After watching the video for “Gangnam Style,” I knew that Koreans know how to have a good time. What I didn’t know was how delicious their food is.
Honey Pig is a small chain of Korean barbeques; the location closest to Georgetown is in Annandale, Va., and another is relatively close in Columbia, Md. I chose to visit the former, a rather small, unassuming venue next to a karaoke bar.
When you first step inside, you may be deterred by the blasting K-Pop music and chaotic atmosphere, with chefs and patrons all shouting to be heard. When the host tells you you’re number 43 and number 30 has just been seated, you might be tempted to leave. Do yourself a favor and wait. The wait is a quick one, and in 20 minutes you’ll be sitting around a small table with its own heating plate ready for a delicious meal.
To start your meal off right, order a 25-cent small coffee while you wait to be seated. The sweet coffee is unlike any other I’ve ever had and perfectly whets your appetite. Once seated at your table, you’ll be served romaine lettuce with onions and a light dressing. You’ll also be given small portions ofkimchi, a combination of grilled veggies and soy sauce, to munch on while you mull over the menu.
While I’m all for taking yourself out to dinner solo, you definitely want company here. Meals are served family style, and you and your dining buddies will choose a variety of meats to share. Select two to three entrees for your group to split.
Though Honey Pig offers everything from cow tongue to intestine, I’d recommend sticking to the brisket and tenderloin with some kimchi on the side. The food is prepared right before your eyes as expert waiters dart around, mixing dishes and adding sauces. Once your meal is ready, the waiter serves you a small portion; go ahead and eat the rest as you please. I personally experimented by putting different things on the lettuce and wrapping it up, but you have the freedom to eat as you wish.
There’s nothing quite like eating food as soon as it’s cooked. Yes, you run the risk of burning your tongue since you may be tempted to shove down the delicious meal, but hopefully you’ll be sharing your meal with good company that keeps the conversation going so that you have a reason to pause between bites.
In addition to the meal you watch your waiters prepare, you can also order other dishes from the kitchen. I recommend the kimchi pancakes, which come served like pizza and taste slightly like latkes.
There are absolutely no forks in the entire restaurant, which may be a bit of a concern for those less skilled in the art of wielding chopsticks, but luckily, no one seems to care about table manners. At first, I wasn’t sure exactly how to eat what I had been served, so I just watched the other patrons. If you haven’t yet mastered using chopsticks, don’t worry: At the very least, your fumbling will provide additional entertainment for your company.
What makes the entire experience even better? Even after an excellent meal peppered with who-knows-what kind of seasoning and an atmosphere set by Psy, your total should come to only about $15 a person.
The whole experience of dining at Honey Pig is loud and bustling and just alive. It’s no wonder: Honey Pig stays open around the clock, except for a brief period of closure between 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Mondays. There aren’t a ton of vegetarian options here (Read: Your vegetarian friends will have a terrible time, so save your Sweetgreen trips for them.) and it’s definitely not a health food restaurant. But when the right opportunity comes along, the food is wallet-friendly, served in a fun atmosphere and absolutely worth the drive.