Why: KingKong Korean BBQ opened a few weeks ago. The restaurant offers a traditional in-table grill experience seven days a week with a menu of authentic Korean options.
What I tried: I sampled ddukbokki, a spicy rice-cake appetizer. I also tried the dinner standard, which includes a choice of four items from 40 options, served buffet style. I chose thinly sliced beef brisket, spicy pork belly, teriyaki chicken and corn cheese.
The tube-style rice cakes had a smooth, spongy texture all the way through; I didn’t find the red sauce covering them to be very spicy at all.
The meat arrives raw and ready to put on the grill using tongs. Diners also receive a pair of kitchen scissors for cutting larger pieces of meat into bite-sized pieces once cooked.
The nearly paper-thin brisket cooked quickly. The chicken and spicy pork belly were pre-seasoned and marinated. Like the rice cakes, the pork belly was not spicy.
Dining out guide: KingKong Korean BBQ
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Where: 316 S.E. 123rd Ave., Suite C3, Vancouver.
Health score: KingKong Korean BBQ has received a pre-opening inspection and is scheduled for a routine inspection in the near future. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.
I have no complaints about the quality of meat, but I would have liked more utensils to help avoid cross-contamination with raw meat, because the different thicknesses finish cooking at different times.
A tray of six side dishes, including kimchi, accompanied the meal. I prefer oven-baked corn cheese, which is more akin to a casserole, but it was worth trying it on the grill.
Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Appetizers include gyoza, egg rolls, and kimchi jeon. Some of the other options on the standard dinner menu include pork jowl, pork neck meat, beef entrails, spicy chicken, coconut curry chicken, assorted vegetables, soybean paste soup, steamed egg, chicken gizzard, ham and sausage, beef honeycomb tripe, beef bulgogi and beef omasum. The dinner premium selection mirrors the standard options with a few additional items, such as spicy squid, squid bulgogi, butter garlic scallops and baby octopus. Among the entree choices are stir-fried squid in spicy sauce, cold noodles with hot sauce, marinated beef, beef short-rib soup with cabbage, soybean paste soup with brisket, and soft tofu stew.
Atmosphere: The restaurant, which has a simple color palette of black and wood tones, is located where Yummy Mongolian Grill used to be. Seating at tables and booths all provide in-table grills and above-table venting with stainless-steel hood vents. Wall-mounted TVs stream Korean music videos for entertainment.
Other observations: The waitstaff is friendly and knowledgeable about menu items. On the evening of my visit, food littered the floor in spots. The table where I sat had some dried food stuck to the edge, as did the grill. For all the venting overhead, the air was thick with the smell of hot oil. If you are dining with small children, know that the hot grill is in reach.
Cost: Appetizers cost $5.95 to $12.95. Entrees are $10.95 to $17.95. Lunch specials are $19.95 per person; the Dinner Standard option is $24.95 per person; Dinner Premium costs $31.95 per person. Draft beer is available in a pint, a pitcher and a tower from $4.95 to $28.95. Bottled beer is $4.95. Soju, a clear liquor, is $13.95. Wine is $5.95 for a glass and $29.95 for a bottle. Sake costs $5.95 to $22.95. Pepsi products cost $2.95.