My parents watch a lot of food shows, so I’m used to getting e-mails telling me about some place they saw that I absolutely have to try because it looked so good “on tv”. The last one they told me about was 8 Korean BBQ, but when I looked it up I only saw the location in the heart of Los Angeles. There’s not much in LA that we visit, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to brave LA traffic just for some pork belly that my parents saw on some show. But when I was mapping out places to try within reasonable driving distance (LA/OC driving, that is), I came across another 8 Korean BBQ location in Buena Park, and when I called to verify that they were the same spot with the same pork belly offerings, I made reservations for us to try it out during my Santa Ana trip.
All the tables are made for 4 people, with little stools that have storage inside (just don’t forget your purse or jacket before you leave!) with a few tables that are clustered for larger parties. Each table also have a drawer, where the utensils, napkins, and bottle opener are stored. I thought that was pretty cute.
The combo most people talk about is the eight flavors of pork belly, which I think is about $50. It sounds like a lot, but you get a seafood soup, rice, eight thick slices of marinated pork belly, kimchi, and then kimchi fried rice. It easily fed the 3 of us, so it’s really not a bad deal.
Once you’ve ordered, they bring out this long tray with your eight pieces of pork belly: plain, wine, ginseng, garlic, curry, herb, miso, and red pepper. They put the first four pieces on the grill, which is angled and has a little cutout on the bottom to let all the schmutzy stuff drain into the trash hole in the table.
Usually, when we go out for korean bbq one of us works the grill, turning and cutting meat and distributing the cooked pieces. Here, one of the servers constantly comes by to check on the pork belly and to cut it into bite-sized pieces. Once you’ve eaten the first four flavors, the last four go on the grill and you just keep eating until you’re stuffed full. You start thinking you’ve found a favorite, until you move onto the next flavor and then that one is your favorite. It was all really good. I think the miso marinated piece was the favorite favorite, though.
Once you’ve eaten the seafood soup, someone comes by to make kimchi fried rice in the skillet/pot. I think we were halfway through the pork belly at this point, so then we ate pork belly along with the fried rice.
I was initially a little concerned about going to the Buena Park location because the Yelp reviews were not encouraging with regards to service. But everyone was so nice and friendly to us while we were there, we didn’t feel rushed at all, and we certainly didn’t feel neglected. I don’t know how it compares to the LA location, but I’d happily return to Buena Park for more pork belly.