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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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.

Iron Ice: “Edible Bubble Wrap” Waffle Ice Cream

IronIceRESTAURANT:  Iron Ice

ADDRESS: 13814-D Braddock Rd Centreville, VA 20121

GENRE: Ice Cream (Puffle Ice Cream)

AFFORDABILITY: The Puffle Ice Cream creations are $6.50 each, which sounds a bit pricey. But the scoops of ice cream are fairly large and the puffle cone is filling as well. It is a novelty item, but I wouldn’t say its ridiculously overpriced, especially when you start comparing it to Monster Roll, Snocream, Ben & Jerry’s, Coldstone’s, etc.

PARKING: Large shared parking lot in the shopping complex.

VENUE: Iron Ice has a cute venue. It’s not super large, but there is limited barstool and table seating. It’s white and sleek but also homey which gives it a nice atmosphere. At busy times it’ll definitely be tough to find a seat, which can be a bit frustrating.

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

GENERAL: I think the main attraction is, other than trying ice cream in a puffle cone, is “ordering for the Instagram”. Iron Ice does a good job of making their product look good, which is really awesome. You can order from a list of preset creations or create your own. They also sometimes have special seasonal creations.

Iron Ice also sells chillers which are drinks in bags/puches – think like sweet fruit juices or capri suns – super popular among my friends and fairly tasty too.

What is a “puffle cone”? It is based off of a Hong Kong egg waffle. As the Washington Post put it, “Instead of a Belgian waffle’s grid, a bubble waffle, or egg waffle, consists of an interconnected hive of spheres. Think bubble wrap, but edible (and much less noisy).”

THE FOOD: I’m always a big fan of Fruity Pebbles on ice cream because they are colorful and add a great crunch.

It was a bit tricky to eat at first because the warm puffle starts melting the ice cream fast. Definitely eat the top of the ice cream quickly and then I would recommend taking out the whole puffle cone and eating it like a taco.

The puffle cone itself was soft, fluffy, and absorbed the ice cream drip well. Really enjoyed it.

The cookies & cream ice cream itself was pretty good too. I wouldn’t say it was amazing, but it was good enough quality. Maybe mine was a little bit icier than I would have liked or the texture, which was easy to scoop, was still a bit crispy. The strawberry ice cream was a little bit smoother, but again, that could have just been because I had a bite of that a little later.

I think the warm puffle made up for it and honestly it was really filling all together.

ACCOMODATIONS: Had options that didn’t contain either chocolates or fruit or nuts.

OVERALL: Overall I recommend trying Iron Ice, at least once! I could see myself coming back in the future because it was a tasty and filling dessert and a great place to bring friends who want to try something different. Just don’t expect to find room to sit inside the restaurant.

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K-Bap: Little Piece of Korea by Trump Tower

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RESTAURANT:  K-Bap Korean Cuisine

DATE OF VISIT: 5/17/17

ADDRESS: 62 W 56th St New York, NY 10019 (A block from Trump Tower and a few blocks away from Central Park)

GENRE: Korean Food

AFFORDABILITY: Most dishes are around $10

VENUE: It was a cute little Korean eatery with a nice ambience. Mostly a grab’n’go but had some sit down spaces.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly. Did not take note if there were gender neutral bathrooms.

GENERAL: I was just walking around New York looking for a quick lunch in between obligations and this place looked appealing. It was a nice little eatery with a variety of Korean food options. There was a decent amount of seating for a restaurant of its small size and it seemed to have free miso soup as well which was pretty cool. If you don’t choose the to-go option like I did, there is really nice dishware.

THE FOOD: I ordered a Dumpling Ramyun. I’m not sure why I did, since there were so many other great Korean options and it was really hot that day. It was on the spicy side, and tasted fine for Ramen, but it was literally just Ramen. I don’t think there was really anything special about it except for the vegetables included (and I guess the broth had lots of flavor). The dumplings were tasty, but a lot larger than expected.

I think next time I visit I would order a Bento Box or Bibimbap or Dukbokki. I really do think the food is pretty good here, just that the Ramen was just nothing special in my opinion. Or just a really bad thing to crave on such a hot day (probably perfect for a cold winter day).

ACCOMMODATIONS: Does have vegetarian options.

OVERALL: Decent portions and has some of the more affordable prices for Manhattan. I wasn’t particularly blown away with the Ramen but I think a lot of the other dishes I mentioned above have more potential (other people looked like they had very tasty dishes). Definitely not a bad option and worth a visit!