There's something childish and fun about playing with your food, whether it's dipping into fondue, eating Ethiopian injera with your hands, or grilling your own meat over an open flame inside a restaurant. That last experience was exactly what I had in mind when I headed north on a recent Monday night. If there's another Korean BBQ place in the Seattle area serving charcoal tabletop BBQ besides Old Village Korean on Aurora, I haven't found it yet.
Sure, there are plenty of places that do a top-notch job with the electric or gas grills. They've got fancy set ups and high quality meat and a service staff that treats you like a princess. Old Village lacks these amenities. While the most recent remodel has left it much nicer than the ramshackle strip-mall hole-in-the-wall that it still seems to be from the outside, it's still not the most pleasant space in which to spend an evening. Unless your main goal is charcoal-grilled meat. Then it's the perfect place.
What you forgo in meat quality and consistency in cutting at Old Village, you make up for in rich smells, in the flavor of the smoke in your meat. The service isn't bad, and it's downright efficient. If you're not familiar with Korean barbecue, they make it easy on you, getting the grill all started and the first round of food loaded on.
The galbi, boneless marinated short-rib, is a must for every table, and the seafood combo is a good second choice for a small group or a couple. Because Korean barbecue is aimed at group dining, each item is priced high, as one of many dishes feeding a crew. With the seafood combo, you can try three different items (oysters with peppers, scallops, and shrimp) for the price of one. Even just the galbi could be a meal, though, as along with your charcoal-grilled meats and the entertainment of playing with your food, each meal comes with salad, rice, and an assortment of banchan, the Korean snack-like condiments.