portion, ask for more. They'll bring you out as much as you can handle, and it's free. There might not be free lunch in America, but there sure is free dinner.