Lakeland Barbecue Co.

I don’t remember exact flavors at Good Buddies, exempt them dirty fries. Why my phantom taste buds can recite this one menu item among all the others is beyond human comprehension. Yet, as an ode to the restaurant that once bustled then succumbed to a tragic fire a half dozen years or more in downtown Lakeland, my French fry cart The Root concocted our own version of dirty fries. Unfortunate or indifferent as it is, Good buddies isn’t back although the team that once brought some of the best BBQ around is. And what’s in a name really? For me, it happens to be nostalgia for  something I honestly can’t really remember too much of other than my brain verifies they was awesome. Lakeland BBQ Co. has risen out of the ashes of a burned down building and years worth of domination in local BBQ competitions. That is what their reputation of this new to you named BBQ Co is built upon.

LkldBBQ
This isn’t really a review, think of it more of an introduction to how I gauge my barbeque.
When you walk in, head toward the bar in the far reaches of the building where you might see someone waving a wooden stock pot spoon at you to control foot traffic in the right direction. If you don’t already know how to order BBQ from a new place here’s how you do it. Everyone’s got one or two favorite cuts of meat or preparations. From birth I’ve been a rib guy, mainly spare with the tips attached. If that’s not available, I wont always go for the back ribs as the next option. If not pork ribs, ill usually gravitate (if available) toward more rare white rabbit type forms such as Burnt Ends, In House Smoked sausage, Pig Belly and Mutton. If you don’t have a preference with BBQ I think you’re on the verge of being lost. I’m saying this because we have rules. Without rules, chaos reigns. When chaos reigns, you get your queues from a talking fox. On the first trip to a new BBQ restaurant or frankly one you’ve never been before, always order what you already love. This is your gauge. If you don’t think they do what you like very well, you probably aren’t going to like the rest. I would never order pulled or chopped pork over ribs, brisket, sausage, lamb, duck or even chicken, so why would I judge based on that? Chopped pork is way down my list, but this is  not at the behest of anyone that likes it. We all have our security blankets.

The ordering structure at Lakeland BBQ co. makes it easy to perform a second test because the subject is already at the table. Saucing. Take your less predominant index finger  out. Place a few dabs of whichever sauce you think you’ll enjoy. You want control, which is why I squeeze with my right and test with the left. Their spicy sauce is not overbearing on the heat index, but it’s cold inside to be honest. Usually shivering will cause you to feel the heat more than it’s meant to be felt, so sit near the window for maximum effort. It was very tolerable nonetheless. I detected a flavor combination with a subtle complexity right off the bat. I think I got some coffee and smoked chile, caramelized brown sugar in there somewhere.

As for the ribs:

The smoke ring was there as you see, but the smoky flavor wasn’t as bring you to your knees powerful as you’ll find at other joints.  Because of these factors, the texture made me think more of deeply roasted shoulder. I respect the restraint they exhibited as it caused me to actually taste pork. Kind of the reason we like the stuff in the first place.

lkldribs

The menu is brief with the main and sides at a minimum, so you don’t have a myriad of options. I’m fine with that. I’d rather have fresh tasty sides done very well, over a pliable sheet panned week old macaroni and cheese. Opting for what I perceive everyone will gravitate toward, Cheesy Hash brown casserole was my side of choice, although the following visit allowed me to put their Collards under the microscope. You see, in actuality making good Collard Greens isn’t tough. Just don’t serve them raw in a salad or turn ’em to mush. everything else within the spectrum is allowable. The problem is people who make really good Collard Greens don’t want to admit anyone else does them good.  I have to admit, they done did the Collards right. Tender, ham hocky, salty and tangy with some great pot likker broth to sip as an after meal digestif.

A fitting suprise was the wedge of cake like cornbread on my lunch tray. I wasn’t expecting it, probably didn’t need it from the generous amount of ribs they provided, however I was very happy to eat the entire brick. Restaurant cornbread can be as fickle as a newspaper editor, twice as crummy and three times, no four times as dry. Not here.

Since they’re only open for Lunch, this new place might not end up on everyone’s to do list. If you’re a fan of Good buddies, maybe you’ll try this and think it’s just like they used to do it. Maybe you’ll think they have grown from the years being on the circuit. Maybe you’ll be elbow deep in pork fat  and far too busy to pontificate over these trivialized matters.

B&B Junction – Winter Park, FL

Hamburgers… or “burgers” as many vulgarians call it, are by all accounts, this countries most famous, and easily our finest, export. The begetting is a little hazy with stories circulating throughout many of the major cities of the northeast, about the literal birthplace of worlds most bodacious sandwich. Many will attempt to fight you, much like Guile vs M. Bison when you bring up what characteristics make a burger “perfect”, only to come to an impasse.

Sonic Shroom!

The truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as the perfect anything, there are so many stellar qualities of a great hamburger, that preferences have to be culled at some point. Otherwise we would live in a dystopian society in outer space in which humans are obese to the point of losing the ability to walk. Meanwhile back on earth the survival of our planet is reliant on a cute garbage collecting robot. But I digress…

So we all know the characteristics of a great burger. But do you know the single item that will ruin even the most pristine hamburger specimen? American cheese. The contagion of all things pure and true. There are too many burger flipperias that insist on blanketing their wonderful creations with this plastic wrap painted marigold. It’s like if the de-lovely madame Marianne Cottilard had a football shaped goiter jutting out from her neck. Oh, its distinctive, but you never wish you had one yourself. I’ve heard the perfect description of what American cheese does to a burger and its counterparts. I won’t quote this but one expert said it was the glue that held everything together.

“Glue”

Couldn’t have found a better description if I had a book of synonyms before me. Except maybe “High gloss polyurethane deck coating.”

B&B Junction Logo

B&B Junction has taken over the space that once housed the great 4 rivers smokehouse. A Titan of Florida BBQ has since grazed down the road to a bigger pasture.

Their menu is designed to showcase local food purveyors and their wares, “using only the highest quality ingredients and sustainable, hormone free meats.” A quote that is religiously displayed throughout the spot.

I love that approach, as does my wife. It even persuaded her to take a blind shot at this new joint. The idea that a restaurant has the same mindset as her vaulting standards, the food doesn’t even have to taste great. But let me tell you, B&B is by far the best in Orlando bar none. Probably the most wholesome as well. Guess what? You won’t find any Kraft singles on these bodacious Brahman beef cakes.

Unfortunately, I hate being pressured to order before the time is right. Fortunately, when every single menu item would make a competent selection, you really can’t go wrong. Unfortunately, I don’t share any DNA with our bovine buddies, as I lack the three extra stomachs that might allow me to eat all eight of their signature burgers. Fortunately, they are reasonably priced, so making multiple visits isn’t out of the question.

No. 1 Burger

My wife had a traditionalist hamburger with the basic lineup of condiments. Mustard, lettuce, tomato, house made pickles. (a union of dill and bread & butter flavor) If you call yourself a hamburger aficionado you have to respect my wife for her purity. For me, this is the best way to get the most complete understanding of how good beef makes the burger. You can almost taste the grassy iron enriched earth where the cows roamed with a sense of purpose. Speaking of my wife, she made the wisest of decisions by marrying me. She made an equally smart choice by selecting beer battered onion rings. Onion rings which had not been made better in an establishment. The only time I can say the onions had some semblance of a toothsome bite. Almost exclusively, onion rings are just hollowed smush filled circles of disappointment. They also came with an elevated blooming onion dipping sauce with a super macho man uppercut of horseradish. My order was the antithesis to my wife’s. If hers was a classic, mine paid tribute to Back to the Future 2 with a look into what normal burger toppings will be in the time of hover skateboards and crazy geometric shaped sunglasses.

No. 8 BurgerB&B Fries Mac + Cheese #2

The No. 8 came with sweet smokey chipotle ketchup, smashed avocado, fresh arugula, aged cheddar and a nice over easy fried egg. Man, if I had to order this nod to torta anywhere else I would swear that they’d get it all wrong. Due to the sheer amount of ingredients and flavor combinations that are tucked between this bun, this could have been a train wreck of disappointment. Usually something gets lost, and never found when you got so much going on. Amazing grace this had it all!! Oh and you can get some non traditional sides to go with your burgers if you aren’t a fry guy. I don’t know…does duck confit mac n’ chee sound like something you might like? This stuff is so rich and luxurious, if you schmear it on your forehead your tongue will beat your brains out trying to get to it (#dadjoke). You’re full already I know, but try, if not for yourself than for the children, to salvage some room sharing of one their freshly made desserts. We sampled the maple bacon pancake cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Never before had I discovered breakfast for dessert in such way. Well there was that one time I poured creme caramel over a stack of flapjacks one shameful early morning jaunt in Manhattan.

Maple Bacon Pancake Cupcake

All in all, I couldn’t have guessed how far my expectations would be exceeded. If you don’t believe that the better the beef is for you, (meaning grass-fed and humanely sourced) the better the taste, you haven’t tried B&B Junction. Can’t wait to make my way down the list of options to see which one will razzle dazzle me next.

B&B Junction on Urbanspoon

Asiadog – New York City, NY

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I’m going to suggest that when it comes to New York hot dogs, you forget Nathan’s, forget Sabrett, forget Hebrew National. While all of those venerable names have provided tasty dogs to hungry patrons for decades, there is a new dog on the block, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s from Asia.

Owners Mel and Steve are celebrating their diverse Asian background by applying old world flavors to the humble New York staple. Asiadog is the manifestation of their desire to combine two corners of the culinary world to create seven tantalizing dogs with flavors from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. As with most brilliant ideas, once you see it, you wonder why this hasn’t been done before. Maybe it has, but there’s a reason I’m here talking about Asiadog and not some other lackluster joint. They get it right, and for all the sumo-sized flavors they’re pumping out, it all starts with the dog. You can pile any number of delectable toppings on a bland dog and it’ll fall flat, but start with a plump and juicy dog, bursting with unctuous saltiness, and you’ve got the perfect platform for a winning weiner.

Of the seven individuals on the list, I went with my soon-to-be-best-friends, Wanging and Vinh,  respectively of Chinese and Vietnamese descent. Wangding came fully loaded with a healthy pile of Chinese BBQ pork belly, thinly sliced cucumbers and scallions. It was actually reminiscent of a Peking duck bun. The omnipresent sauce tasted a bit like hoisin and the pork belly chunks had the same juicy tenderness of a well-roasted duck, pair that with a slightly sweet, spongy hot dog bun and you’re in for a Chinese chow-down.

Vinh was a nice compliment to the assertive Wangding. It traded the powerful brown BBQ/hoisin sauce for pickled carrot and daikon, fresh cucumber, jalepeño, cilantro and pork paté. Where the Wangding is something you’d appreciate on a frigid day in Beijing, the Vinh is a refreshing summer snack that you’d like to enjoy under cay hoa sua tree in one of the many parks in Hanoi. My only complaint was that the flavor of the paté was too timid compared to the pickled veg and jalepeño. Granted it did lend creaminess to the affair, but I really wanted a good slab of paté that made itself known. I’m nitpicking though, both dogs were just unbelievable, the best I’ve had in recent memory.

Not in the mood for a dog? You’re crazy, but it’s cool, Asiadog has a handful of alternatives that look just as tasty. A Korean bulgogi burger topped with either kimchi or Asian slaw, a pulled pork sammy with ginger BBQ sauce again with kimchi or slaw and the most intriguing, a kimchi pancake corndog, deep-fried and served with Korean chili sauce.

Asiadog, I love you guys, you hit all the right notes, a simple menu full of savory dogs, fresher than fresh, expertly executed Asian toppings and a well designed menu and graphic style to boot. Visiting New York? Living in New York? Why haven’t you been to Asiadog? I’ll definitely be back, kudos Mel and Steve, thank you so much for sharing your food with the world and keep up the good work!

P.S. Please make t-shirts with your logo on it, I know I’m not the only one who wants one!

Asiadog on Urbanspoon

Mise en Place – Tampa, FL

The sad fact is, there aren’t many fine dining destinations in the Tampa Bay area. Orlando has more to choose from in that department due to the many high-end resorts at Disney and the surrounding area.

My wife and I recently planned our 11 year anniversary dinner, but didn’t give ourselves much time to make a reservation. I started doing my patent pending research to find an available table around 2 PM the day of our dinner, needless to say, it was slim pickens. My secret process of “putting things in place,” always starts by looking at the menu. The menu is king. If I don’t see something I am positive my wife will love, it’s time to move on. After narrowing down the choices to a couple possible champions, I begin naming off menu items and descriptions out loud, while my wife was doing her hair and make-up. After seeing at least 30 menu items I would order in a heartbeat, Mise en Place won the menu war. I placed a phone call to reserve a table, and thankfully, they had one left for dinner service.

Mise en Place is not new to me, or the Bay area for that matter. They’ve been around for over 25 years. I first had my taste buds shaken about 5 years ago, when we were celebrating a work related milestone. It was the first time one of my best friends tried foie gras. I can still remember the smile on his face as the luxuriant offal overtook his senses. That’s what you should be looking for in a special meal. Something that will last forever. Mise en Place didn’t disappoint back then and they certainly haven’t lowered their standards since.

They tout themselves as “modern American” with an imaginative twist. The head chef Marty Blitz is always striving to create inventive new dishes for his diners. Look at their menu and tell me you wouldn’t agree with that mission statement. They seem to take on all the current food trends, and elevate them to such great  heights. For example, take my amuse bouche, if you were to put a traditional bahn mi on a plate, no matter how luxurious the taste, it would look pedestrian. But when you break down the flavors and reconstruct them, starting with sous vide lobster, pickled vegetables and lime aioli, and then reuniting everything on paper-thin char-grilled slices of baguette, you’ve got something inspiring.

For starters, my spouse ordered a warm wild mushroom salad, with shaved parmesan and black truffle. Simple enough, however when you focus on how all these complex flavors manage to sing together perfectly, you begin to appreciate the attention to detail and flavor crafting that “Mise” exhibits. I thought, while prying a bite from her cold mushroom-wielding hands, that this dish was like a walk through a forest that leads into a lush garden. My only taste was at first earthy and rich from the mushroom and sweated onions. The taste transitioned as my teeth sank into the tender flesh of the hen-of-the-woods and porcini, I was simultaneously hit with the sherry vinaigrette which had touches of lavender. Finally the truffle took over and reverberated until the next course.

I should say now that I chose not to order a main. There were so many starters catching my attention, that a main course just wasnt going to fit in my budget or gullet. My wife did though, so it was her time to sit and watch the degustation process unfold.

Next up was Korean spiced scallops with a mango mint salad and lemongrass BBQ sauce, lounging atop a pillowy nest of edamame puree and a few drops of miso vinaigrette. The star was the one lightly fried duck dumpling flavored with pickled plum that found its way on the plate.  I wish I could have had an entire plate of those with the lemongrass BBQ sauce. I’ve never been the biggest scallop fan, and I went for a bit of a stretch with ordering this dish but it was a winner and swayed me a bit toward the pro-scallop crowd. I know there are plenty of you out there.


As soon as the first appetizer was devoured, and a new one appeared. That’s my mantra. Like I said, Mise en Place identifies food trends quite well, and what could be a better example of what hip, non-prescription eyeglass wearing beardos love eating than poutine. Mise offered two preparations. One with an oxtail gravy and fresh cheese curds, the other with lobster and brandy gravy. I chose the oxtail, to avoid lobster psychosis (uncharacteristic of me I know). The poutine was presented in a crescent-shaped bowl, which is the way poutine should from now on, always be served. Traditionally the base is frites, with all the toppings dumped on top. This version used a roasted fingerling potato quartered lengthwise, intermingled with the gravy, shreds of oxtail and globes of cheese curds to create a stew. The end result was a fine dish any Québécois would proudly enjoy.

My wife rejoined the party when her spice rubbed duck breast appeared, along with swiss chard that had little strands of  duck leg confit and minced mushrooms, finished off with a touch of blood orange and sherry jus. The duck was beautifully cooked and had the most amazingly crisp skin to boot. Underneath it all, hid a nicely sized cannelloni of foie gras mousse. It was a grand surprise to me since I overlooked it while perusing the menu. Nothing beats homemade pasta. Nothing except shoving duck liver mousse inside a tube of fresh pasta and then nestling it beneath a supple breast…of duck.

 

My last savory dish was porcini dusted foie gras with a ramp, bacon, and corn brick, this was  topped with the tiniest  slivers of pickled shallot. Of course the foie gras was fantastic. It was everything you want when ordering foie. Rich, buttery, nutty with a the slightest mineral tinge. The one item on the plate that messed with my mind was that brick! It played tricks on me. As I took that first bite, all I could do was giggle like a little kid, because that’s how it made me feel. Of course I knew I was eating at a fine dining establishment, but that took me back to sitting at the kitchen table on a summer afternoon eating lunch with my dad and brother. The only thing I thought of was that it tasted like the first time you grabbed a handful a sour cream and onion chips, and shoved them in your mouth. Just one of those familiarities that make you shake your head and smile. Anytime food can transport you to another time or place, it’s a success.

Finally dessert was served.  She ordered chocolate peanut dacquoise, with salted peanut brittle and caramel. To describe the flavor, think snickers bar turned on its head. Something the pastry chef for Marie Antoinette would have thought up.

I chose a goat cheesecake with a strawberry-rhubarb marmalade. The cake and the preserves were brought together with a pistachio cookie bridge. Both selections were edible works of art. Almost as appealing to the eye as to the tongue. The fact that all of my senses were engaged simultaneously by the evenings final morsel was truly a feat worthy of applause.

Mise en Place has been around for as long as many of you have been alive. You wouldn’t know it unless you knew it, because they are constantly looking to improve and innovate. With each visit, they have managed to impress and astound, and I see no reason for this trend to stop.

Mise En Place on Urbanspoon

Hottie Hawgs – Atlanta, GA

I’m a Florida boy, so that means having to be subjected to horrible BBQ my entire existence. I’ve constantly craved a taste of the good stuff. Naturally, human beings want what they can’t have but decades old mainstays in cities like Memphis, St. Louis and Kansas City have provided many a BBQ lovers paradise. Atlanta, however, has never quite joined the Valhalla of ‘que.

Last week I was chatting up a new friend of mine, who happens to be one half of Lakeland cult classic, The Poor Porker. I told her I was heading up to Atlanta for a long weekend and asked if she had any tasty joints I should visit. She gave me Hottie Hawg’s, a BBQ joint on the outskirts of the metro Atlanta area where an old friend of hers works as the executive chef. If you respect your friends, you listen to their suggestions, that’s why you ask them in the first place isn’t it? So after some correspondence, it was decided that I would be meeting, greeting and eating at Hottie Hawgs, and to my surprise, Jimmy would be joining me, Eat a Duck was to be represented in full force.

To help you appreciate my time at the Hawg, I must say that the day so far had been quite tense and I wasn’t in the best of moods. The moment I walked up, however, that all changed. Entering the parking lot, you’re greeted by a completely decked out competition BBQ trailer , a smoker made to look like a train, and a mountain bike to match the exterior of Hottie Hawgs. You can tell these guys are having fun. It is such a welcoming space. The interior is clad in brick and wood with vintage concert posters littering the ceilings. It feels like you’re walking into a cross between a good friends cabin and your favorite neighborhood pub.

Our waitress, Jessica, welcomed us with a smile and let us pick our table. We decided on the indoor porch/tequila bar for best lighting. As we looked over the menu we asked Jessica what she’d recommend. To me this is like a test of the quality of the restaurant. If the server hesitates whatsoever, it either means the food isn’t worth the staff sampling it, or they haven’t done their homework, both of which reflect negatively on the establishment. But she didn’t hesitate, and suggested the mysterious Armadillo Eggs. Now, I hope I’m describing this properly, they’re pickled jalepeño, stuffed with cream cheese and chopped brisket. They’re then battered, fried and drizzled with maple habañero sauce, sort of like poppers with a delicious twist. She also mentioned the intriguingly named “Hawg Balls”, their version of fried mac n’ cheese, served with petal sauce.

Fried mac n' cheese

As Jessica turned in our starters, the head chef Matthew came out to introduce himself. It was such a breath of fresh air for be treated so warmly by the entire crew. He smiled approvingly at our choices and shared a few stories about how some of the dishes came to be on the menu. Like beanies and weenies, which, like most things, came out of necessity when a snowstorm knocked out food deliveries for a week. The food stopped coming, but the locals didn’t. They walked over in snow shoes looking for some grub. Matthew had to think fast, so he whipped up some homemade baked beans and kielbasa they had in the walk-in. It was such a hit that everyone begged for it to be a permanent addition to the menu. He also proudly mentioned that they had won the brisket category at last years KCBS sanctioned Atlanta BBQ competition. Luckily, we had the much heralded brisket already on the way. We shook hands and he excused himself to the kitchen to work his magic.

Jessica arrived moments later with our starters and gave us a nice overview of their homemade sauces. Now I’m not sure how we got on the subject, but we found out that they had a special a while back that involved a garlic ranch dipping sauce. Jimmy, being the garlic fiend that he is, asked if they had any in the back. She said she didn’t think so but she would ask. No more than 10 minutes later she came back with that very sauce, as delicious as we imagined. The sides were intriguing as well. Out of the 10 or so options we chose, coca-cola collard greens and onion hay, since Jimmy is an aficionado on the subject of fried onions. Jessica also said we had a choice between jalapeño cheese cornbread and Texas toast. We could tell by the look in her eye that the cornbread was the way to go, so we went for it. As the food came out it was like an edible conga line of crispy, saucy, spicy and smokey enticements. The excitement was building.

 

I have to say, up until the moment I tasted Hottie Hawgs award-winning entry, I hated brisket. I’ve been watching a certain BBQ competition reality show recently to try to learn the science of brisket. As far as I’m concerned, the Hawg passed every test. The elasticity, the smoke ring, the crust, and moistness levels were as good as I could have expected. The ribs didn’t fall of the bone too easily, but were extremely tender. That’s what you want in a good rib. They were smokey and covered in their own dry rub and tomato based sauce, which made the outside nice and sticky. Now let’s talk cornbread. There had to be a reason Jessica put it on a pedestal. As lame as I might sound it was the best I had ever had at any restaurant, or anywhere else for that matter. It was so moist and gooey that it was one step from being pudding. Dear god it was insane.

As we finished our smorgasbord, Matthew came back to check on us. We talked some more about food and the Atlanta area, about other restaurants he liked, and how the locals have really embraced the place. There’s big support on Friday and Saturday nights, when the live music starts pumping. You can tell that they’re really working to make it the premier place to find Atlanta ‘que, and so far, they’re on the right track. I mean, when we were asked if there was anything we didn’t like, we just looked at each other stupidly, as we couldn’t think of one thing we would’ve changed. That feeling isn’t a coincidence though. We talked about how restaurants have to adapt and not rest on their laurels. The night before, Jimmy went to a BBQ establishment in Charlotte that was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. He was extremely disappointed as it seemed as if they had become complacent about their food since being featured on television. Matthew is anything but lazy with his food. He insists that the menu change often to entice repeat customers with new flavors, while keeping people happy with the famous mainstays. I was very impressed with the way Hottie Hawgs mixed competition BBQ, soul food, and bar food classics, into something that’s a cut above your average BBQ joint.

I thought we were done as I was completely satisfied, but Jessica had something sweet for us. Fried cookie balls. Cookie dough wrapped around gooey dark chocolate and covered in caramel and vanilla bean ice cream. We couldn’t resist. Again, this looks and sounds simple. However, I feel, after eating it, that whoever invented it should be nominated for a Nobel peace prize. That dessert could end wars.

What an amazing lunch. Not often does a place make feel me like an invited guest, even though I’m just an unknown schmuck. Jessica came back one last time to make sure everything was up to snuff. We both agreed it was terrific and thanked her so much for taking care of us. You can tell that the entire staff, owner included, really care about the success of Hottie Hawg and they have a real passion for what they’re doing. Now that we’ve seen firsthand what they’re all about , we care too. That’s why we won’t visit the Atlanta area without making a pit stop at our new favorite BBQ establishment.

Hottie Hawgs – 2061 Main Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 • 404.794.5224 • www.hottiehawgsbbq.com

Hottie Hawg's Smokin' BBQ on Urbanspoon

Beewon Korean Cuisine – Orlando, FL

I’ve been off work for the past few days and been getting a mini cabin fever feeling. So my family spent the day running some errands and buying some groceries, when we starting feeling some rumblings in our. When asked what I wanted for lunch, the first thing the popped into my head was Korean BBQ! And I knew just where to go. Beewon Korean cuisine is located where most great independent restaurants are, a strip mall. Walking into the main dining area looks pretty generic. New, clean, nice, and lots of stone and dark wood, intermingled with little hints of bamboo. Some of the tables have small burners in the middle if the table.Some did not, which is odd to me. Who decides if you’re going to need the burners? Do you figure that out after you order? I really didn’t let it bother me as much as some people have in their reviews. The menu is tiny compared to the many other Korean BBQ places in the area with maybe 20 choices that include starters, soup, meats, noodles, and hotpots. Some of them items weren’t even in English, only Korean . So I guess I wasn’t going to order any of those things. So I went with the safe bets. Fried pork dumpling was better than most dumplings that you get at every Asian eatery. One side is nice and charred, while the other keeps it’s soft steamed exterior. The skin of the dumpling was uniquely creamy and smooth. Definitely and delicately made in house. Great beginning to a bit of a shaky start.  But the food is what counts right? Not the pomp and circumstance. The waitress then brought out the banchan which is the condiments for the entrees.  They consisted of traditional daikon kimchee, pickled daikon strips, pickled seaweed, sticky rice and strangely, potato salad. Have I been out of the Korean BBQ game so long that I was unaware of the use of a southern picnic staple as a topping? Whatever the case, it worked. And whoever made it really did it justice. Creamy cubes of red potato, diced green  apple and cucumber, boiled egg, and a 80/20 mayo/mustard dressing impressed me. And then came out the main course. A smoke trail from the kitchen to the table as our beef bulgogi was presented. It was as expected. Paper thin slices of Ribeye on a bed of green and white onions. Smothered with a Ginger, garlic and sweet wine sauce. You can tell that it was marinated in the same vein because the meat was packed with flavor. Then it’s grilled at an extremely high temperature and for just enough time to get some char. Sprinkled with sesame seeds and you are in business pal. The waitress was very nice and attentive. However she didn’t have much to do since they was only one other couple in the room. But it was 3 in the afternoon so I gave them a break on the emptiness. I was very pleased with everything, the dumplings were great, the kimchees didn’t overpower as they can sometimes taste too fermented, and finally the beef was very tasty. I’m looking forward to my next visit as they have pork belly marinated in wine on the menu.

Beewon Korean Cuisine – 5100 Dr Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819 – 407.601.7788

Bee Won Korean Cuisine on Urbanspoon