Wednesday, August 12, 2009

1st Annual Korean Barbeque Cookoff

Oh Em Gee.

I cannot believe the success of this event. I mean, I know how much people love Korean barbeque but this was ridiculously successful - so successful it was almost annoying. If you wanted to eat something, the lines were at least a 20 minute wait. Some lines moved faster than others because the restaurant owners were more efficient and set up some sort of cracked out assembly line. Other restaurants took too long to cook and then even longer to distribute. A lot of people were walking around with corn because they were cheap ($3) and fast. Next year, I hope they have a lot more sides featured. Korean bbq is awesome but Korean banchan is also a staple as well as a crowd pleaser. Apparently, there were 10,000 people who passed through the doors that day. That's so incredible. It's amazing to see how people come together for food. To organize this massive crowd to come to a charity event would be much more difficult, I'm sure.

At $10-$15 a plate, the bbq plates were not the cheapest. Hell, you could have driven to the restaurants and eaten their AYCE bbq in less time than eating here. But people still came in droves, paid $5 in parking, another $10-$15 in food, and stayed for the contests to spot the likes of Jonathan Gold, Evan Kleiman, Russ Parson as the judges. Of course, there were politicians there too, as well as comics and hordes of newscasters and media.

I sported a media badge as well. I was there filming some stuff for Yong, the organizer's brother. I was allowed to keep my footage for my doc so I thought it'd be a mutually beneficial gig. I wish I got more footage though, but we only started filming from 5pm. H.C. was my host, and asked some splendid questions to the judges. We even got an interview with Jonathan Gold and Evan Kleiman.


This is not part of the interview, but just a shot of J. Gold thinking hard about the dish he just had. It was pretty intense watching the judges eat and then evaluate the dishes. The one that won (Mu Dae Po) was actually the only restaurant we waited in line to eat at since it seemed short and popular enough. Were they really the best? Actually, I'm not sure. I don't know what kind of meat the judges got but I thought what I ate was just okay, and it could have been because it was already so cold by the time I sat down and ate it but then again, the judges were saying that by the time they get to eat and judge it, the meat is always cold.

Some of the dishes from the other restaurants looked amazing! Mu Dae Po's wasn't bad either but just in terms of presentation, I think So Hyang's was the prettiest. What do you think?

Doesn't it look amazing? These dishes elevated Korean bbq to a whole other level. Not only was this event successful, but everyone felt this to be true: this ain't the last time they're having it! I hope next year, they feature not just Korean bbq but also a lot more other meat dishes like spicy pork, and maybe even Korean fried chicken, bool dak (fire chicken), and a host of banchans. If the corns were any sign of success for the carb lovers, they should have a few more cheaper finger food options like that. The beer garden was a huge hit and the VIP tent was pretty cool.

Yes, the wait was long but in the end, I think people didn't mind going to an event that would introduce them to the world of Korean bbq. For the veterans, you might be surprised to find a new place. I've never been to Mu Dae Po and am willing to try them again since I don't think my plate was a good representation of what they have to offer and obviously, they're good for a reason since they won.

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