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Joung Kak, Charles North

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If anyone is in search of authentic Korean bbq in Baltimore, head to Joung Kak (Jong Kak in some listings), 18 W. 20th St., a few blocks north of Penn Station, close to Maryland Ave. Although there is a severe language barrier (i.e. don’t bother calling for information unless you speak Korean), you will be rewarded with real charcoal wood braziers, brought to you red hot in a cauldron for tabletop grilling of your kalbi, bolgoki and other meats (pork, chicken, tripe, tongue, liver) and seafood. Charcoal wood grilling is a rarity these days, even in Little Korea in NYC. (Caution: you must order at least two bbq entrées in order to get the tabletop braziers, otherwise they will insist on preparing the bbq in the kitchen and sit you at the non-brazier tables. No fun.)

With the entrées comes hot tea in plastic water glasses, an assortment of at least ten panchan - small side dishes - as well as rice, and two large cast iron pots of soups – one with omelete and one with mixed vegetables, tofu and diced pork. There is also a small selection of domestic and Korean beers. In addition to the bbq, we tried the scallion pancake with pork which was tasty but couldn’t compete with the fun of the tabletop grilling and Korean “burrito” making (tucking the grilled meats, bean paste, rice, roasted garlic, and other panchan tidbits into large lettuce leaves and folding them up and tucking away.) Both the kalbi – short ribs – and bulgoki were nicely flavored and very tender, and after the meat was finished grilling, the waitress tossed on the short rib bones, from which the kalbi had been carved, to crisp them up for nibbling on afterwards.

The menu is long – covers hot pots (ox tripe soup anyone?), rice and noodle dishes, etc., as well as Japanese and Chinese menu items. Everything I saw being served was from the Korean menu and looked very good, so I will be back to try other things. Prices for the bbq entrées were in the $15-18 range, with the tea, panchan, salad, rice and soup included.

Edited by crackers
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Went to Joung Kak last weekend- Coal grilled BBQ smells great. My jacket smelled like meat the next day.

We had a combo plate which included Bulgolgi, Kalbi, pork, and, my fav, tripe.

We also ordered a hot pot with kimchi, sausage, sticky rice dumplings, noodles, and SPAM!


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