Normally, I wouldn't have taken two unadventurous eaters - granddaughters ages eight and nine to a Korean BBQ. But life is for trying out new things.
Our oldest son and his wife were pressure washing our deck and were running out of steam in the late afternoon on a beautiful spring day. The Honey Pig had a great review in the News Tribune a few weeks earlier and this seemed like a good match. Peg and I offered to take the two youngest granddaughters with us for a late lunch and then bring back food for two other granddaughters, our son and daughter-in-law. It was worth the journey from Tacoma's northend to South Tacoma Way (just physically into Lakewood).
We were seated quickly. On the fantastically beautiful day most people were sunning themselves or admiring other people who were sunning themselves, so we pretty much had the restaurant to our selves. Since we had the girls and were going to take home a number of selections, we chose not to cook our own meat with the built-in table top barbecue grills. Watching an eight year-old interact with a hot grill was not something I wanted to experiment with, nor see.
By not making use of the grill, we reduced our choices and increased the final bill. We looked over the menu and decided to order a variety of selections and then from those choosen we decided what to order for take-away. We ordered and half a dozen or more little bowls appeared on our table with condiments to sample and add to our entrées. My favorite was the tofu, which looked like it had hot pepper flakes all over it, but was not hot at all. The potato in ginger and sweet sauce was a favorite at our table for the girls and again back on our deck.
The Seafood Dumpling Soup was good. I don't know why I was expecting fat fluffy dumplings like Peg makes, but the good-sized dumplings turned out to be like large won-tons filled with minced seafood. There was enough for a one person meal with the soup. I think only Peg and I had small bowls. The broth was very good. We took the majority of it home.
I ordered the grilled Pike Mackerel. Three were severed. They looked like large sardines. I see mackerel cooked all the time on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Mackerel is a heart-healthy choice rich in omega 3 oils. I enjoyed the flesh and the crispy skin. I think I would try the larger version of mackerel instead of the "pike" mackerel which are thin. I think it would be easier to de-bone and have larger chunks of flesh.
The Seafood Pancake seemed like a good idea, but was rather bland. Of course, this is why they serve all the little condiments so you can spice up your selections. Although the menu said "seafood" I found it more to be an octopus pancake. The tentacles were a little bit chewy. The suckers weren't on the arms, but still fewer of them would have been better. Something crispy would have been a nice addition.
If we had been cooking at our table, I think I would have grilled some sowbelly (uncured bacon) and then have added that to the pancake. I think that little addition would have sparked up the taste quite a bit . . . but then what isn't improved by adding bacon? Without the kids there I would have experimented more with the condiments and sauces. I think the pancake is something that I would really like, now that I have been introduced to it.
It was the pork ribs that proved to be the big break through for our granddaughters. They loved the rice and were happy with it, but the ribs were the definite hit of the day. They were flavorful and not sauced. The lack of BBQ sauce caused my son to complain later at the deck picnic, but I think he would have really liked them at the restaurant. Peg really liked the ribs. She and the girls finished off one order of ribs between them. I had two little bites. The girls ate most of them.
We asked for two more orders "to go." We had enough left-overs, so with those two orders we had enough for a complete dinner. I only had a spoonful of rice, which I used to soak up the sauce in my tofu bowl, but I think next time I would use the ribs and onions that came with them to cover my rice for a great meal. The staff at The Honey Pig were so kind. They carefully put our food into containers and then brought in a large cardboard box to hold our bags and little boxes.
All in all, the granddaughters enjoyed the Korean meal. The service was outstanding. Three different people waited on us. I would go back and try out their all-you-can-eat deal at less than $20. I think that's a great way to sample and try things out. There were quite a few items listed that I had never heard of or tried before. From the other reviews I've seen, most people seem to really like The Honey Pig and now I know why. We'll return.
When we returned home, our deck had been restored to its former glory and looked like a spread out of Sunset Magazine. When we gathered around the table it was time to relax and enjoy great food on a great afternoon in the Pacific Northwest.
I knew that not all our Korean food would go over with everyone, so we stopped at KFC for a bucket of chicken. I think that was a wise choice. I'm still a fan of original recipe. It's a little salty, but I love it. The twenty piece bucket had quite a dent put into it. Almost everything Korean disappeared. The rice went home with the little girls. They don't eat a lot at the follow up picnic, but they know what they like. I think they had enough for several days of rice and something for dinner.
The Honey Pig is located at 9104 South Tacoma Way, Suite H, Lakewood, WA 98499. Give them a call at (253) 581-1200. Enjoy.