This week the review focuses on Koreatown's newest barbecue darling, Kang Ho Dong Baekdong. Why is everyone going gaga over a South Korean wrestler-comedian turned restaurateur? Read the full review to find out, or check out our helpful summation below.
Food: The menu at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong revolves around combination meals of either pork or beef (think of cuts like pork belly, brisket, ribeye, or short rib) which are cooked over a metal tabletop grill. Also included are a host of side dishes and accouterments called banchan. In some ways, the restaurant resembles a top-tier steakhouse -- the meat is fine quality -- with the added bonuses of doting servers preparing your food. Don't leave without ordering the "lunchbox," a hand-shaken tin of mixed rice that features an entertaining tableside preparation.
Drink: Here the soju flows like wine, and the herbal wine (bekseju) also flows like, er, more wine. Most tables are scattered with bottle of Korean beer such as Hite or OB, but in our opinion it's the tart fermented rice drink makgeolli that pairs best with the meal. If hard-drinking isn't your cup of tea, pitchers of iced barley tea are provided gratis.
Looks: Loud, smoky, and lively, Baekjeong is a fun place for weekend dinner -- if you don't mind waiting in line (weekdays are much less crowded). The space is rustic and utilitarian, the modern interpretation of a pre-modernized Korean village.
Price: Regular-sized meat combinations cost between $40-45 and easily feed 2-3; large-sized combos feed 4-6 and cost between $80-90. Meat cuts and other dishes can be ordered á la carte, thought the prices tend to be a bit higher that way. But considering the high quality served, Baekjeong is very reasonably priced.
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Takeaway: Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong has quickly become one of the city's most popular spots of Korean barbecue since opening earlier this year, and it's easy to see why -- the restaurant is an ideal blend of high quality food and service with a casual, fun vibe. For fans of the genre, it's a must-try.
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