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In the suburbs of Annandale, in a dull, nondescript brick building, is a bustling attraction. Until recently, it was only identified by giant posters of grilled meats, vegetables, and Korean writing. So if you couldn’t read it, then you could only hope that the saliva-inducing images led you to Honey Pig. Literally translated, it means Oink Pig. That’s cute, unless you’re a pig.

As you walk through the entrance, be prepared to be greeted by loud Korean pop music and the smell of grilling meat. It’s a flurry of activity–crowded, noisy, bustling with servers wielding tongs and scissors. Don’t bring your baby here. Sit down as plates of banchan fly before your eyes. You can snack on these complimentary “appetizers” as they fire up the grill. They’re a little different each time; wilted spinach, potato salad, spicy kimchi, dried cuttlefish, seaweed salad, spicy tofu.

I recommend the steamed eggs, seafood or kimchi pancakes, and the spicy pork belly–enormous slices of pork goodness that look like what Jack’s giant had for breakfast. Fee-fi-fo-fum! I smell the blood of sam gyup sal! Ask for extra gochujang, a spicy, flavorful red chili paste. After your server deftly cooks the meat, she’ll cut it into bite-size pieces to accompany your rice–get the steamed eggs–a light, airy soufflé garnished with scallions and paprika. Take a crisp leaf of lettuce, fill it with meat, rice, spicy red chili sauce, and now you’re eating like the natives do.

Ever try soju? It’s a distilled alcohol made from rice. It tastes and looks like vodka, more similar to sake, light and sweet. You can either sip it from a shot glass, or add a shot to your beer. I like Cass or Hite beer. Before their write-up in the Washingtonian Cheap Eats edition, very few non-Koreans knew about Honey Pig. Now they’ve got an influx of new customers, and a new sign in English to show the way.

My own experience has been that the servers are hopeful and polite when taking my order. When they realize I don’t understand them, they look annoyed. That’s where my boyfriend who taught in South Korea, comes in. He speaks Korean, but he’s Italian-AMerican. Boy, do they get confused.

The best thing about Honey Pig is that it’s open twenty-four hours. Now I’m “gool-gool-ing” with delight.

Honey Pig Korean BBQ
7220-C Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
(703) 256-5229
Open 24 hours a day

Photo: Honey Pig

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