Unless you are Korean, you probably do not know Kang Ho-dong, a comedian and entertainer who graces the name of this barbecue restaurant, a popular chain in Korea. My first impression of the man was here, his fat face caricatured in many cartoon banners, the menu, and eating instructions. From this, I can tell you he seems to be a joyful guy. And why not, this my friends, is Korean BBQ heaven.
Recently opened, Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong is Northern Boulevard's newest Korean eatery, and by the looks of it, things have hit the ground running. The place was packed on the night our group of four showed up, and we had a 15 minute wait. The interior is very stylish and modern, and has all the latest barbecue and exhaust equipment, it is a marvel of efficiency and comfort.
When you sit down, the table is already prepared with items that come free with any meal. The fire is covered and surrounded by a small bit of kimchi, some peppers, sprouts, and a half circle of egg which will slowly cook during the rounds of barbecue. A plastic container of tea is hot and ready.
An element I thought was beautiful, delicious, and not to mention bottomless, was the baek jeong veggie salad (below), which had a red pepper paste that should be mixed well with the rest. Bites of this with the meat of each course are really layered and full of different textures. Go even further by mixing this with the "secret" house sauce that each person is given.
They bring out all the meat you have ordered at once, so in the beginning you have quite a showcase of what is to come. The staff here will cook everything, so don't be intimidated by not knowing what to do.
We could not decide between beef and pork and ended up ordering a small portion of each, each of which is supposedly good for two people. By the end, we found the math to check out, and were very happy with the portions for the four of us.
I do not know whether the order that each round was cooked in was intentional or preferred, but most of the small beef combo with small boneless short rib ($54.99) was served before the pork cuts.
Each combo has the choice of kimchi stew (above) and brisket soybean stew (below), so naturally we made sure one of each arrived. These are enjoyed separately from the meats whenever you choose, and both are a delight. I would happily come here to eat a bowl of these with rice if I could.
The baek jeong veggie salad mixed together and ready for meat
As more beef and pork rounds were grilled on different surfaces, the staff will seamlessly change the tops and bring clean ones as necessary. Each meat requires a different temperature and cutting at different times. If any mistakes were made, we would not know.
The place erupted in birthday parties at one point in the evening. Lights were flashed and songs were sang. Three tables were brought unique cakes and the staff surrounded them with clapping and songs. At around this time, we were told that our egg was ready to eat, and started digging into the perfectly steamed arch.
We were all blown away by the quality of the meats we were eating. Every cut seemed to be choice and in its prime. The restaurant is not cheap, but the price is very fair for what you are getting here, and the attention to detail that it comes with. A lot of times you can feel a little put off by the competent briskness of a Korean waitstaff, but here the lady who paid us most of our attention was thoroughly amazing each time she came to the table to tinker with our grill.
Pork, baek jeong salad, and secret house sauce dripping off
The last round of prime boneless short rib (above) seemed to be the biggest hit on the table, and was the perfect end to a meal with no shortcomings. Its marinade was so sweet that it almost left the impression of dessert.