It’s beginning. The nights are getting warmer, and the BBQ joints in Korea are opening their windows to let the savory smells of melting pork fill the night air. BBQ season outside in Korea has officially begun. Let my heart be ready for the next six months of arduous labor. It was a nice night, so XML and I decided to hit up 하남 돼지집 (Hanam Pig House) in Nowon to ring in the outdoor BBQ new year!
How to get there: There are several locations throughout the city, but we went to the one in Nowon. It was very easy to find. The best way to get there is to take the subway to Nowon Station (Line 4) and depart from Exit 1. It is literally 20 – 30 steps from the bottom of the stairs and is on your right. Look for the pig waving a sign.
Service and Atmosphere: The atmosphere at the 하남 돼지집 was very lively. If you are looking for nice quiet conversation with a friend, this might not be the spot to check out at 11pm at night. With the soju flowing, mixed with the fatty juices of the 삼겹살 brings out the inner adjoshi in all of us. That said, the actual interior of the restaurant was nice and clean. There are no traditional chairs, just stools in which you can stow your jacket and belongings in.
Service was top notched. We were pretty hungry, and the servers brought out the side dishes quickly. Then they brought out the 삼겹살 only a few minutes after ordered. Any time we needed drinks, they were very attentive. Our server even cut and helped us BBQ the 삼겹살 (which is a tricky cut to cook properly without burning). To top it off, they thanked us at the end of our meal. Great service and absolutely no complaints.
Food and Drink: Tonight XML and I ordered two servings of samgyeopsal (삼겹살), two orders of kimchi rice in a lunch box (도시락 김치볶음밥) and a couple of Cokes.
Spread and Side Dishes (Free)
Pork Belly of the Sow aka Samgyeopsal (암돼지 생 삼겹살) 12,000KRW: We ordered two orders of samgyeopsal (삼겹살) which came to 24,000KRW. Unlike other Korean BBQ places, which normally tend to serve you the 삼겹살 raw, 하남 돼지집 precooks the meat for you, and you finish the job. The 삼겹살 comes to your table already sliced with a little pink showing on the inside. We cooked ours, with the help of our server for only a few minutes until the inside was white and the outside a little burnt. After we put the cooked meat into a stainless steel tray and keeps it warm until you are ready to consume it. Trust me, it won’t stay there long. Now if you really want to get fancy, a little culinary trick my boss taught me was to grill some of the kimchi (김치) in the pork fat. Sweet Jesus… what a great idea. The fat mixes with the kimchi’s heat and it creates a nice flavor of pork, cabbage and a little spice.
Kimchi Rice in a Lunch Box (도시락 김치볶음밥) 3,000KRW: XML and I ordered two of these. This is a blue-collar type of side dish that they used to eat back in the day. It is a simple mix of kimchi, rice, seaweed and an egg. It is quick and easy to eat, and gives the meal a little more flavor, as opposed to ordering just regular white rice. The egg and seaweed balances some of the heat from the kimchi, so if you are not a fan of raw kimchi, this dish might satisfy your tastebuds better.
Value: The whole bill came to 36,000KRW. Now, there are cheaper options out there, but I found that this had great value because the 삼겹살 was not as fatty as your normal BBQ restaurant. Also, the meat is precooked and the server will help you if you are having any trouble. For the extra couple of WON, you should just go there.
Who should try 하남 돼지집: People looking have some great pork in a lively environment. This is a fun and friendly environment. If I were new to Korea BBQ, this might be the place to start because the servers are very helpful and will help you cook your meat. Trust me, when your deal with 삼겹살, you might need the tutoring.
Who should avoid 하남 돼지집: I wouldn’t recommend this place for families or a quiet date night. It was pretty boisterous in there, and as the nights get warmer, and the cool beers start going down smoother, it’s just going to get rowdier.
Website (Korean Only): http://www.hanampig.co.kr