In light of the recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula making news headlines in the past month, when I went in to grab lunch for us the other week, I asked the husband/owner of Jin Joo if he knew of the similarities and differences between north and south Korean cuisine. To which he simply said north Korean food is spicier (hotter).
Well, until we get a restaurant in Honolulu named “Kim Jong II North Korean Restaurant” (notice how that looks like Kim Jon Il), we’ll just continue to enjoy the wonderful Korean food of the south from popular Korean restaurants here such as Kim Chee, Sorabol, Million, Yummy’s and what we have here at Jin Joo in the Waimalu (Aiea) area.
KHNL news “Cheap Eats” reporters Lyle Galdeira and Russell Yamanoha stopped by here back in March of this year for a review, to which they made claim that Jin Joo’s Big Bone Kal Bi was THE dish to get. So that’s what I got…
What Lyle and Russell pointed out with this Kal Bi is they filet the beef from one large-cut bone, versus how most other fast food Korean restaurants make their Kal Bi using short ribs that are cut thinly across a series of rib bones. The former being how Kal Bi is traditionally made in Korea.
Here’s the underside of the 3 pieces of Kal Bi on the plate…
Nice char-grilled markings.
The plate was kinda’ lacking in the banchan department though. The Korean style pickled bean sprouts were pretty good. The pickled cabbage just ok. The Kim Chee was rather limp and non-noteworthy. I wish all Korean restaurants had a plethora of Banchan for customers to pick and choose (usually 4 choices) to their own discretion, but Jin Joo is one of those that only offers house set of Kim Chee, bean sprouts and cabbage. Not connotating I don’t appreciate that, but just saying.
As for the Kal Bi, it was tender and moist, and huge points plus for the flame-grilled char-grilled burnt edges. Yet it lacked that “per Kal Bi boost” due to what tasted like they were only marinaded for a short period of time. Compounded by them not being basted with with more Kal Bi sauce as it cooked. So it lacked that sweet and spicy glazed-on finish. I just love asian style teriyaki and Kal Bi beef coated thick with ooey-gooey, glazed-on sauce, though these somewhat lacked that attribute. If only they were basted while they were grilled, the Kal Bi from Jin Joo would go from good to Kim Jong Illin’ un-B-leivable! lol Seriously.
With that, I give Jin Joo’s Kal Bi 2 SPAM Musubi.
Diner A went with the Mundoo/Meat Chun/Chicken plate…
His favorite item on the plate was the Mundoo…
He wasn’t as favorable towards the Meat Chun (a.k.a. Meat Jun), noting that the thinly sliced beef didn’t taste seasoned or marinaded at all, while the fried egg and flour batter didn’t add much more support the beef’s blandness. He said the chicken was moist and tender, but like my Kal Bi, it too lacked any punch from the Korean sytle sauce.
With that, he gave his mixed plate 1 SPAM Musubi.
Here’s another Kal Bi plate (I watched about 5 of them go out the service counter while waiting for my order)…
Jin Joo has dine-in tables in the small establishment with the owners as your server, or you can order take-out like we did…
Jin Joo Korean Restaurant
Waimalu Shopping Ctr
98-020 Kamehameha Hwy
Aiea, Hawaii 96701
The Tasty Island rating:
P.S. The other day I picked up another Kal Bi plate from Palama Market on the corner of Kalakaua and Makaloa street, next to the Kaheka Don Quijote (a.k.a. Daiei, a.k.a. Holiday Mart)…
OMG, now THIS IS KAL BI my friends. This is the second time getting this plate from here, and both times prove this is one of the best Kal Bi plates I’ve had yet on the island. And for just $6.75? Are you kidding me?!
Notice they use the typical plate lunch stand style (cheaper) short ribs cuts, but that doesn’t matter. They got the marinade and cooking method down! All the banchan items (preselected) are excellent as well.
Trust me, if you want excellent Kal Bi, regardless of ambiance (it’s located in a market food court) or price, consider Palama Market near Don Quijote. Both your tummy and your wallet will thank you. Considering everything that makes Kal Bi GREAT Kal Bi, easy 5 SPAM Musubi here.