Dating a vegan guy, it’s not everyday that I go to a Korean BBQ restaurant. When the BF actually agreed to go to Park’s BBQ for dinner this weekend, I jumped at the opportunity before he had a chance to change his mind.
We ordered the bibimbap with vegetables ($10) and told them to hold the egg. Supposedly, this was vegetarian, but it came with a dried radish kimchi that we were unsure of. I think it’s just dried radish and gochujang (a spicy Korean bean paste), but there’s always a slim chance that there’s mashed anchovy or small shrimp in it, although I don’t believe the BF had any ill side-effects. Other than the suspect radish kimchi, there was also lettuce (which wilted nicely after it was stirred into the smoking hot bowl), spinach, seaweed, some sort of Asian broccoli rabe, red kidney beans, and sprouts. Other than the lack of an egg, it looked and tasted like a pretty good bowl of bibimbap.
Not wanting to overwhelm the poor man with too much meat, I somehow refrained from ordering any BBQ to be cooked on the grill in the middle of the table. Instead, I ordered the beef rib soup with dduk (pounded rice ovals), which was a fantastic choice for $10. The broth was rich and had such depth of flavor that I couldn’t stop slurping it up even after I was full. The dduk was too soft, but that’s understandable considering it had been cooking in hot soup for so long. The meat was tender and tasty. The cooked, swirled egg on top just added to the perfection of this bowl. The soup also came with strands of yam noodle inside. It’s going to be tough not ordering this the next time I visit Park’s BBQ.
When we had placed our order, we asked our waiter which of the panchan (Korean small appetizer plates) were vegetarian and he pointed them out when they came. The cabbage kimchi and radish kimchi are definitely not veggie friendly — they have anchovies or shrimp mixed into the paste. Supposedly, the cold Asian broccoli rabe and kabocha salad are both vegan.
Whenever I go to Park’s, I wonder if I’m getting the real deal: authentic Korean cuisine. In the back of my mind, I always think that if the waiters are nice and speak English, maybe the joint is too Americanized to be authentic. Fortunately, there are always plenty of Korean patrons in the restaurant and the food is pretty damn good. Even my Korean friends seem to like this place. Although the prices are a bit higher than that of other K-town BBQ restaurants, the meat quality is better and I’m okay with paying a few dollars extra for a waiter who understands English and is patient with questions about food.