Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Honey Pig Gooldaegee Korean BBQ in Ellicott City

Everything is an open kitchen at the Honey Pig in Ellicott City, which has added a casual, boisterous barbecue to Howard County's deepest ethnic cuisine.

Everything is an open kitchen because everyone at Honey Pig grills their own meat.  This is a place to go for fun and meat.  It's a limited menu.  It's a modern, almost-industrial feel.  Tables fill with young people, and servers work the floor offering more meat, more kimchi, more soju.

Honey Pig is a great option for casual food.  It's a lower price point and a smaller menu than standards like Shin Chon Garden.  No bi bim bop, which is one of the dishes that I recommend for a Korean feast.  But that's the point.  Consider Honey Pig like a pizza joint or a burger spot.  You go for the house specialties and the casual vibe -- either an easy meal for the aficionado or a low-key introduction for people new to Korean barbecue.

I'm no expert, so I invited advice in a prior post asking "What Do You Order At Honey Pig?"  The consensus is that you need to start with the pork belly (samgyupsal) and either the brisket or kalbi.  Unfortunately, Honey Pig's service was so fast that I didn't have time to download my own blog page, so we ordered the thin-sliced pork belly and the bulgogi.  Say "yes" to the kimchi that they'll add to your grill. You'll get a small plate of panchan, the kimchi and small dishes.  You'll get a spicy red sauce for bulgogi and a two-sided dish with clear sauces to dip your pork belly.

You can't really go wrong with Korean barbecue.  It's thin-sliced meat.  You can tell raw from cooked.  Let them char, plus the Honey Pig servers will barbecue the meat for you.  They aren't all fluent in English, but they're happy to answer questions.  You can eat the meat straight with just dipping sauce.  You can get a rice bowl, then add little pieces of meat and kimchi to eat from the rice.  Mrs. HowChow and I like the plates of lettuce, and we make little rolls with lettuce, a piece of meat, some rice, some sauces.

Honey Pig offers that all, and next time, I'm trying the spicy pork and seafood recommended by Matthew.  Generally, I agreed with the comments that Honey Pig was less spicy than other Korean places.  The side dishes are smaller and less varied than full-menu restaurants.  But the meat was delicious, and Honey Pig is exciting because it's different.  Korean restaurants run on Rte 40 from Bethany Street to Catonsville, and they truly differ -- even to my uneducated eyes -- in ways that make Korean a broader range than any local ethnic food except for maybe Italian.  Shin Chon or Mirocjo for the barbecue feast.  Rainpia for fried chicken and a beer.  There are Chinese-Korean and cafeterias.  

Honey Pig fills the spot for the casual joint.   A small menu done well, done affordable for the young and the curious.  More Looney's or Eggspectations than Bistro Blanc or Aida Bistro.  Go get some pork belly and make yourself part of the fun.

(Update: I hear on Chowhound that Honey Pig now offers bi bim bap as well as the barbecued meat.)

I'd love someone to guest post about the special reasons to visit other Korean places.  We fall into the Shin Chon pattern.  What dishes or experiences should draw me away to Chum Churum, Yet Nal House, or some other place?

Check out Kevin's great comment about service at Korean restaurants -- pushing the point that you need to ask for items and not expect pre-emptive questions like you get from American waitresses.  Suddenly, it makes sense.  If you're looking for more about Korean food, check some of my prior posts about Shin Chon Garden, the fried chicken at Rainpia, or Bethany Seafood Restaurant.  Or check out all the posts about Korean food.

Honey Pig Korean BBQ
10045 Baltimore Pike (Rte 40) 
Ellicott City, MD 21042 

NEAR: Honey Pig is in the shopping center behind the Double T diner. From east-bound Rte 40, you turn right at the red sign for Quest Fitness and drive up hill. This is west of Rte 29 near the Soft Stuff ice cream stand and the Enchanted Forest shopping center.

 Honey Pig (Gooldaegee) on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how, on blogspot, I can see all the comments posted since my last visit? Sometimes comments are added to old posts and it seems like there's a way to see all the new comments but I can't figure it out.

Anonymous said...

At 'kim bap na ra' (close to the Dunkin Donuts on Rt 40, on the same side as Starbucks and Tutti Frutti), the kim bap of course. I wouldn't get anything else from there, but their kim bap made me appreciate kim bap for the first time.

In Hanoori (next to H Mart), there is a chinese-korean place. Get the spicy seafood noodle soup (number 6 or 7 I think).

Also in Hanoori, at the "regular" Korean place, the soon du boo.

At the cafe inside H Mart, their seafood dolset bi bim bop delivers on flavor and crispy rice. At the same cafe, the summer special 'cold noodles with sliced buffer fish' is my current favorite. It's a little strong on acid (I think the skate wing might be pickled or something), but I can't get enough.

EastCoastMatt said...

glad to read that you had a good experience at honey pig =). It's a good joint, and it fills a different niche. I also love that I don't have to drive down to annandale for it anymore.

BeerGuy said...

I really enjoyed Honey Pig, much more than the other Korean BBQ in the Lotte plaza.

There are actually a few servers who speak decent English at Honey Pig (its a fun interpretive dance ordering when they don't, not making a judgment here just much less stressful communicating when everyone's on the same page), they do the cooking for you which was a little less stressful, not as many sides but good prices, a better atmosphere, more enjoyable overall.

We tried a few Korean beers as well, I think they had 2 or 3 different brands, server lady sort of randomly gave a bottle to each member of our party. Very friendly, casual.

The owner lady who is pictured in their advertisements came around to our table for a bit too, she's assertive and fun.

Anonymous said...

Han Sung Restaurant at Frederick & St Johns for delicious Hae Dup Bap. Same idea as Bi Bim Bop, but it uses 3 different sashimi, roe & lettuce in place of the bulgogi, spinach & veggies you'd get in bi bim bop.

Bethany seafood for lobster sashimi

mr. pineapple man said...

mmmm~ I'm craving some korean food!

Anonymous said...

Honey Pig 2 does serve bibimbop~
so the next time you come, you can definitely try it!

Chris Farmer said...

I had a terrible experience visiting Honey Pig on a Saturday evening 2 weeks ago (didn't find the time to write until now.) After my girlfriend & I were seated, we told our waitress that we've never been before and don't know how the Korean BBQ thing works. She just gestured for us to order, which we did. I ordered the highly recommended spicy pork belly and my gf ordered ribs. The server came back and covered the grill with what looked like super-fatty bacon. She cooks it up & again I tell her that we're new to this experience and don't know what to do. She just stands there with a clueless smile on her face and leaves. Five minutes later she comes back and gestures for us to eat (we didn't know the food was already done!) So we start eating the pork bellies, which were half fat even after charring on the grill. I don't know if they are always this fatty, but we both found it disgusting to eat and proceeded to separate the tiny bits of meat from the fat. After picking through the meat, we sat and waited for the ribs.

After 30-minutes of sitting there while our waitress walked by several times without any eye contact or acknowledgment, I no longer wanted to wait for ribs so I went up to the cashier to ask for a check. It turns out that our waitress gave us 2 orders of the spicy pork bellies instead of one order along with ribs! After explaining that this was an error, they offered a 10% discount on the meal, which I considered an insult. I shouldn't have to pay for food that I did not order just because my waitress made an error! The hostess pretty much admitted that our waitress doesn't understand any English and let us pay for the one entree that we ordered. We left and got some good Korean food at H-mart.

I felt that there was nothing we could've done to have a better experience with a waitress that couldn't understand (or notice) that we were new to the Korean BBQ experience. We won't be going back to give them a second chance.

Unknown said...

Just tried the Honey Pig in Annandale. First time for Korean BBQ for me (they don't really have it where we live). So good. Spicy Pork Belly and Brisket were terrific. But so was everything. Thanks for the recommendation.

alan said...

Food at Honey Pig is good but the service is badddd. Everytime I go to Honey Pig without a korean friend I don't get good service. Sometimes they don't bring me the soup suppose come with the BBQ, sometimes they don't give me the rice after the I order. Everytime I ask for something they always seem like doesn't wanna bring them. I always leave them good tips but I think I'm going to stop going there now.

Judy said...

We've gone to Honey Pig at least 6 times since they've opened. I do speak a bit of Korean, and we've never had a lot of problem with service. They have special chopsticks for kids - chopsticks, the wrapper rolled up and a rubber band, a must for my 4 yr old!

We've gone with just our immediate family of 3, and my Korean mom and even some cousins from Korea. Its pretty good and comments were made about the reasonable pricing.

Service is not usually a problem, and you have to be assertive, but we've had the same server (older Korean lady) at least 4 times and she's great. We don't have to ask for rice, its provided and the kid chopsticks magically appear and she starts cooking the meat without asking.

We've gone for my birthday, New Years Day, mostly on Saturdays, and there is not usually a wait, we can walk right in and sit down.

There is bi bim bop on the menu now, but we're here for Korean BBQ. On New Years they have dduk gook - a traditional sliced rice cake soup eaten on New Years Day. My DH always orders the yaki mandoo and bul go gi. I've ordered the dduk gook, mul nang myeon (buckwheat noodles), kalbi and the chumulak - (steak).

I will say that the mul nang myeon is better at Woo Lae Oak and marginally so at Shin Chon, but you can't beat Honey Pig's prices. DH complained that the filling for yaki mandoo was a bit off one time. The chumulak was exceptional and has quickly replaced kalbi as my favorite dish.

Whereas our "typical" meal at Shin Chon would run us over $60 -without alcohol, we're pretty happy with the under $40 tabs at Honey Pig - even if we do get less banchan. The amount of banchan at Honey Pig vs Shin Chon does not come anywhere close to justify the $20 more in cost per meal.

Since its such a haul to Annandale and Woo Lae Oak in Pentagon City closed, I don't mind some of the shortcomings of Honey Pig in Ellicott City. Its close, its cheap and its good.