Sensory overload is really the only way to describe Honey Pig, the popular 24-hour Korean BBQ restaurant in Annandale, VA. The second you walk through the door, Korean pop and Top 40 music blasts from the speakers. Waiters rush out of the kitchen with platters of raw meat and boiling pots of kimchi soup. Busboys clean off tables and throw dirty plates into carts at lightning speed, nearly crashing into the customers waiting for the table. It’s loud, crowded, and disorganized, and there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to getting a table. (Even though there is a host who keeps a list, it seemed to me that he just chose at random who to seat–or the more savvy patrons just sat themselves while he wasn’t looking.) Through all the chaos, hungry diners can see, hear and smell the delicious sizzle of meats hitting the grill.
The main attraction at Honey Pig is the wide selection of Korean BBQ, expertly grilled at your table by one of the many adept Korean waitresses. This isn’t the refined, haute Korean-fusion cuisine you’d find at David Chang’s Momofuku Ko; it’s more the comforting, tasty food that Korean moms are so good at effortlessly whipping up. We started off with kalbi–beef spareribs marinated in soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. At $21.99, it was one of the most expensive dishes on the menu, but totally worth it. The meat was juicy and tender, and I found myself gnawing on the bones, trying to savor every last bite.
Next came the pork belly and pork neck ($12.99 each). Both were sparingly seasoned, but full of rich, smoky flavor. The pork belly was cooked to just the right crispiness, with a nice crunch at the outset that dissolved into luscious fat. I was a bit mortified to see just how much fat dripped into the pan (and didn’t even want to think about how much fat I had just imbibed), but hey, you have indulge once in a while, right?
Other dishes were less memorable. Dumplings ($6.99) were all right, but a tad to greasy for my taste. The meat-and-vegetable filling was also a bit bland. The scallion pancake ($6.99) didn’t stand out either. I found it starchy and just monotonous to eat. The meal also came with rice and banchan, which are traditional Korean side dishes. At some Korean restaurants, the banchan is the star, with tons of different offerings from spinach cooked in sesame oil to steamed sweet potatoes to kimchi that could constitute a meal in itself; that’s not the case at Honey Pig.
Next time I go to Honey Pig (which I hope will be very soon), I’ll stick with the meat offerings and perhaps one of the steaming bowls of kimchi jigae (kimchi stew with tofu). And of course, a couple bottles of soju (Korea’s answer to vodka) to wash it all down and get in the mood for some karaoke at the bar next door.
Annandale, VA 22003
Open 24 hours