It is now time for me to find an internship for the summer and I have been scrambling to find different organizations and companies that I would want to work for. Surprisingly, I found a company in Seoul, South Korea to apply to. Of course, rather than being immediately prompted to write a cover letter and fix my resume, the first thought I had was that I had not had Korean food in a long time. And so, with this craving, I headed down to Korea town (which is essentially one road in the area of 5th avenue and 32nd street), to Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong for some Koean BBQ.
I chose Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, because I had read an article earlier in the week about its Chef Deuki Hong who is writing a book about Korean cooking entitled Koreatown, USA to be published sometime this year. The restaurant has a very lively atmosphere and the servers are energetic and engaging. Each time a new customer enters the restaurant to be seated they chant a Korean welcome, which makes everyone smile each time without fail. Baekjeong is an example of traditional Korean barbeque, known as gogigui, which comes with a multitude of side dishes, called banchan.
At the center of each table is a built-in grill to cook meats, which are designed to also cook egg and cheesy corn to be eaten with the meat. Surrounding the grill on the table are small side dishes containing kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), marinated tofu, marinated fishcakes, pickled radish, candied white sweet potato, lettuce, and a green onion salad. At the restaurant I ordered the small beef combo which came with thinly sliced brisket, seasoned prime short rib, boneless short rib (to be cooked on the grill), and an option of brisket soybean paste stew or kimchi stew. The meal cost about thirty dollars per person, which is well-priced considering the large quantity and the unlimited refills of side dishes.
Such a meal is surely an experience. There is a thrill to watching your food cook right in front of you and having such a variety that no bite has to taste the same. There is a multitude of textures (crunchy, chewy, soft, and dense) and flavors (tart, spicy, salty) throughout the meal. Baekjeong ensures good quality products, which is obvious in the taste of the food and the disposition of the customers. If you’re wondering where to take a big group for a unique dining experience, definitely consider Korean barbeque!