Koreans love to grill pork belly. One report shows that a Korean eats 9 kg of pork belly a year on average. That's at least once a week, people. Their love for pork even made it possible to open a pork butcher shop in Jordan, a Muslim country.
Since I'm away from that pork belly loving culture, it's about once or twice a YEAR that I'm grilling pork belly. What a shame..
So recently, when the pork belly craving God descent, I didn't resist. I decided to check out one of the most recent Korean restaurants in New York, Miss Korea. It turned out they have a nice lunch pork grill menu with a decent price tag.
A better exterior design of Miss Korea looked promising. I like the big opening window, too.
It's quite a big space inside. Do you see overhead grilling fume ventilation systems? For lunch, it didn't work at all. When we asked why, one of the waiters said, it was working "FAINTLY". But, honestly, it didn't work. When we pressed harder, she chose to keep her silence.
One of the joy of Korean eating is endless side dishes (banchan). When you order BBQ stuff, they will give you a full version. So to experience side dish frenzy fully, consider ordering BBQ, not a bowl of cold noodle. Miss Korea spread out about 10 items before the meal. Nothing exceptional, but they hit the average taste bar.
Grilled pork belly always tastes better when wrapped into a lettuce leaf on the bed of spicy scallion salads. The white old kimchi was accompanied to be grilled together with pork. Delish, delish. Try this trick at home, too. Slices of kimchi grilled with pork belly oil will open your eyes, I promise.
The main cast of the day; Pork belly. It's unfrozen which makes a big difference. The belly was thick and healthy looking. Three strips were a lunch portion for two people ($12.95 per person). Four strips for a dinner menu. The lunch menu reads "cook your own BBQ with today's chef special soup" but they didn't serve the special soup for us saying they "don't serve the soup", so I don't know if the menu tells you the truth.
Grilling time! Waiter does the job, so don't worry if you're new to this stuff. But, again, without ventilation system working, be prepared to be soaked with porky smoke.
I like it as crispy as possible. Look at that brownish grilled kimchi. Sooo good.
A perfectly grilled pork belly slice on a bed of scallions; it was full of tastes in my mouth. Pork belly means "three layers flesh" in Korean. What you see is three layers of white fat, though. When the fat loses some of weight making itself tight and chewy, you know it's grilled to perfection.
It's hard to go wrong with this kind of dish unless the meat is really bad. Miss Korea's version wasn't exceptional to me. Like I said before about side dishes, the pork belly just hit the average. If you give me a blind test, I wouldn't distinguish it's from Miss Korea. There's no special about their pork belly.
However, if you do the test about this Kimchi cold noodle ($4.95), I will definitely know it's theirs. It was unexpectedly yummy. Slightly sour with a sweet touch from soda (possibly Sprite) was refreshing. Floating kimchi slices and cucumbers were crunchy and noodle was cooked well. This was a half portion, a usual way to finish a Korean BBQ meal. So, next time, show off your sophisticated knowledge of Korean eating ordering one of those cold noodles after BBQ. :)
Spicy Cold Buckwheat Noodle (Bibim Naengmyun, $4.95) was good, too. But I kept tasting MSG-like buzz in the sauce. I would go for Kimchi noodle instead of this one. But it's just my taste.
Service was spotty. Our waiter didn't look like she knew what she was doing; that kind of confusing manner makes me nervous, especially when it comes to a BBQ . And this is one of the reasons that I absolutely favor old-mom-like waiters at older Korean restaurants. I mean, they can be mean, but they know what they're doing.
The whole meal experience wasn't memorable, but the Kimchi noodle stood up for me. I guess if you're a pork belly connoisseur, you wouldn't be satisfied at Miss Korea. But go there for their Kimchi noodle!