Sfoglina: Pasta Pasta Pasta House

Sfoglina Pasta HouseRESTAURANT:  Sfoglina Pasta House

ADDRESS: 4455 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

GENRE: Italian

AFFORDABILITY: Most entrees are in the mid-20s or more and the portion sizes are filling, but not huge.

PARKING: Paid street parking available and they will validate up to 2 hours in the nearby Colonial Parking Garage (4445 Connecticut Ave). Also a very short walk from the Van Ness metro station (Red Line).

VENUE: The restaurant has a very nice, cozy, upscale wooden interior that provides a nice intimate setting. However, it’s not too formal that it could serve as a great restaurant for a fancy meal or a nice lunch to catch up with friends.

GENERAL: We did not come in with a reservation but were seated quickly. Offered complimentary bread and our waters were refilled often. The food came out quickly as well – overall good service!

THE FOOD:  It’s a pasta house so a majority of the items are (shockingly) pasta, but there are some non-pasta items as well. Everything on the menu looked absolutely delicious. While portion sizes are not huge, it seemed that each entrée would be filling which was great. I was torn between ordering a couple of pastas, but I finally decided on the Neopolitan Macheroni (Pesto Genovese, Artichokes, witih Pine Nut Crumble).

I really did not know what kind of pasta to expect (I saw Macheroni and thought Kraft Mac’n’Cheese pasta size) and ended up with these large looped pieces that were great. The pieces might have almost been too large, but that also could have been me still recovering from a wisdom tooth extraction. The pasta was cooked the perfect amount and the pesto was delicious. The artichokes were nice and soft (but still had a firmness to maintain its shape) and did not have an overpowering flavor. The pine nut crumble added a nice crunch, but I wasn’t really feeling it. Part of that could have been due to my dental procedure, but the change in texture was still much appreciated from the overall softness of the dish.

I definitely would recommend it, and I hope to try some of the other pastas and seafood pastas they offer soon!

ACCOMODATIONS: A large array of vegetarian options available. Like surprisingly large array.

OVERALL: I was satisfied! It’s a fancy restaurant so definitely on the pricier side, and the portions won’t stuff you, but you won’t leave hungry. The quality is really high and it was a good meal. Everything look delicious on the menu that I really wish I could order it all. It’s definitely a cool restaurant with great vibes to try out and bring friends to.

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Nick’s Riverside Grill: Dining on the Georgetown Waterfront

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RESTAURANT:  Nick’s Riverside Grill

ADDRESS: 3050 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (On the Georgetown Waterfront next to the fountain)

GENRE: American – Seafood

AFFORDABILITY: More on the expensive side for the quality and quantity of food you receive, but that’s probably to be expected given that you are eating on the water in Georgetown. You are paying for the view.

PARKING: Limited street parking available not too far away, but there are plenty of parking garages. A little less than a mile from the closest metro station (Foggy Bottom – GWU).

VENUE: The main reason to eat at Nick’s is the Georgetown view that can’t be beat. Right on the Potomac River with views of the Kennedy Center and the Georgetown Fountain. There is quite a bit of outdoor seating and an outdoor bar. For those who don’t want to deal with the heat, there is also indoor seating and an indoor bar.

GENERAL: I came here for lunch and drinks with coworkers on a sunny June day, ready for a good time with great company. We had a group of over a dozen and did not come in with a reservation. Arriving in the early afternoon on a Friday, we did not expect to have too much trouble finding an outdoor table. There were plenty of open tables but it seemed to be a bit of a struggle for them to combine multiple tables to accommodate our group (we definitely needed to add another table to accommodate everyone and it came to the point where we were going to ask if we could move the table ourselves…) The Hostess and our Server, however, were both kind and service was good – no complaints there.

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View from the outdoor bar

After the meal, we moved to the outdoor bar area and the bartenders were great – social, conversational, and they made some quality drinks. The outdoor bar itself is a little bit closer to the fountain; you still get a great view of the water but it’s a little bit cooler with some shadier spots.

THE FOOD:  As far as appetizers go, we ordered the Chicken Wings, Charcuterie Board, Crispy Calamari, and the Chicken Nachos. The wings were a solid choice – crispy and flavorful and a decent portion. The Crispy Calamari was standard, fulfilling your deep-fried cravings. The Charcuterie Board was kind of disappointing. It just felt lacking in quantity for the price and tasted pretty average. The Chicken Nachos was this colossal dish of nachos with a ton of toppings. Honestly, it could have been a person’s meal. It was definitely delicious and a worthwhile appetizer.

There were several intriguing options to order from for my entrée. I was so tempted to try one of the Indian or Asian dishes; but I realized they would probably be subpar. I ended up ordering the Crab Cake Sandwich (I was by the water, the seafood had to be great, right?) I didn’t come in with high expectations, and was pleasantly surprised with how good the crab meat was. The sandwich itself was pretty great. I’m not a huge fan of coleslaw and the slaw that came with the sandwich did not convince me otherwise. The fries were super disappointing; among the worst I’ve had at a restaurant. Definitely frozen and they gave so many and they were just not tasty or filling. Another thing that disappointed me was that I think seven people at my table ordered the Crab Cake Sandwich and only about half of them came with the white dip/spread for the sandwich.  But overall, the crab meat was absolutely delicious, and I highly recommend ordering the crab cake sandwich or something with crab meat.

For drinks during the meal, I ordered a Ketel Crush and a Dark’n’Stormy. Both were solid cocktail choices. Later on at the bar, the bartenders did a great job of making a variety of drinks

ACCOMODATIONS: They have vegetarian options available.

OVERALL: To quote my coworkers paraphrasing me, “The view was good. The service was pretty good. And eh, the food was pretty good.” Jokes aside, I really did love the crab cake and the venue/bar facilitated a great time with a large group. And of course, the view was phenomenal. It definitely wasn’t the best meal overall, but for the view and experience with friends, Nick’s is definitely worth coming to!

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Meokja Meokja: My New Favorite DC-area KBBQ

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RESTAURANT:  Meokja Meokja – Korean BBQ (“Let’s Eat”)

ADDRESS: 9619 Fairfax Blvd Fairfax, VA 22030

GENRE: Korean BBQ

AFFORDABILITY: This is a pretty tough question to answer for Korean BBQ – it really depends on how much you order and how many people there are. But for the amount of meat and sides my party ordered, Meokja Meokja is comparable to other KBBQ restaurants in the area. Meokja Meokja is in the style of Honey Pig in that it is not all-you-can-eat. However, they have really great deals on their combos.

PARKING: Limited parking in front of the restaurant, but plenty of parking in the lot behind the restaurant (in the bigger shopping complex). Note that Meokja Meokja is not in the bigger shopping complex!

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VENUE: The venue itself is a lot bigger from the inside than it looks from the outside. They have a cute little waiting area with booths, a fun sign, and mesmerizing TV display of futuristic traffic (It sound weird, but I could not stop staring), and a complimentary coffee machine.

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Mesmerizing never-ending traffic video

It was nice that it bright inside and the music was good and not too intense for the atmosphere.

GENERAL: I went with a group of friends who are very experienced with the KBBQ options in the area, from Iron Age to So to Honey Pig to Kogiya to several others. It was cool to find a quality place not in Centreville or Annandale.

The service was absolutely phenomenal! Hopefully it continues past their soft opening. David Y. was our server and he was great. Friendly, conversed with us, refilled our side dishes that we were demolishing quickly before we even asked, answered our questions, had perfect timing in beginning to cook more meat for us: he was just on the ball! The other servers and hosts were also extremely friendly. The service alone definitely was better than any other KBBQ restaurant I have been to, so I very much appreciated that. Reading other reviews, it seems like other people also agree that the service here is by far the best compared to any other KBBQ restaurant in the area.

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THE FOOD:  For four people we order the Large COMBO 2 and a Seafood Pancake.

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The water came out in a bottle that was really cool (almost thought it was complimentary alcohol). The cups were super small (could be bigger, because we were constantly refilling), but they were also kind of cool at the same time.

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The meal comes with Banchan which are Korean side dishes that are usually free at KBBQ joints. They vary per restaurant, but Meokja Meokja had a ton, which was awesome (makes you wish you had one of those spinning tables to keep passing them around). The Kimchi, Kale, and Mashed Potatoes were alright. A ton of onion, which was nice. I think the highlight for me was the radish and the other dipping sauce with the onions (not sure of the name), which I thought were extremely delicious. I think my biggest recommendation for them would be to provide everyone with the sesame oil, or at least one for each pair of people. I think that seems to be a more common practice at other restaurants (but they were super expedient in bringing out more for us and gave everyone that sauce with the onion).

Soybean Soup and Angry Egg are complimentary for orders over $30 and the Kimchi Pancake and Corn Cheese are complimentary with all COMBO orders. I didn’t really care much for the soup, but the Angry Egg was nice and fluffy, the Kimchi Pancake was solid, and the Corn Cheese was so good. They kept the cheese gooey by putting it on the stovetop and I couldn’t get enough. Some of my friends wished the corn was roasted, but I was fine with it the way it was.

The Seafood Pancake was really good. Compared to Honey Pig’s, it was crispier, had more veggies, and was less doughy. It was great; I think I liked Honey Pig’s more, but still very happy we ordered it (and it was super large and filling).

COMBO 2 was definitely a good decision. At first, we didn’t think it would be enough meat, but it definitely was.

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Meat!

The Galbi (Marinated Short Ribs) were some of the best I have had at a KBBQ place. It had a nice sweet and savory flavor and was just chewy enough. I could not recommend this meat enough and I really hope they keep getting the same high quality meat.

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MORE MEAT!!

The Bulgogi (Sliced Marinated Ribeye) was really nice – perfect amount of chewiness and had a great flavor.

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Meat again!!!

The Thick-Cut Unmarinated Pork Belly was fantastic – just fatty enough and nice and filling.

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So much meat!!!

And the Thin-Sliced Brisket – also nice and savory.

Again, I loved all the meat and the order they cooked them for us was perfect. The Galbi was by far my favorite, but the others were still really good too. My biggest fear is that like many of the KBBQ restaurants in the area, quality might go down over the years. But right now, the meat quality is really high and definitely worth every penny.

Almost wish they had some sweet ice cream or iced coffee to wash down everything afterwards. That would have been the cherry on top.

ACCOMODATIONS: Wheelchair friendly. Restrooms (nice quality ones, by the way) are not labeled as gender neutral, but there are two individual single-occupancy restrooms.

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OVERALL: Other than some minor food-related recommendations, the only area for improvement would be that because of the size of the tables I guess, occasionally a sizzling hot drop of water(?) would fly off the middle and briefly hit our arms. Could be the tables were too small, and it only happened a handful of times to me, but definitely a safety concern. In terms of safety though, they had all the safety sprinklers and everything above each stove top – that’s probably standard but for whatever reason I have never noticed that at any other KBBQ restaurant, so that was nice.

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safety!!!

So yeah, there were definitely some issues, but overall the experience was so great I can look past all the issues. The meat was phenomenal and hopefully the quality stays this high through the years. The service was expedient and friendly. I’ll definitely be back and I could not recommend trying this restaurant enough if you’re in for a KBBQ fix! My new favorite KBBQ in the area!

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American Tandoor: The Indian-American Fusion Restaurant That Was Better Than I Expected

American TandoorRESTAURANT: American Tandoor

I want to preface this review by saying I am an extremely harsh critic of Indian restaurants given the fact that I can get any authentic Indian food made amazingly well at home and I’m often eating at these restaurants with those very chefs.

ADDRESS: Tysons Corner Center 1961 Chain Bridge Rd, Tysons, VA 22102 (2nd Floor next to entrance near Chipotle, McDonalds, Shilla, etc… They have some pretty heavy advertising in that section of the mall so you can’t miss it! Just don’t get it confused with the Indian Street Kitchen right outside of it)

GENRE: Indian (though I would say it’s an Indian and American fusion restaurant)

American Tandoor Venue

VENUE: The venue was very nice, with lots of traditional Indian décor and ample indoor and outdoor seating. Clearly a lot of effort went into it and it was elegant but not too formal. There was a view into the kitchen, which was also cool. The AC was blasting, but the warm Indian food quickly solved that problem!

GENERAL: Seating was quick and service was phenomenal. If you get a chance, definitely ask for Aly as your server, she was fantastic and my family very much enjoyed her energy and thoughtfulness. It was pretty busy for a late Sunday afternoon, which is always a good sign.

AFFORDABILITY: Although we ate at the same time as the Sunday brunch buffet, we opted not to go with the buffet option. $25 per person was a ridiculously high price for an Indian buffet (sorry, but Tysons Corner is not DC and I wasn’t willing to risk paying those prices), especially for an Indian restaurant that we had never tried before.

The entrees aren’t too expensive – mid-teens to $20. The quantity of food is appropriate. It’s pretty comparable to other Indian restaurants in Northern Virginia

American Tandoor Food

Food Spread

THE FOOD: We ordered the Chicken Tikka Naanwich, Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Chops, and two orders of Traditional Naan. Our server implied that many guests order Naans as breads to be eaten before the meal, but we made sure to request it to be brought out with the meal to eat with the Chicken dish. Kudos to the server for checking with us as to when we wanted it.

American Tandoor Chicken Naanwich

Chicken Tikka Naanwich

The Chicken Tikka Naanwich (clever name!) was essentially a marinated chicken wrap in naan with masala aioli. It was honestly really good and I think it is probably one of their more popular dishes. It was simple, and really not too difficult to recreate at home. I will admit the masala aioli was kind of flavorless and very much overpowered by the marinated chicken, but it added a nice moistness to the naan. The fries that came with out were above-average as far as restaurant fries go. It came with an “Indian Ketchup” which was a tamarind-based ketchup that was very sweet with a spicy after taste. Tasted good and was especially useful as a dip for the Naanwich (again, the aioli didn’t really add much flavor and the chicken wasn’t with a curry in the naan so it was a bit on the dry side). It was a simple Indian-American fusion item (almost to the point that I almost wish I ordered something I bit more complex), but it was filling and delicious. Definitely something I would recommend!

American Tandoor Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

The Chicken Tikka Masala… was good. But it was most certainly not an authentic Chicken Tikka Masala. Just a curry chicken. It was a good quantity to share between multiple people and tasted decent. The chicken were breast pieces that were a great size and not overcooked – being a chicken thigh fan myself, it was great to find an Indian restaurant that cooks breasts the right amount and cuts them to the right size. I don’t think there were any major complaints from my family – a good chicken curry dish, just not an authentic Chicken Tikka Masala… (which is a common problem with many Indian restaurants in the area).

American Tandoor Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops

We ordered the Lamb Chops well done. They were good and had a really nice Dijon sauce with it. The quantity was a bit small, but it came with two sides so we ordered Cumin Potatoes and Dal Makhani. The Dal Makhani was really nice (soupy with a great lentil flavor). The Cumin Potatoes, as our server suggested it would, tasted like home-style fries. It was not spicy which was exactly what we were looking for. Overall happy with this dish.

American Tandoor Dal Makhani and Cumin Potatoes

Dal (Lentil) Makhani left and Cumin Potatoes right

ACCOMODATIONS: They have vegetarian options available. They are also able to control spice levels for many of their dishes.

American Tandoor Fries

Fries with Sweet-Spicy Indian Tamarind Ketchup

OVERALL: Honestly we were satisfied. The three entrees we ordered were filling for four people. I’m a pretty harsh critic of Indian restaurants, but the venue was really nice, the service was phenomenal (ask for Aly!), and it was reasonably priced with good food. I also appreciated the amount of effort they put into presentation – some of the food items seemed to have some more traditional presentations that take more effort, and I definitely noticed that. This is definitely one of the few Indian restaurants I would feel comfortable bringing back my friends to (both Indian and non-Indian).

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Creamline: Boozy Shakes, anyone?

20180104_170351RESTAURANT:  Creamline

DATE OF VISIT: 1/04/18

ADDRESS: Chelsea Market 75 9th Avenue New York, NY 10011 (Two locations in Manhattan)

GENRE: American – Burgers & Shakes

AFFORDABILITY: Pretty decently priced. $6.50 shakes in NYC are pretty good considering its Manhattan. Though the Boozy shakes do seem expensive when you compare it to a regular shake, given that they are smaller than regular shakes with just a shot of alcohol in them. The Chelsea Market location does have a “Chelsea Combo” you can take advantage of as well.

VENUE: It’s an open-air restaurant in Chelsea Market with a classic diner feel. There are standing tables, bar seating, high tables, and regular tables. It’s a nice venue in Chelsea Market, but probably fills up quickly during peak hours.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

GENERAL: Creamline prides itself on being locally sourced and all-natural with their burgers, fries, and shakes. My friends and I only ordered the shakes, and it’s pretty cool because they have some alcohol infused shakes aka Boozy Shakes.

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THE FOOD: I ordered the 16 oz. Two-Cookies Shake. The two cookies seemed to be crushed Oreos and crushed wafer-type cookies. The milkshake was absolutely delicious – nice and creamy. I definitely do recommend. Do it was frustrating that the cookie pieces got way too big for the straws towards the end (ended up just scooping them out with the straw, which was delicious).

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My friends ordered the Honey Nut Boozy Shake. Unfortunately, they were out of Amaretto (it was a Thursday late afternoon… I guess they sold out but slightly disappointing nonetheless) and they replaced the Amaretto with some other liquor. My friends said it was strong, but probably would have tasted better with the Amaretto. The boozy shake idea is a cool concept though and it’s priced the same or cheaper than a lot of NYC cocktails so can’t really complain too much about the almost $13 price. You can do custom combinations too (one side of the restaurant is literally a bar with milkshake offerings). Plus it comes in a nice cup (that’s actually plastic). That was both unexpected and cool. Shame it’s smaller than a regular shake though.

ACCOMODATIONS: They have vegetarian burger options.

OVERALL: Overall, I definitely recommend! If you’re in Chelsea Market, a shake plus some mini-doughnuts from the Doughnuttery make perfect desserts. You definitely will not be disappointed with the creaminess! And of course, the Boozy Shake concept is pretty cool!

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Zinburger: Good Vibes and a Tasty Meal

Blanco BurgerRESTAURANT:  Zinburger

DATE OF VISIT: 1/14/18

ADDRESS: Barracks Shopping Center 973 Emmet St N, Charlottesville, VA 22903

GENRE: American – Burgers & Bar

AFFORDABILITY: The burgers range from around $10 to $15 which is borderline starting to get expensive for a filling, gourmet burger with no sides. A little on the pricier side compared to some other Charlottesville burger places, but you’re not going to walk away hungry. Shakes are about $6 but are quite large and filling.

VENUE: The restaurant was large and had an earthy and contemporary bar feel. It was really nice, with large fireplaces near outdoor seating and a variety of indoor seating including a full bar, high tables, low tables, and booths. Definitely different from a lot of the darker-themed burger places in Charlottesville.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

GENERAL: I came into Zinburger with literally zero idea of what the restaurant was and I was really pleasantly surprised. I walked in right after a basketball game finished and so a huge crowd was rushing in. They handled the influx of people beautifully (also props to them for being open late on a Sunday night).

I didn’t catch my server’s name, but he was absolutely incredible. He explained to my table the background of the restaurant, explained the VIP rewards program (which is pretty awesome, I recommend signing up), and went through the menu options. He double checked for allergies and was super accommodating to all of my table’s needs. He even reassured me when he handed me my shake that one of my substitutions was made even though it didn’t look like it was, which was really nice. He really set the tone for a great meal and I was super appreciative of that.

It was also cool how they have Burgers of the Week, Shakes of the Month, and other specials that change up their menu everytime you come.

Truffle Fries

THE FOOD: For appetizer, my table ordered Truffle Fries and Sweet Potato Waffle Fries. They were good and as expected. I especially liked the truffle aioli dipping sauce, that was especially tasty, even with the sweet potato fries. I guess the only downside is that the burgers themselves do not come with fries or any sides so you have to pay more if you want some.

Sweet Potato Waffle Fries

For my burger I ordered the Blanco Burger (Pepper Jack Cheese, Pico De Gallo, Guac, Lettuce, Chipotle Mayo) with a Turkey Patty. From what I understand, they create all the patties (beef, turkey, and veggie) in the restaurant. It was probably one of the tastiest patties I have ever eaten. Turkey can be especially dry and they did a superb job making it juicy and soft and absolutely scrumptious. Overall the burger was really tasty. The chipotle mayo wasn’t overpowering and the pico de gallo and guacamole tasted fresh. Though I think next time I’m going to order the similar but slightly different El Diablo (Fire Roasted Jalapenos, Pepper Jack Cheese, Braised Onions, Lettuce, Chipotle Mayo).

Bars of Zin Shake

For my Shake I ordered the Bars of Zin (Chocolate Ice Cream, Hazelnut Spread, Kit Kat Pieces, Fresh Whipped Cream) but I substituted the chocolate with vanilla ice cream. That substitution was definitely a good one, because I think otherwise the shake would be far too chocolatey. I didn’t expect the kit kats to be blended in the shake, but that was really nice because it added a slight chocolate-grain texture with each sip. It was a great filling shake and I definitely recommend.

ACCOMODATIONS: They have veggie and turkey patties that can be substituted in all their burgers. They also will try their best to accommodate to food allergies and were really great about making substitutions as needed.

OVERALL: Overall, I recommend! It was a great full-service dinner experience for a really nice price. The TVs are broadcasting sports on the walls making it a great place to grab a drink or have a nice meal while watching sports. It’s also a very spacious restaurant which was nice. On a warmer day, I think I definitely would want to sit outside next to the fancy outdoor fires, I think that would be a lot of fun. It’s a good place to get a tasty burger and delicious shake in a nice, clean restaurant more upscale and warmer ambience in Charlottesville.

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Honey Pig: Centreville Korean BBQ by the Dish

Honeypig Food

RESTAURANT:  Honey Pig Korean BBQ Centreville 

DATE OF VISIT: 7/2/17

ADDRESS: 13818-B Braddock Rd Centreville, VA 20121 (Four locations in the DMV area)

GENRE: Korean BBQ

VENUE: The restaurant is a lot larger than expected. Industrial feel and loud.

Honeypig Meat on Grill

Meat on the grill — they will help cook it for you!

GENERAL:  Getting seated was an efficient process. Picked up a ticket and waited for my number to appear on the LED-screen. Only took a few minutes. At this Korean BBQ restaurant you order appetizers and meat by the plate and the servers will come and cook the meat for you on the grill.

AFFORDABILITY: This is a tough question. I am a big fan of Korean BBQ and often go to the all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurants which often are around $25 to $30. I spent $25 here at Honey Pig and was definitely filled and the food was delicious. Some parts were definitely tastier than the all-you-can-eat restaurants, but I don’t know if that really justifies coming here and spending as much or more for less variety than the Korean BBQ buffets. Might be more worthwhile for larger groups of people who aren’t looking to get absolutely stuffed.

THE FOOD: We ordered Seafood Pancake and for our meat, my friend and I shared the boneless rib. We also both had rice, which is a little extra money.

Honeypig Banchan

Banchan

The meal comes with Banchan which are Korean side dishes that often are free at Korean BBQ joints. They vary per restaurant, but the ones here felt pretty standard for the area. The kimchi was definitely the best I have had! The salad, steamed egg, mashed potatoes, and sauces were also great.

Honeypig Seafood Pancake

Seafood Pancake

The Seafood Pancake was the size of a small pizza, definitely way bigger than expected. It tasted absolutely great; super filling and a great amount of seafood in the pancake. Crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Definitely will order again.

The meat tasted great too! It was cooked just right, not too chewy and not too tough.

ACCOMODATIONS: It is a Korean BBQ restaurant but there are vegetarian options for those who need them.

OVERALL: Enjoyed this restaurant a ton and do recommend! Many of the side dishes and the food was definitely high-quality; I probably enjoyed it more than some of the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecues.

Though with the comparable prices and the lack of variety, I don’t know if I can justify coming here too often unless I definitely know I do not want to eat a buffet. At least not without a large group of people. May return for that Seafood Pancake though, absolutely delicious!

I hear they give out Groupons a lot, so that definitely might make it worthwhile.