For the bbq, I chose two meats: their marinated short rib as well as the seasoned prime short rib. The marinade is good, but the quality of the beef was passable during my lunch, there. Let’s politely put it this way: what they call prime quality beef, is not what other kbbq eateries in NYC would call prime. Both the marinated short rib and seasoned prime short ribs did nothing for me, because quality meat was missing in action here, which was unfortunate because the marinade was fine.
Banchans (side dishes that are served with your bbq meats) came in the form of:
-Pickled radish: pleasant, but no more. The pickling lacking depth. This was a world away from the superbly well mastered pickling technique that can be found, right here in NYC, at other Korean restaurants. 5/10
-Marinated cucumber. the marinating technique coming with the same issues that came with the pickling of the radish. 5/10
-Kimchi cabbage: again, and again ordinary / not fully complex in flavors. Kimchi can be eventful, but you would never know that, had this kimchi been your sole reference. 5/10
-A piece of tofu, which nice custardy softness I enjoyed. 6/10
There was also some shredded scallions, some raw egg batter that slowly cooks as your meat is grilling (this is always a fun idea at a kbbq), as well as their secret sauce (I am not a fan) to be mixed with your pieces of barbecued meats in the relevant wrapping lettuce.
Remembering the superb fried dumplings at the nearby Dons Bogam, I ordered some, here, for the sake of comparison: These were tasty, and I loved their non-refined appearance, but they were not in the league of the fried dumplings of Dons. 6/10
Pros: the energy of the place (Fun, fun fun!)
Cons: Most of the food (at the exception of the fluffy steamed egg and pleasant tofu) was forgettable. C’mon folks, at a Kbbq, the meat and the banchan need to leave an impression, …… obviously!!
Overall food rating: 5/10 Culinary-wise, this got nowhere near the best Kbbqs I had in NYC…and the food at Baekjong was marginally cheaper, btw!
Bottom line: Surprisingly (given the showers of praises, online, and its popularity) , this meal at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong did not live up to the hype. It is a very popular location, and many celebrities are big fans of it (they have several pics of celebrities in the restaurant), but that seems to be just an indication of how popular and fun the place is. It is fun, indeed, the waitstaff super friendly, but … I need the food to be part of the party, too.