I have eaten at this giant of a restaurant, MoMoYa/Golden Buddha/Peach Garden, a few times before. It’s close to home, has an extensive, and pretty authentic, menu of Japanese, Chinese and Korean dishes (Bibimbap anyone?), and has an awesome glass ceiling in the “Chinese side.”
But I have never ventured into the far back room for Korean BBQ. What a pleasant surprise when, at 10 pm on a Saturday night, we stopped in and they were willing to fire up the griddle. Our jovial host of Korean origin was a delight, joking and conversing with us in the all-but-empty room. When I asked if I could take pictures while he cooked, he said “sure, but not my face. Otherwise some woman may come and try to marry me.”
The first items to the table were, of course, the banchan (sides). Kimchi of the cabbage and cucumber varieties, daikon with carrots, sprouts and seaweed salad. Then the steaming rice and lettuce for wrapping the meaty treats awaiting us.
Our chef brought out a mountain of marinated meat. It was a beautifully arranged platter of beef, pork, chicken, prawns, onions and mushrooms, all flavored with different combinations of spices. Yes, we ordered the combo meal. We had to try everything! He even added a serving of tofu to round out the experience.
The cooking surface was a huge cast iron “lid” placed over a gas burner and oiled down with butter. As the meat was applied to the hot surface, it sizzled excitedly, and smelled oh so very good.
Our host tended the meat very carefully, clipping the larger pieces with scissors to make them more chopstick friendly. He divvied out the portions evenly between us, and boxed up what wouldn’t fit on our plates.
It was so good. I had forgotten how good the seared meat was wrapped in cool lettuce with pickled sides. We were in a food coma for the rest of the night. Everything tasted marvelous. It was one of those rare meals with great food, great tea, a hot burner, and without pretense. It was the kind of experience I want to share. Hungry yet?
By the way, the leftovers made for wicked good stew the next day, along with my garden pickles.