Gooldaegee Korean B.B.Q Review

Gooldaegee Korean B.B.Q Review

Annandale is known as one of the top places in the country for good, authentic Korean food. Those who have eaten at Gooldaegee (Honey Pig) Korean B-B-Q understand why.

Located on Columbia Pike, right next to the Bank of America, Gooldaegee, combines traditional Korean barbecue with a funky, club-like atmosphere that caters to the younger generation. The restaurant is open twenty-four hours a day, and offers lunch and dinner entrees, party platters, and a take-out menu to clientele that ranges from teenagers to twenty-somethings to family groups.

To those unfamiliar to Korean cuisine, expect more unusual meat to accompany the traditional beef and pork short ribs on the menu. Belly and intestine appear as often as sirloin or sliced cuts, while octopus and squid make cameos in some dishes. All meals are served with barley tea and panchan, or Korean appetizers that include sticky rice and two different types of kimchi. Meat is grilled before your eyes on the barbecues that sit in the middle of each table. Entrees range from $7 to $33 and arrive in generous portions; sharing is a recommended option. Small party platters cost about $50 to $60, and increasing party size raises the price to around $80 to $90.

I went a less adventurous route and ordered Bulgolgi Chul Pan— sliced beef and fresh vegetables cooked in a special sauce. The main dish was wonderful. The beef was lean and had a smoky, slightly honeyed taste, intermingled with flawlessly cooked onions, peppers, and cabbage. It was accompanied by the sticky rice and two types of kimchi that make up a traditional panchan. The rice was perfectly portioned and had a nice, sticky consistency without being heavy or soggy. It made a fine accompaniment to the meat and the kimchi, a garlicky cabbage dish that maintained its typically fresh and pungent taste. Kimchi is strong and somewhat of an acquired taste, but can be fully appreciated by some. One type had the regular garlic flavor and the other was considerably spicier. Both were served in small containers, but one who has tried kimchi knows that a little bit goes a long way.

The coolest aspect of Honey Pig, which won a 2009 Washingtonian Best Bargain Restaurant Award, is its ambiance, which is especially formatted to please a younger crowd. With its fluorescent lights and intimate black and silver tables, it has sort of a Foggy Bottom appeal that makes it a great weekend hangout, whether for a group or more exclusive company. Smoking is allowed in the establishment, and the smell mingles with that of cooking meat, giving it a grungy sort of atmosphere that is said to be true to restaurants in Seoul. Korean and American pop music is played on overhead speakers, and beer, whiskey and soju, or Korean sake, are available to the over-21 crowd. With a young, urban feeling and delicious, authentic Korean food, Gooldaegee Korean B-B-Q lives up to the reputation set for Annandale restaurants and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for any party.