Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong

You know a place is likely to be good when it has a difficult name, and yet it is one of the top google hits if you type in any part of the name… even misspelled. How did google know that I was looking for food?!

You know a place is likely to be good when the line is 40 people strong in sub-zero weather 15 minutes before the door opens, and there’s only enough awning for the first dedicated few.

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We showed up 30 min early and got one of the coveted spots!

You know a place is likely to be good when you’re greeted by this guy at the door:

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Look at how happy he is. He loves the food here. And so do we.

But beware of violent hungry people at the door. They might cut in front of you. Luckily for me, the girl who tried to run in front of me was wearing a backpack with a strap. “get back in line.”

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This place is all about details and efficiency. As the first seating walked through the door, all of the places have been set with the chopsticks and seasoning carefully placed on top of informative diagrams about the food, and all of the sides are already on the table.

There aren’t too many banchan (side plates), but what they do have are good. And the fact that they have egg and corn outweighs all other missing banchan for me.

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The menus are simple. There’s a la carte if you want, but we went with the small beef combo of brisket, seasoned prime short rib, and prime boneless short rib. We weren’t in the mood for anything too fatty, so no ribeye for us tonight.

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There are very clear instructions for how to use the seasoning, but we’ll go over them anyway. I think this is all very clever. Not only are the sides and dipping sauces well made, but having you stir it yourself makes the whole meal more interactive. You actually get to accomplish something! Because a qualified meat griller is making your meat for you at your table at a well timed pace.

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Mix the desired amount of wasabi into your dipping sauce. I poked the whole thing in. As the sheet of paper says… MAXIMUM FLAVOR!

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Mix your radish/green onion/go chu jang. This turned out to be a great addition to the meat. You portion it pretty much just like the picture shows you.

And then I added one more piece of instruction…

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The grill is brilliantly lined with troughs in which to put goodies. They put an umami flavored egg that will eventually turn into a puffy omelet, and cheesy sweet corn.

I recommend you agitate the egg when it starts cooking, and spoon it out when it’s a scrambled egg quality to get maximum fluffiness. I also recommend removing the corn after it’s fully cooked because the corn will burn and dry out!

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I stirred the egg with my chopsticks, and starting spooning them out when they looked cooked like the pieces to the left. I piled it into my bowl, and took over the squash bowl as my main meat bowl.

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The brisket was good. It was a little above average. But I liked that it was thinly sliced, not too fatty, and didn’t break up easily.

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The hood was powerful, but there was also a powerful draft. Our clothes ended up smelling like smoke. 🙁 But this happens at every Korean BBQ place.

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I think this is the option that we picked – the boneless short rib. It wasn’t marinated, and I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the meat. This is the dish that needed the scallion mix the most. However the marinated short rib (you can see it raw in the background on the metal plate) was absolutely delicious! We ended up running out of room and packing it to go.

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The kimchi stew had a nice tomato flavor, but it was overwhelming. We used it as a dipping sauce for the unmarinated steak.

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While eating, we saw the waiters running around shaking and smacking a rectangular tin, and then presenting the contents to the various tables. We had to get one!! I’m not one to subscribe to FOMO, but how can you not! It looked incredibly tiring, and therefore it must be extra delicious.

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The waiter presented us a rectangular tin of rice, egg, spices, and little pieces of ham. And then before I could snap a picture, he closed it and shook it vigorously.

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Tada! The egg was beaten into mush throughout the rice. It was delicious! I couldn’t help but think that maybe a bowl and spoon would be better, but the presentation was great, and now all the waiters will have toned arms. This could be the new Shake Weight.

You can see our seafood pajeon in the back. It was also delicious, but it was like the previous popular kid at school. Once I saw the new and hot tin of rice, the pajeon was quickly forgotten. It was thicker than most pajeons, but still nice and crispy on the outside. Sorry pajeon.

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Here’s the closeup of the gooey tin rice goodness. It was so exhilarating, that after we got home, I realized that this was the last picture that I took in the restaurant.

There are just so many wonderful little touches at this restaurant. For example, the black stools open up to reveal buckets in which to hide your belongings! And when you pack away your food, they line the styrofoam with tin foil. I would rather eat traces of aluminum over melted styrofoam any day. And finally, the waiter gave us another serving of liquid umami egg straight from a giant gold kettle. I cooked and scooped up the good stuff and packed it to go.

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Best to go boxes ever (in a long time). This is by far the best Korean BBQ that I’ve had in the city. I’ve eaten around that block a few times, so I’m just going to go ahead and say that the hype is real. This is the best. But show up early folks, because this is no secret. Better start bundling up for the long wait… or find a friend who lives in Ktown.

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