Jul 17, 2013

Tactical Review: Honey Pig

I know that the Atlanta food scene is in the mists of a 'culinary renaissance' that’s making noise around the country as more and more innovative choices are being born here. Farm-to-table, five-star fine dining, gastropubs, it’s an exciting time to be a foodie in the South.

But as I live well outside of the city, I’m in a never-ending search to find good eats closer to the house. That’s when it was suggested to me to seek out the Korean barbecue joint called the Honey Pig. It specializes in Samgyupsai (pork belly), Bulgogi (prime beef), and Kimchi served in a myriad of choices.

Honey Pig sits in a sleekly designed strip mall minutes off the freeway consisting of many Asian inspired food destinations. But it’s the silhouette of a snout that catches your attention and leads you inside.

The interior is modern but whimsical with slabs of rock, concrete blocks, dark furniture, and metal peppered with pigs of every shape, size, and color. One can’t help but be drawn to the hoods directly over every table though as the draw of the restaurant is table side cooking. On a side note, the kitchen was NOT open, which has become a big draw for me and I was disappointed it wasn't.

My wife and I were visiting for lunch and henceforth, decided to skip their famous table side buffet (served on a cast-iron lid and an incredible amount of food and money, more on this later). So I went with a Korean staple of Bibimbap topped with Bulgogi.

Cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts, sesame seed studded prime beef (the famed Bulgogi) sitting on a bed of semi-fried rice, it was a well priced bowl of Korean flavors. To add to the party, it was served with an assortment of sides to choose how to accentuate or drive which direction you wanted to take the dish. Roasted eggplant? Fried Tofu? Seaweed? Kimchi? The ability to play with these flavors was a pleasant surprise.

As if that was not enough, they also served a side of miso soup with zucchini, onions and tofu. Though perhaps a tad too salty, the warm soup helped break up the Bibimbap with enough miso to cleanse the palette, a welcomed addition.

While eating our lunch, we were amused with a couple next to us they entertained themselves with the full table side spectacle. And a spectacle it was, as a series of food waves was brought to them, each one beautifully presented in its uncooked state to display the quality of their ingredients. Pork belly, prime beef, shrimp, vegetables, it was an impressive show as we sat there eating our measly dish (by comparison). After speaking to our server, he suggested that two orders will serve 3 adults comfortably, affording all those at the table a chance to sample different Korean presentations. It would be a fun family or date night (though expensive as it roughly $25 per head so beware).

All in all, Honey Pig was everything as advertised, authentic-style Korean served either in a bowl or a top a cast iron cooktop. The recent recognition is warranted (for one, it made Eater’s 38 Essential Atlanta Restaurants) and delivers. Nice modern vibe with a subtle, eccentric flare (and flying pigs galore), this has become another addition to my growing list of local eats, a solid recommend.

Date reviewed: June 2013

3 Alarms

Honey Pig on Urbanspoon

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