You might have noticed the store under construction for over a year in the “Mitsuwa Plaza” with a picture of a man in front of a pan of Korean Barbeque (KBBQ). For many of us, we have been avidly waiting for the opening for this KBBQ chain called “Kang Hodong Baekjeong,” and as a lover of “All that Barbecue,” “Honey Pig BBQ” and a number of other KBBQ joints, I was thrilled to see it had finally opened this summer.
Entering the restaurant, customers are given a hearty welcome from the employees yelling “Welcome to Baekjeong!” as they cook and serve tables. Unlike other KBBQ chains, all the cooking is done for you by an assigned waiter to your table, so if you’ve ever struggled with cooking meat correctly, this place may interest you. Also, in contrast to the typical side dishes given at Korean restaurants, Baekjeong offers a slightly different variety of options: Rather than rice paper, tofu or potatoes, you are given seaweed, radish, bottomless “계란찜/Steamed Egg Stew” and cheese corn. I was a particular fan of the cheese corn: sweet, yet savory.
Unfortunately, for the meats there is no “all-you-can-eat” option, making the food a bit pricey. Each serving of meat ranges from about $10 to $30, but there are also beef and pork combos for those of us indecisive people unable to choose. I settled for the small beef combo, which offered marinated boneless short rib, beef brisket and prime boneless short rib. The quality of the meat was without a doubt top notch, better than most of the other KBBQ locations in Irvine, but the price left a little hole in my wallet. I especially enjoyed the prime boneless short rib, a slightly thicker cut of meat that was cooked to a perfect tenderness, with no juice spilling out, but with each bite giving you that satisfaction of eating KBBQ.
Oh, and as a little bonus, Baekjeong has slightly different smoke-absorbing system than other KBBQ restaurants in Irvine, better preventing that “aftersmell” you get on your clothes after cooking meat. Overall, despite the price, the restaurant experience and the meat quality is something you have to try.