Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Jang Su BBQ Restaurant

New Jang Su
Korean Barbecue is basically the best beer drinking dinner of all time. It's flawless. It's fun. It's definitely up there among the "interesting going out for dinner adventures" category. (Others in said category include shabu shabu, rodizio, habachi, robata, dim sum, etc.) There's pretty much nothing more fun than sitting around a grill table with friends, drinking cheap beer, and grilling some delicious meat. Furthermore, with Korean Barbecue, you're guaranteed all those fun little pickled dishes called banchan. There's the traditional kimchi, but odds are you'll also be enjoying some sort of pickled daikon, a bit of fish cake, some marinated bean sprouts, and then some pickled cucumber, among other possibilities.
Dining Room
New Jang Su is among the best Korean BBQ that I've experienced. It's located not far from the Asian supermarket that we've just explored known as Hmart in Burlington, and while you may find yourself tempted to conclude your visit to Hmart with a bowl of noodles at one of the little restaurants located inside of the supermarket, I recommend that you spend the extra four minutes or so to drive to New Jang Su down the road for Korean BBQ. It's just that much better.
The Banchan
If you're a newcomer to the experience of Korean BBQ, there's no need to be intimidated. It's easy to fall in love, and actually at this restaurant, they're fairly accustomed to newcomers. The kind server will ask if you're here for the BBQ, and at that point you should nod your head, and allow her to seat you at one of the tables with a grill in the middle and a little exhaust dome hanging overhead. When perusing the menu, head straight to the bbq section; it's a single page. There are about ten different items on this page, all involving some kind of meat, or a seafood and vegetable, or all of the above. We usually select the short rib item (kalbi) and then the bul go ki. After you order, one of the staff will run over and light your grill from underneath. While the grill and the charcoal heat up, another server will bring over little dishes of cucumber pickles, daikon pickles, kimchi, marinated bean sprouts, a sauce of salty fermented beans, and a final little dish of thin little fish cakes. There will also be a bowl of rice for each person, and a little basket of crispy lettuce leaves. Feel free to taste each to see what they have going on, but don't eat too much, as you'll need each of these to build your little lettuce wraps as soon as your meat is cooked. Also note, if you happen to run out of any one item as you make your way through the meat, you can ask for as many refills as you need. 
Short Rib
Soon after the grill has heated up, the server will bring over two dishes of meat: one of them is the bul go ki, which will look like a mound of marinated thin slices of short round beef. The other is the short rib kalbi, which will include two thick bones, and then long strips of marinated beef. The first dish to go on the grill is the short rib. The server will ask whether you would like to grill the bones, and the answer is yes, because you want to be able to pick every last bit of meat off of that plate. She'll lay the long strips on the appropriate place on the grill, and then place the bones. After a few seconds, she'll draw her weapon, a sharp pair of scissors, and cut approximate three inch pieces from the long strip of beef. She'll turn them over, and retreat from the kitchen for a moment, returning when the beef is done. At this point, the strips are placed to a cooler part of the grill and you are free to feast.
Assembled Wrap with Short Rib
Now to assemble your lettuce wrap. Pick up a lettuce leaf and place in the palm of your hand. Apply a little bit of the fermented soy bean sauce. Grab a tablespoon of rice from your bowl and place on top of the sauce. Add a slice of the short rib meat. Top with a piece of kimchi. Fold over your lettuce leaf ends to wrap, and maneuver to pie hole. It's really such a simple dish, but so delicious. Every element is essential to the overall depth of flavor in the wrap: the crisp lettuce as a vehicle from hand to face, the fluffy rice, that salty, funky sauce, and then the marinated, tender savory beef, all kissed with a bit of heat from the leaf of spicy kimchi. It's really a perfect couple of bites at a time, and each time that you make your wrap, you can vary the flavor by adding more pickles, or going without on occasion. Also, I can't emphasize enough how delicious the short rib is. It has such developed flavor from their tangy, salty marinade, made just a bit more complex by the little caramelized bits from the grill and the general fun of watching the meat shrink up in front of you. 
Assembling Wrap with Bul Go Ki
The bul go ki is just as good as the kalbi, but since it arrives in a mound of thinly sliced beef, it has just a bit more of the flavor from being covered at every possible angle with the marinade. It's also texturally different after being cooked. While with the kalbi you have the straight bite of beef, the bul go ki is a little bit easier to bite off as it has kind of a well-cooked shredded quality after being grilled. So just as fun, and just as delicious, and just different enough that it's an essential order for your table to make.
I go back to this place every time I happen to find myself in Burlington. It's just fantastic Korean BBQ, from the service, to the kind of unusual location of the restaurant (strip mall territory), to the fact that the food is just that good to draw you outside of Boston and into "Greater Boston." I highly recommend that if you need a good meal, and have some time to sip some beer and eat some delicious meat in an interesting atmosphere, you make your way to New Jang Su with a group of friends ready to have a great time. 


New Jang Su BBQ
260 Cambridge St
Burlington, MA 01803

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