May 25, 2014

Honey Pig BBQ (Irvine, CA) - Can't Seem to Find a Reason to Revisit Especially with Other Wonderful All You Can Eat Options in OC

Honey Pig BBQ in my memory was one of the decent Korean barbecue restaurants in Los Angeles. That's why when it opened in Orange County, Irvine to be exact, this place has always been on my pocket list ever since. Unfortunately, the food in Irvine location didn't quite live up to its fame and my expectations.

The Honey Pig BBQ in Orange County is located on Jeffrey, between the 5 freeway and Trabuco road. 

Orange County, especially Irvine = great outdoor space. It does come with a hefty price.

No reservation needed for Honey Pig BBQ. However, if you're familiar with this area, you'll noticed that at the same time, there are already people waiting in line for all you can eat Korean barbecue, especially the All That Barbecue about five minutes drive away.

Store design -

Piggy menu -

Click on the image for an enlarged view -

Meat selection -

Lunch menu at a bargained price -

Waitress started the fire for our grill -

She also put a bowl below the hole on the grill, so all the fatty oil will be collected without accumulating inside the grill -

Dipping sauce, sesame oil with salt on the left, chili paste on the right -

I used a lot of chili for Korean barbecue. As of Irvine and Tustin area, I think Shik Do Rak still has the best chili paste compared to Honey Pig BBQ, Gen, and All That Barbecue. It's has more kick and actually spicier with a little bit of tang. 

Miso paste in the front, garlic slices and jalapeños in the back -

Dduk bo ssam, rice paper used in wrapping grilled meat and other side dishes -

Pickled radish wrap, slightly sweet and sourish. It pairs well with oily grilled meat, in which the refreshing flavor balances off the heavy tasting protein -

Lightly seasoned salad in the back and leafy greens in the front, which can be used as other type of wrap for the pork belly -

Before we started grilling any meat, our waitress laid the banchan around the rim of the grill -

Lots of kimchi and lots of bean sprouts, but that's almost about it as for our banchan -

Then it goes the chadol/beef brisket $17.99 -

Brisket is always one of my must have items at a Korean barbecue joint. It's not necessarily my favorite cut of meat, but it tastes very delicious when wrapped in either the rice paper or pickled radish, along with a little bit of kimchi and salad greens. 

Pay closer attention, the fat is dripping away to the hole on the right side. Such a clever design -

You can wrap the beef slices in either rice paper or pickled radish. Some people like the brisket to be just about cooked through. However, try grilling it a little bit longer, the crunchier edge works very well with thinly sliced and slightly cold radish -

Picking up the whole thing requires some practices. The key is don't get too greedy before mastering the skill -

Bean paste soup -

Non-marinated beef tongue with butter $19.99 -

The beef tongue is on the lean side, so spreading the butter all over the grill prevents the meat from sticking.

There are also a few pieces of tofu as one of the few banchan selections -

Beef tongue, always a delicious item to order at a Korean barbecue place -

However, around this neighborhood, I think Gen Korean BBQ has a better version with more tender texture and beefier flavor.

Signature pork belly $19.99 -

The black peppercorn on top is more for garnishing purpose, you won't really taste the spiciness from the fatty pork -

It actually take quite a while to cook through such thickly cut meat. However, the fat gets rendered down during the process so there's no extensive greasy feeling when biting into the pork -

Look at all the oil flowing towards the hole on the grill -

When the pork is about ready, the waitress will help cutting the meat into bite size pieces. You can eat it right away or let the pork belly cook a little bit longer for extra crunchiness -

Grilled pork pairs well with salad greens. Top the pork with additional pickled banchan, perhaps with a little miso paste and chili sauce to spice up the flavor -

I would say along all three items ordered, the pork belly is the only one that got my thumbs up and worth the a la carte price tag. All other things you can simply get at an all you can eat Korean barbecue joint for much less money.

Overall Honey Pig BBQ ain't bad at all, especially for the decent pork belly. It just that the price paid for a la carte items here well surpassed the regular price as to all you can eat Korean barbecue, which is around $20 per person. At an all you can eat joint, you also get to try at least 6 different types of meat for the same price. In addition, there are not too many banchan/little dishes varieties at Honey Pig BBQ. As a result, it might not seem as much worth the money when comparing to other options around the area. 

Friends who tried Honey Pig BBQ actually recommend ordering kimchi fried rice in the end, saying it might be the best dish at the Irvine branch. Unfortunately, the three dishes ordered were already a pretty long stretch for two people. Perhaps next time?

Cindy's Rating: 6 

Honey Pig BBQ 
14171 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92620
(949) 651-9005

Some of the all you can eat Korean barbecue restaurants around Irvine:
$20 for endless steaks, galbi, bulgogi, and more! - Gen Korean BBQ and Yakitori Bar
All that Barbecue (delicious been tongue)
Shik Do Rak (delicious brisket)

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