Lunch Gives You a Small Taste of the Meat Madness at Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong

I’ve been wanting to hit up the Korean BBQ sensation Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong since they opened their first location in Manhattan late last year. Problem is the place is perpetually mobbed and the prices for the delicate cuts of meat are pretty high. When Chris reported that they are now open for lunch, I thought this might be my opportunity.

At 12:30, there were many tables still available and no sign of a wait. The hostess showed me the menu and asked me if I’d be having barbecue or a meal since there are separate table set-ups. The barbecue prices are the same as at dinner so while it pained me to be here and not be sizzling up some beef, I had to concede to the lunch meals.

My table was already set with banchan, including some funky and potent kimchi, thinly sliced pickled radishes, soft nutty tofu topped with a soy-chile dressing, and a huge metal bowl of romaine lettuce tossed with a garlicky dressing. I would guess the lettuce is to eat with the grilled meat that I could not afford.

The menu listed three dishes under the $10 ML limit and three just above it. In another instance I might have settled for the Spicy or Kimchi Cold Noodles but I couldn’t come to this palace of meat for the first time and go vegetarian. So I splurged and ordered the Beef Brisket Soybean Paste Stew for $11.99 (before tax and tip).

Someone nearby ordered the Lunch Box which was shaken tableside and looked like a mess of scrambled eggs, rice, anchovies, and probably some other delectable bites. But I needed the beef.

The stew came with rice and was very hot. It was really comforting with hints of nutty soybean and lots of tofu and vegetables. The tender brisket was slightly overshadowed by the abundance of zucchini, onions, and other hearty vegetables. But I was still very happy to have the brisket. I also discovered a few clams that brought some brininess to the rich spicy stew.

It might be a little too much on a sweltering day, but we haven’t had much of those this summer. The flavors were good and it was hearty enough (along with the banchan and rice) to sustain me until dinner. The only problem is I watched everybody around me grilling up the most seductive slices of beef and pork. Until Zach gives us all expense accounts, I’m going to have to keep saving my pennies for a full-on dinner here. The lunch experience only made me want it more.

Kang Ho Dong Baekjong, 1 E. 32nd (at 5th Ave.) 212-966-9839


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