When I first heard of Jonga Jip, it was introduced to me as “that place where they wear the orange shirts”. Well, the uniform seemed to have changed since, but the sheer number of banchan (Korean side dishes) is still the stuff of legends.
And did I mention that we get free refills?
Wine Pork Belly
Marinated Beef Ribs
I must say that in the case of Korean BBQ, I am a creature of habit. Always a pork belly and beef ribs, both marinaded, of course. And they’ve never disappointed.
The beef ribs were butterflied – the chunk of meat thinly sliced out in one continuous flat piece that stemmed out from the bone. The smoke from the tabletop barbecue mixed in with the sweet/salty marinade, and those little pieces of chewy beef just GIVES ME LIFE. My favourite thing to do is to wrap it with a bit of rice in the lettuce leaves (part of the banchan, but more about that later) and top it with the mustard/vinegared onion slices that come with every barbecue order. So fresh, so satisfying.
The pork belly (cut in thick rashes and steeped in rice wine), wasn’t as sweetly boozy as I’m used to, but had a really good distribution of meat to fat ratio, and also made for very good ssam (lettuce wrapped parcels).
Like many Asian restaurants with decent food, Jonga Jip is not well known for their service. On the most recent visit, we pretty much had a table overflowing with food and raw meat, but an empty hole in the table (and my heart) where the glowing charcoal should be.
When I asked them after about 5 minutes where the charcoal was, I was told that it was another 15 min wait because they had to light the coals. Sorry, no comprende.
Did they have to wait till I had a full table of uncooked meat before you lit the coals? Do they light the coals on demand?
WHAT IS GOING ONNNNN???
I must say though that otherwise they’re pretty quick with the free side dish refill and water, so I guess I can overlook the one, very bizarre transgression.
If you’re nitpicky about the service, I’d suggest you sit indoors. The tables have push buttons that call the waiters for you – no one gets ignored, and it’s fun for the whole family.
Value for money:
We had two marinated meats, three bowls of rice, and a whopping FIFTEEN plates of side dishes, all for a satisfying $53. I think it’s pretty bang for your buck, considering that we all stumbled out of there clutching our bellies like we could never eat again.
I kid, we can always eat again.
As with many Asian restaurants, Jonga Jip follows the math we all know and love: the more people you bring to split the bill with, the more worthwhile it becomes for you as the meat and side dishes get shared. Very good value for a dinner out.
Always busy, this Korean BBQ joint is very popular amongst the locals, and sometimes has to resort to the number ticketing system. In fact, business is so good that there is also a Jonga Jip II right around the corner.
Inside, the word to describe the atmosphere is “bustling”, as the chatter of hungry diners and sizzle of meats mingle in the smoky air. There’s nothing quite like breathing in that first hand smoke as you fill your belly with meats.
And I mean that in a good way, too. No music needed to get the party pumping – just barbecued meats and good fun.
If you do decide to drop by Jonga Jip, please don’t wear your good clothes. And by that, I mean “be prepared to come out smelling like you’ve been roasting over coals yourself”. And never, NEVER, go after a hair-wash.
Please trust me on this. Been there, done that.
And if barbecue isn’t quite your thing, well they do an a la carte menu of rices, dumplings, pancakes and hotpots too. But so does practically every other restaurant in Eastwood. Give Korean BBQ a try if you haven’t already. Trust me, you won’t regret it.