Korean


Jang Su Jang is not a place to try during peak hours, because you’ll wait. Koreans know the place cold, are the bulk of the customers here, and keep coming back. I don’t blame them. The building is well and strongly built, with thick wooden frames that evoke an almost medieval sense of solidity. The tools used here, the stone bowls, plates for stone bowls, are again, solidly constructed, and show signs of heavy heavy use. People eat here, and they eat here a lot.

In the  beginning, water and  barley  tea.

In the beginning, water and barley tea.

Banchan? As fresh as their reputation.

Banchan? As fresh as their reputation.

Soon dubu, a rich and thick version of this dish. Bowls used lack the shine of new ones being sold at Super H, and  show signs of heavy use.

Soon dubu, a rich and thick version of this dish. Bowls used lack the shine of new ones being sold at Super H, and show signs of heavy use.

Bibimbap construction kit. Toss this over the rice (in a stone bowl, not shown).

Bibimbap construction kit. Toss this over the rice (in a stone bowl, not shown).

Other reviewers (e.g. Sean, of Take Thou Food and Chloe, of Chow Down Atlanta) have remarked that the mandoo is exceptional here, the soon dubu (silky tofu soup) is quite good, and the other dishes are okay. Sean noted the freshness of the banchan, a real sticking point for him. Bella Viviere, by contrast, felt Jang Su Jang was generally good, but pricey. I had soon dubu this day, as did my wife, and my daughter had the bibimbap. We enjoyed what we had, but we didn’t eat enough to really challenge any critical notions of this place. I will say that if you eat sanely, this place is not expensive. It when you try to delve into various specials for 2 or more that it can become more expensive.

When you arrive you will be served barley tea. It’s an acquired taste, served other places as well. More Americanized spots won’t bother. There is a button on the table, as in many Korean eateries, but this one is a little hard to see and not as obvious as in many places. You can ring the button to tell waitstaff to come to your table. Banchan should come out just before your meal arrives. At lunch, service was actually pretty fast, even though there were enough folks the day we showed that we had a couple minute wait before being seated.

Everything we had was good. I liked the food, but the atmosphere, even more. If you want to feel immersed in the character of a culture, this place can put you into that frame of mind. It doesn’t act like an American eatery, and isn’t trying to be. But it’s accommodating enough to those who grew up around pine trees, cotton, peaches, and red clay, playing backyard football till you have to swim to cut through the sweat, that you’ll enjoy the meal. And for those looking for the “authentic experience”, this certainly can provide.

Jang Su Jang
3645 Satellite Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 475-9170

Jang Su Jang on Urbanspoon

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If laid back and casual are what you want in a restaurant, you’ll love Oh! My Samgyupsal. If you like waitstaff that for the most part have flawless English, you’ll like Oh! My Samgyupsal. If you want good bbq in an atmosphere that doesn’t feel like an “after the karaoke” event, then this eatery may be good for you. All that said, if you’re a newbie to Korean BBQ, this also is a great place to start.

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If you’re wanting a fancy place to impress the relatives, this isn’t it. The tables and chairs are pretty ordinary and there is graffiti everywhere. I happen to like places with graffiti, it’s a very college thing to do, but it’s not for everyone. The drawings, however, show some artistic touches and it can be fun trying to recognize the folks they often parody.

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sprouts, kimchi, and some brisket getting "the treatment".

sprouts, kimchi, and some brisket getting “the treatment”.

I’d rate the food as good. The brisket isn’t as fine as the marinated brisket at Honey Pig but it is very thinly sliced and tastes very good if it’s well crisped. There are multiple kinds of pork belly, including the garlic pork belly that Bella Viviere likes. My family are hardly pork belly fans so we tend to eat brisket, wraps, “salad”, and cooked sprouts and kimchi.

If I haven’t suggested this so far, staff may be the best thing this restaurant has going for it. The English the staff use is mostly flawless. And therefore, if you’re one of the folks who has never had “all you can eat” BBQ in the city, this is one of the most English friendly spots you could start with.

In short, Oh! My Damgyupsal is a perfect spot for a beginner, a great spot for a casual crowd, a useful respite from the late night oriented eateries.

Oh! My Samgyupsal
3585 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096

Oh! My Samgyupsal on Urbanspoon

We had never had it before, even though Iron Age, the Korean BBQ with a sense of humor, has slowly become one of the options in Duluth for us. They take your left over meats and fold it into their rice mixture, and cook it right on the pan, on your own table. Once it starts, you can even see the rice steam.

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Hints of steam coming off the rice can be seen in this photo.

Iron Age is truly a unique experience, and if you have daughters, they’ll appreciate the character of staff here. The non stop KPOP on the big screens doesn’t hurt either.

There is food, and there is food as show. Some people want a quiet plate of tonkatsu. Others want the flash of teppanyaki style cooking. Honey Pig is really in the latter camp in terms of Korean BBQ, very much making the food a show. The inside is attractive, stuffed with pigs of various kinds, a pig with wings suspended from the roof, lots of wood and wait staff all dressed in black.

There is a large grill that centers every table. It has an rounded shape, and a nice handle, to make it easier to pick up after the metal cools down. A hole on one side lets out the grease as the meat grills. There is a temperature control on one side, and by the control, a hemispherical button, which you press to alert staff if you’re not getting enough attention (we didn’t need the button).

The surface on which the meats are cooked. In the upper right is a complimentary carafe of water.

The roof is industrial and there was as much overhead ducting as I’ve seen since my days at Mirak Korean.

We chose three meats, their brisket, their honey pig, and their marinated bulgogi. We didn’t want the fried rice they normally finish with. Our staff started by adding useful collections of sauces and sides, then dropped plenty bean sprouts and kimchi onto the grill.

Dipping sauces. Note the button. In a Korean restaurant, you use that button to call over waiters.

On the left are rice cake sheets (to put veggies and meats in), the middle a very salty dipping sauce, on the right cold kimchi soup, which we sipped to cleanse our palate of stronger meat flavors.

Scallion salad, they call this.

We had a waiter, who cooked the kinchi and the meats, and made sure everyone had what they wanted. Of the meats, we liked the beef the best.

Excellent beef.

Metal chopsticks and a spoon (for rice).

The honey pig wasn’t bad either, a bit less fatty than common pork belly.

Honey pig.

The bulgogi was a little disappointing. We’d probably go with two servings of the beef next time.

The impression I got was a restaurant exceptionally friendly to Korean beginners. There is a lot of show on the table. The well dressed staff were personable and spoke excellent English. It doesn’t have the camp appeal of Iron Age, but neither does it feel like you need to come straight from a karaoke bar with a crowd of same sex friends to get the best out of it either. It’s a better family spot, despite the thump, disco-like, of the Kpop background music. It’s not the meat and seafood bargain that Cho Wan is, but it has a menu with fewer fails, and is easier to navigate.

So go there. If you’ve never done Korean and it scares you a little, especially go there.

Honey Pig
(770) 476-9292
3473 Old Norcross Rd NW
Duluth, GA 30096

Honey Pig on Urbanspoon

Moon’s Family is a Chloe “find“, full of rich soups, ladies that speak only Korean, and crisp green banchan that would please anyone who hates the recycled stuff. I went recently, because I wanted to try something different. The soon dubu, IMO, is as good as Chloe Morris said it would be; to be considered among the best in town.

Almost no English in their signage.

Crisp, fresh banchan.

Babimbap. At Moon’s, you toss your bowl of steamed rice over the top and mix.

Seafood soon dubu. Thicker than most, more seafood variety than most, and IMO, a richer flavor than many silky tofu soups in town.

I’m not the Korean hound that Chloe is, but I’ve eaten in a few of these places. For those eaters who need people to speak English clearly, you would be better served by Honey Pig, which is in the same mall. I was served off and on by three women, each with different levels of English skills, and one who asked if I wanted a check by making the shape of a check with her hands (my Japanese mother-in-law will trace the outline of a check in the air to indicate that she needs one. Ironically, some rather authentic Japanese restaurants in town don’t get it). Yes, very much a point and choose place.

If you’re a foodie and don’t have good coping skills, go with a friend that does. Soon dubu joints are not hard to navigate and this one has a larger menu than many. You might want to try their grilled mackerel, or their jigaes as well.

Moon’s Family Restaurant
3473 Old Norcross Rd
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 622-7780

Moon Family  on Urbanspoon

Two words: Go now. Not because the tofu soup is fantastic. It’s really good, mind you, but they’re giving  the kind of service that will leave you smiling about the whole experience of eating here. Six months from now, it might be more pedestrian, so I’m tapping rapidly on  the ‘go now’ button, for those I can offer a suggestion to.

Tohdam is behind the stairs.

Terrific banchan.

They offer interesting extras, such as this mung bean pancake. It was crunchy, with plenty of green vegetable bits.

They serve a good tofu soup.

On a scale from one to 5, I’d rate the silky  tofu soup, banchan, purple (brown) rice, extras, about a 4 out of 5. Service is a 5+ and that’s what I find exciting about this eatery. It’s in a small ‘C’ shaped mall anchored by an Assi market, and is a little out of the way. I had dropped my daughter off at Japanfest and was looking for a place to eat. I ended up catching the Tohdam sign  out  of the corner of my eye.

To note, this  is the third version of this eatery. There have been 3 chef and owner changes. Staff told me they had been open 8 days when we ate. As Chloe noted on Twitter:

@FoodNSnellville It’s the 3rd incarnation. Chef+owners change each time. Gets better every time.

I never did get to the other versions, but this one should be on the tofu soup short list of everyone from Duluth to Buford.

Tohdam Tofu House
1291 Old Peachtree Road
Suwanee, GA 30024
(770) 622-5668

Toh Dam Tofu House on Urbanspoon

Inside Hae Woon Dae, there are perhaps 20 years of Atlanta “best of” awards all set out on rich wooden walls, thickly paneled. It doesn’t take long to gain the impression that they’re all earned. Just watch the staff. Watch how they talk to tables. Look at the size and thickness of the meat servings. Look at the “charcoal guy”, coming out to top off those folks cooking food at their tables. Yes, they charcoal broil meats here. There isn’t any of that portable butane torch gear being used here.

Hae Woon Dae’s banchan

LA galbi, thicker than most and richly flavored.

I’ve been in the past, long before I was a food blogger and recalled I liked it. I went back on a day I couldn’t think of a better Korean place close to work. The corner of Buford that Hae Woon Dae is on is not my favorite, especially at night, so I went at lunchtime. It was a pretty late lunch and still there were people peppering the eatery.

The LA galbi I had was as thick as my thumb, unusual in this city where 5 millimeter thick meat is more the norm. Thinner meat cooks faster, you see. But sometimes, to develop flavor can take longer. What I had at my table was worth the wait and the couple extra bucks. There was some chew in the meat, but I’ve not ever found galbi with the consistency of pot roast.

Whatever I might say further about this restaurant would hardly change its decades old reputation. Just count me among the many food fans who raise two thumbs up to this venerable Atlanta institution.

Hae Woon Dae
5805 Buford Highway
Doraville, GA 30340
(770) 451-7957

Hae Woon Dae on Urbanspoon

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