#PigOutOKC is brought to you by the Oklahoma Pork Council. Twice a month we’ll be delving into restaurants and recipes that bring home the bacon (among other delicious cuts of pork). Experiencing your own pork-fueled adventure? Use the hashtag #PigOutOKC to let the rest of us in on the fun.
Of all the cuisines one might lump into that broad category of “Asian,” Korean food might be the meatiest.
Different regions cook differently, of course, based on the kinds of ingredients to which they have access. Lots of ocean? Probably going to see some seafood. Lots of pasture? Get ready for livestock.
Except that, like so many cuisines, the meatiness has a lot more to do with where you’re eating than it does the origins of the dish. Korean food seems very meat-centric because we’re in Oklahoma, where meat is cheap. Beef prices in Korea are some of the highest in the world, so all that galbi-tang and bulgogi we love is a once-in-a-blue-moon treat for many Koreans.
Which, hey, I’m not complaining. I am both an enjoyer of meat and a cheapskate, so I’ll gladly take all the affordable and delicious Korean food I can get. Which led me back to one of my favorite spots: Dong-A Korean Restaurant in Moore.
I love restaurants of all sorts, but I have a special kinship with eateries located in very uncool places, like strip mall shopping centers. I, too, am very uncool, but when people get to know me...wait.
Okay, I guess I aspire to be like Dong-A, which overcomes its milieu with extremely delicious food. It’s the kind of setting that’s so uncool it’s cool.
But the reason you’re at Dong-A isn’t to flout the idea of place-ism, which I may have just invented? It’s because you’re hungry and you know Korean food is wonderful. If you don’t know yet Korean food is wonderful, this is a good reason to discover that fact.
I’m obsessed with dumplings, so it’s a given that I’m going to recommend the yaki-mandu (10 for $6.99), which are these beef-and-veg-filled pot stickers that are deep fried to a glorious deep gold.
If you like to boost your sodium intake with some soy sauce, take a small bite of the dumpling and then dunk it in your soy-saucer and watch the web of protein and vegetables suck it up. (You can dunk them without taking a bite, of course, but the fried shell keeps it from picking up much sauce otherwise.)
Scallion pancake are delicious, but if you’re really ready to buy a furnished condo in Flavor Town, you must get the kimchi pajun ($6.99). It’s a tender little savory pancake with kimchi grilled inside it. Give me a bowl of these and turn on a sport I do not understand (probably cricket) and I’ll mindlessly eat kimchi pajun all day long.
The menu at Dong-A isn’t huge, but there’s plenty of variety. Still, you’ll be forgiven if you choose the dol-sot bibimbab ($12.99), because of course you want it. Bibimbab (or bibimbap) is an iconic Korean dish of steamed rice with marinated beef, pickled vegetables, and a fried egg. Dol-sot bibimbab comes in a blazing hot stone bowl, so all that steamed rice starts to crisp up around the edges, giving the dish a nutty flavor and an addictive texture.
I was not as taken with the cha jang myun ($9.99), but your mileage may vary. This was first introduced to me by Michelle Bui, who called it “black spaghetti” and I was on board. It’s a big bowl of tender noodles, covered in a sauce of black beans, pork, and potatoes—perfect for a cold day. The one thing I felt it lacked was a bit of brightness, which gives a dish momentum. That’s where I recommend using the banchan on the table (here’s a guide to banchan for your reading pleasure) to spice things up. Kimchi, in particular, is great at lightening up a pretty heavy dish.
Usually bulgogi (or bulgogie on Dong-A’s menu) is beef, but this is #PigOutOKC, so I opted for the pork bulgogie ($13.99). It’s thin slices of pork that are marinated in peppers and spicy sauce and then grilled, kind of like fajitas, and served with jalapeno and onions. Be sure to pile it on the accompanying steamed rice, which will soak up all those delicious sizzling juices.
As someone who enjoys fried meats, I was immediately drawn to the tonkatsu ($10.99), which is similar to wienerschnitzel, but covered in savory Korean barbecue sauce. It’s crispy and crunchy and the meat is juicy. If you’re worried that Korean food might be too spicy or too different from what you’re used to, this is a great way to dip your toes into the cuisine.
The Oklahoma Pork Council represents the interests all of pork producers throughout the state, promoting pork and pork products, funding research and educating consumers and producers about the pork industry. Learn more about the OPC, find recipes and more at OKPork.org.