Rachel and I had never tried Korean barbecue before, so when we saw a LivingSocial deal for the renowned Honey Pig last month, we were instantly swayed. We drove out to Annandale with our friend Betsy to finally see what all the buzz was about.
When we arrived, the place was full to the brim, parking lot inclusive. With K-pop music blaring and colorful menus affixed to the tin walls, brace yourself for sensory overload once you step inside. It certainly brings its own authentic charm to the restaurant as we have never encountered a dining environment like this before. Oh, and they’re open 24 hours a day.
Our wait was only 15 minutes or so, and then we were seated to our table – complete with portable butane grill. Our waitress introduced herself and then handed us a multitude of small plates (banchan) which ranged from kimchi to seaweed to apple & raisin salad.
After looking over the menu, we started off with the seafood pancake. Unlike the rest of the meal, this was the only dish that was prepared in the kitchen. Regardless whether it was cooked right in front of us or in the back, it was a terrific appetizer. The pancake was crispy on the outside but not too greasy. The mixture of shrimp, squid, scallions and carrots was very satisfying while the value was even better – the portion was tremendous for $6.99.
For our entrees, we went with the marinated short ribs, bulgogi, and of course, the pork belly. Our server started cooking away right in front of us, with oil splattering just inches from my face. The short ribs (kalbi) were sweet and savory and I really enjoyed dipping them into the sauce it came with.
The bulgogi (seasoned tender beef) was tender, but incorporating some of the lettuce and garlic helped bring out some more of the flavor. The pork belly (samgyupsal) might have been the blandest of the meats, but that may have been due to the fact that it was overcooked. It was the last meat to be served, but I think our waitress simply forgot about taking it off the grill while we were enjoying our other plates. By the time it was served, it was dry and lacking some flavor. I did however enjoy the kimchi, bean sprouts, and onion mixture that was served with the pork belly.
The service wasn’t the greatest as our waitress/chef was bouncing from table to table, not to mention the aforementioned pork belly oversight. But the price was right, especially with the LivingSocial discount. There were plenty of leftovers between the three of us, but after sharing three different plates of meat, it was hard to look at any sort of protein for a few days. On top of that, you’ll want to air out your clothes as they will instantly reek of Korean barbecue. I would have washed them when I got home, but I was pretty much in a comatose state after ingesting too much meat.