Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong

photo by Anne Fishbein

The walls of Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong are adorned with comic book–style illustrations of Kang-Ho Dong, the chain’s charismatic Korean wrestler owner/mascot, sweatily grappling pigs into submission, as if your dinner is here because he personally defeated it. However it got here, it’s delicious, especially when washed down with beer or with ice-cold soju that turns to jelly when it hits your glass. When you arrive at your table in the cavernous, bare-bones room, your meal will already be partially set up for you. Around your circular table, which has in its center a charcoal-burning grill, will be various sauces and salads, a slice of pumpkin and other banchan, and around the grill will be a trough of egg and another of corn and cheese, which will cook slowly once the meat you’re about to order hits the grill. Choices here are fairly easy — various cuts of beef or pork, or perhaps a set meal of one or the other (or both). The set meals offer a variety of cuts; we suggest the beef meal over the pork for quality, but go piggy if you desire. Either way, it’s a bargain — the smaller meal (there are two sizes) will easily feed three people, and it comes with a bubbling vat of kimchi stew to whet your appetite. At its heart, Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong is a beer and meat hall, plain and simple. If you like your beer and meat with charcoal smoke, cheesy corn and a soundtrack of loud K-pop, this is the place for you.—Besha Rodell