Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shinchon Korean BBQ - Kang Ho Dong 'Baek Jeong' - 강호동 백정 신촌점

At this point in my life, I think I've lived in Shinchon longer than anywhere else in the world, and that's including a lot of places. From the early 1980's when it was a lot of dirt roads and outhouses, to now, where it's paved roads and er... well, it's improved a bit I guess. Kidding, it's not luxury living, but it gets the job done.

To that end, the local specialty, as it were, would have to be Korean BBQ, hands down. Pork, to be specific, nowadays. There are a ton of various eateries in the Shinchon area, Mexican, Italian, mystery genre, lots of American family chains, etc, but for every one of those is a charcoal grilled pork place. To be even more specific, most of these places serve up meat at rock bottom prices, some go as low as 2900W (about $2.50US) a serving, up to about $10-15-20 for beef.

Since we decided to start this blog fresh, I also decided to try out some new places I don't normally go to.
This place - Kang Ho Dong's Baek Jeong, is apparently a chain restaurant, and fairly new. I can't remember it being here a couple months ago.

The overall look of the place is a clean retro pagoda-esque multi-story tower of pork grilling. It looks pretty 1915 'we're sitting on these hand hewn benches grilling clams and dog that we brought in ourself' X Chipotle bare galvanized aluminum decor thing going on, it's not too bad. Lighting is not so bad, so it looks like the kind of place you'd imagine Jackie Chan scaling the side of, upside down, thwarting attackers.

Anyway, onto the food. I can't even remember what cut of pork I ordered - I'm not too picky when it gets this grimy. I am pretty sure it was a back or throat cut, looking back on the pictures, which is typically looked down upon in Korea. Koreans are all about the pork belly - samgyupsal. Then again, they like eating trotters as well, so maybe we all just have certain perceived values surrounding our meat.

(They have a wall-sized menu, and the English titling scheme was surprisingly not embarassing and coherent, presumably so whitey can come in and point to what they want if all else fails)

At these really cheap K-BBQ places in Shinchon, you get the bare minimum of sides, and they make their money off selling you meat and liquor. This place was no different, but they have remixed stuff slightly. The greens - typically presented in basket, raw - were torn into smaller bits and tossed in a light Asian-y garlic dressing, which was not too bad really. Soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, maybe some citrus juice or something, plus a little sesame seed oil. Other accoutrements were dongchimi (pickled white radish pieces, this one served in ice), some really, really, really ripe kimchi (it was almost clear, and yellow), and some dipping sauces and shredded green onions.

The highlight for me though, was the eggs. Not that I really ate them, but they put some beaten eggs and sesame oil into the trough that is normally reserved for the fat dripping off your meat. Voila - you get an instant gyeran jjim X omelette type thing going on. I've heard of this practice before, but it was my first time seeing it in the flesh. It worked out nicely.

Overall, not a bad little place to eat, I guess. The first set of chopsticks I received were dirty, but the staff was generally attentive, despite it being their group dinner time.

Location - on the end of Shinchon 'Myeongmulgeori' between Ewha and Shinchon, directly opposite Outback steakhouse. Tucked about 20 foot into an alley, behind a budaejjigae restaurant. Open 24 hours apparently.

The bill was about 32,000W for 2 people, but we got a jjigae on the side and I drank a couple beers.

Food: 3/5 stars
Ambiance: 3/5 stars
Service: 3/5 stars

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