What is Honey Pig you might ask. Honey Pig is a singular experience. I find it difficult to properly describe in words (although, I will try anyway). It is not just a Korean BBQ restaurant, but an experience in Korean culture.
What I like best about HP, is that it was made to please Koreans. When I went, I was one of the only white people there. I always believe that the true way to tell if a restaurant is serving authentic cuisine, is by watching the clientele that frequent the establishment. The fact that 95% (give or take) of the diners were Korean, made me confident that this would be the real deal.
The atmosphere in HP was frantic with servers running about setting up grills at new customers tables, setting the meat to cook, bringing plates full of lettuce, Kimchi, and other accompaniments. The design of this place is very urban and spartan. Nothing was hanging about that did not serve a purpose. It was an environment completely foreign to me. In fact, I felt like this could be the closest to what it would feel like to be in Korea.
Koreans reading this will likely laugh at me. Silly white woman does not realize what Korea is really like. They would be right. But like Korea it felt. It was hot, vibrant, and bustling, and I have not even gotten to the food yet!
When we entered, our table was immediately served individual small dishes with Kimchi, which I had never tried and was nervous about, and other similar style vegetables. There were also individual leaves of lettuce which confused me. There were 2 dipping sauces and sliced onion with chopped (yes more) lettuce.
I had tried Korean food in the past, but this experience was totally new. I felt like a tourist and little out of place, but in a good way. For the 1st time in a very long while, I was giddy, excited about this new gastronomic experience.
I ordered the pork belly, and my friend with me ordered bulgoggi. The servers here move with purpose and focus, and it was not long at all before our grill was sizzling with yummy marinated meats. Served with rice and an additional vegetable mixture that seems primarily mung bean sprouts. I was thrilled to learn that I actually do like Kimchi. The spicy sour flavor goes perfectly when eaten in conjunction with the rice and meat. I also learned the purpose of all that lettuce. By observing the table next to me, the chopped lettuce is eaten together with the meat, almost like a salad. The large leaves are used to wrap various ingredients. I tried both ways and they are fabulous together.
A table neighbor was even patient with me when I inquired about a dish they were eating. It is steamed and made of eggs, almost like an egg souffle. It is called Gaeran Jim. It is very mild and quite fluffy in texture. The fried dumplings are also painfully delicious. There was literally nothing off with this meal. It was perfect.
If you just adore Korean food, or if you are in the mood for a vacation from the norm (according to us that is), Honey Pig is just what you have been looking for. The only downside is can be difficult to communicate with the staff, so be patient, it is all part of the process.
7220 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
Phone: (703) 256-5229