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Honey Pig in Annandale

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Based on incredible an recomendation from our Korean & American dining companions/friends, we decided to brave the wilds of NoVa to try and find Honey Pig last night. The English name is Gooldaegee. It is located on Columbia Pike behind the Bank of America just North of Little River turnpike.

Sitting in a pig fat splattered haze as I wrote this, sipping on a medicinal malt Scotch to cut the richness of our experience, I must say that our first visit to Honey Pig was a resounding success. First of all we found it. Given our typical driving experiences in Virginia, that was a major accomplishment {is there anywhere elst that you can be told to go to the corner of 19th and 19th and 19th but if you are at the corner of 19th and 19th you're lost?}.

The place has techno Korean playing and most of the staff is young, hip and wearing either Honey Pig Teeshirts or torn clothing that costs more than its non torn counterparts. We were seated right away and the waiter told us to ask him if we had questions.

We did have questions so we let him steer us to Lightly Seasoned Beef Rib and Spicy Thick Pork Belly. The former is large chunks of beef rib, marinated and meant to be rolled in lettuce with garlic, peppers, dipped in salted oil. Boy was it good.... much better than the version at Yechon. But the real revelation was the spicy pork belly. Marinated thick slabs of pork belly that were half lean and half fat were dumped on the huge grill along with a pile of quite good kimchee, a couple slices each of some sort of potato and some sort of squash. This was a life changing/affirming event! We spend the next half hour or so taking the thick fatty slabs, growing ever more crisp as time went by, putting a bit of grilled kim chee and then dipping them in the slightly sweet, possibly citrus (yuzu?) enhanced dipping sauce. Ohhhhhh my gosh was it goooooooooood!

$38 for enough food to bring both of our reputable digestive systems to a halt!

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  1. thanks for the detailed descriptions, deangold. i visited a couple of months ago with my Korea husband when they first opened. you're lucky that you got seated right away. we waited an hour for a table. it was definitely worth it....simply sublime. it's the real deal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rheelee

      is this just a really good BBQ restaurant or is this something entirely different?

    2. I noticed that there was some new establishment tucked away back there, thanks for the tip! Pork Belly....oh my.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MsDiPesto

        Pork belley 4 different ways! My Oh MY!

        I have eaten at a lot of Korean BBQ from LA's Koreatown to San Francisco to over half a dozen joints in NYC to Annandale's finest. Honey Pig is a totally different esthetic than any other. The dipping sauce for the pork belly for example, is something I have never experienced before. The Kim Chee on the grill also was new to me. Also the lack of side dishes and the total emphasis on meet as well as the hipness of the environs and clientele were vey different from other joints. Not that there won't be times when going to Yechon for their amazing sides and for their clam miso soup will make me forget about Honey Pig, I forsee this to become my main stop for BBQ.

        1. re: deangold

          You've convinced me it's worth the trip, and I hate going to VA.

          1. re: JonParker

            So do I!

      2. The spouse and I zipped off to Honey Pig and arrived a few minutes before noon on Thursday to find the place fairly empty. We had #3, the spicy pork belly. It didn't match Dean's description---no kimchee or other non-pork items on the grill, and no citrusy sauce. But it was awfully good. Less successful were the mandoo and the haemul pa jon. The pa jon was good, but very short on seafood for a seafood pa jon compared to other places. The mandoo were just too darned huge to handle easily! They were good, but not exceptional.

        We liked the aprons on the wall, waiting to protect patrons' clothing from noodle spatters.

        The staff were very attentive.

        We'll be back. If you can swing it, a weekday lunch seems to be the way to enjoy the food at Honey Pig without hitting the crowds.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PollyG

          We just got back from our second feast at Honey Pig. Arrived at 11 or so and had to wait for a table but b the time I got back from the bathroom Kay was seated. The stools are uniquely uncomfortable, try to get a chair when you go.

          I did verify that we had ordered the #3 so if you didn't get the kim chee you didn't get the full benefit of the deal. We had the #4 pork rib, 4 nice slices of pork blade chop with one section of bone followed by the #9, stomach. There were more side dishes this time and they were better. Our waitress told us to mix the mariated onions with the lettuce & green onion and eat it as a salad and that was really good. Again, there were two dipping sauces, one for the pork and salt and oil for the tripe. As good as the pork rib was, the tripe was even better if not a lot chewier. The darker pieces had such as good smoky taste and almost a crunch. Seriously good! We saw a table next to us get thin pork belly which was round slices and they got kim chee and bean sprouts on the grill. Our waiter from last time recognized us and came over, his hair a nice shade of magenta tonight was more blond last time. I am sure that there were details I have missed but a couple of pre prandial Gin, lime juice & simple syrups (one blue coat, one Aviation) somewhere else and a cass there have left my memory a trifle hazy and my typing skills dubious. And I smell faintly of grilled piggy.

          $38.00 for two entrees, two beers, two rice and a $1.00 table charge.

          1. re: deangold

            I have piqued the interest of Korean friend with this thread. Hopefully I'll be able to report back soon on our feast at the Honey Pig!

            1. re: deangold

              Third trip - thin pork belly and thin sliced brisket. The thin sliced beef may be called brisket but I think it a different cut as the beef was round slices with a big streak of fat in the middle. Let the slices get a little brown before eating dipped in oil & salt. The thin belly was very good, especially if left to get a little crispy. The grilled kimchee again was superb.

          2. I think we are now up to 5 trips here. All late at night and the place is still jumping (after 10:30 on Friday or Saturday nights). We have tried their Chul Pan dishes which are spicy stews cooked on the grill in the leftover juices (OK... fat) from your BBQ. When you have eaten most of the dish, they will offer to add rice and make fried rice. They add more onion, nori and stir fry it. When its done its soft and the nori flavor predominates. As you eat, the remaining rice crisps in the pan and the flavors get smoky and more complex. We sat in a food induced stupor scraping the burnt bits off and eating them grain by grain!

            On the pork belly front, we like the fresh belly best: thick slabs of very meaty belly. The thick is preferred tot he thin for the other types. The brisket and tripe are both outstanding but I would have a lot of folk to eat the tripe. It is a huge order and very chewy. Its a lot of tripe for two. We have yet to try the Kimchee Chigae or the steamed eggs but are going with a group in two week, so I bet we get to those dishes as well.

            1. Nine of us had a very fine lunch here. This is the first time I've actually enjoyed one of those "table grill" bbq places, the others being mediocre to awful.

              We didn't order a great variety, but what we had would be good for just about anyone willing to try Korean food.
              The panchan here is the smallest assortment I've seen in the area, also quite timid, but very high quality including wheat gluten, pickled vegetables, cucumber in red sauce, and marinated sweet onion. Barley tea is weak. We got bulgogi which was brought in from the kitchen that was quite good. And also ordered #s 22 and 24, one spicy squid and one spicy octopus stir fry with pork. These were not ketchupy like at many places and were a very pleasing rendition. The rice dish they prepare for you at the end of the meal to accompany these dishes actually has a lot of rolled barley in it. This is quite spicy, served at a very high temp, and throughly satisfying. The seafood green onion pancake was also very agreeable and is a good order.

              On to the bbq: we had plain brisket (#5) and plain pork belly (#1). I still think most of this grilling at the table is a gimmick, but at least here I understand the distance between hot off the grill and in your mouth is a bunch shorter, so that is a benefit. The best part about the pork belly was that they also put kim chee on the grill. I've never had kim chee served this way before, and it was fantastic. The highlight of the meal. The pork belly was done super crispy, and the brisket just until tender. Alongside the meats, we were served jalapenos, sliced garlic, onions, and herbs to add to the grill.

              I would definitely be quicker to return here than any other Korean bbq I've had, and I gather from Dean's posts above that maybe we didn't even get to the best stuff.