After a long hiatus following the fiery destruction of its first truck in 2011 and a stalled brick-and-mortar attempt, Kim Jong Grillin' is back on SE Division.
Owner Han Ly Hwang’s menu earned its cult following by paying homage to the wonder that is Korean barbecue, offering bulgogi, galbi, spicy chicken, and spicy pork served with rice and various banchan (Korean sides such as saucy bean sprouts and an epic variety of kimchi).
Our pick for getting the most during your meal? Order the $10 Bibim Box, truly a thing of glory and no doubt the star of the menu. Humbly presented in a carry-out box, this one-plate wonder is more than the sum of its essential components: smoky sweet meat resting atop a bed of fluffy white rice, a generous helping of japchae noodles, assorted banchan, a perfectly fried egg, a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, and a hit of Korean gochujang sauce.
Outside of the box, both literally and figuratively, Hwang’s creative muscles are best flexed in his KJG Hot Dog: a NYC-style Sabrett hot dog served on a bahn mi baguette slathered with kimchi aioli and stuffed with sesame sprouts and daikon kimchi and topped with slices of pickled mango. A combination of flavors and textures hitherto unexplored in any of the Korean fusion we've seen, the dog strikes a perfect balance of Korean, American, and French/Vietnamese influence, marrying those fermented flavors so integral to Korean cuisine with the all-American frank, it also calls to mind the hot dog-stuffed-baguettes sold on the streets of Paris. Is there a more delicious way to get global? We think not—and at $6, it's a bit more affordable than globe-trotting plane fare.
Not in the mood for the big commitment of a Bibim Box or the fusion flair of the dog? The $4 lettuce wraps cater to those with smaller appetites looking for a quick and portable snack. Filled with a choice of meat, rice, and one side, all wrapped up in lettuce and tied with a green onion bow, the wrap is also well suited to timid newcomers just whetting their appetites for Korean fare. But don’t worry, the smaller size does not sacrifice any boldness of flavor. It's as spot-on as every other dish on the menu. Here's to hoping we'll be able to enjoy these flavors for a long time to come.
Kim Jong Grillin’
SE 46th and Division
Tue-Fri 12-9 pm; Sat 1-9 pm