Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Korean BBQ

For a Southern girl like myself, BBQ is a staple of family gatherings and summertime cuisine. I love to find a perfect out of the way spot with great sauce and the perfect cole slaw. More on that later, this post is dedicated to Korean BBQ. I was first introduced to this by a friend who had moved to Atlanta from San Diego. At first taste, I fell in love with the smokey flavor of the meat, and the cool fresh taste of the condiments.

In case you don't know (because I didn't), when eating Korean BBQ (as I was shown by our great waiter) the meat is grilled at your table over hot smokey coals. It is then typically served with lettuce and an assortment of banchan (side dishes), like kimchi, radishes, bean sprouts, peanut or soybean paste, scallions, and other vegetables. The grilled meat is placed inside the lettuce to make a lettuce wrap and can be eaten with the side dishes.

Hae Woon Dae has been voted best Korean BBQ in Atlanta several years running. This small out of the way restaurant sits in one of the many obscure strips of shops off Buford Highway. I was pleased the first several times I ate there to be the only non-Asian customer. The menu consists of many traditional Korean dishes and appetizers. I prefer the Kimchee Jun a moist crepe like appetizer with kimchi and onions. We have also enjoyed the Goon Mandu a fried dumpling stuffed with beef and cabbage, much like a Chinese dumpling.  For entrees you can choose between traditional rice and stew dishes likeBi Bim Bab, shredded beef & vegetables over rice with hot sauce or my favorite the Dol Sot Bi Bim Bab which is a veggie version of the dish. This comes served in a cast iron hot pot so the rice becomes moist but slightly crunchy.

For the main event though it is hard to pass up the BBQ itself. I pair it with a Korean beer Hite. Guests choose from an assortment of familiar and maybe not so familiar meats. Many feature exception marinades. I recommend the short ribs which are marinated and very tender, also the Joo Mool Ruk  which seems to be marinated beef tips, as well as the Dak Yang Nyum Gui  marinated chicken that melts in your mouth. I have also tried the Dae Ji Bul Gogi  pork marinated and grilled. For more adventurous eaters, they feature tripe, tongue and various seafood choices.

This restaurant is a destination dining experience. I have been taking friends new to Korean BBQ here for a few years. The service is friendly and the food is fun and delicious. Well worth the drive just outside the Perimeter.

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