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Birthday Lunch at Arirang

We return to Arirang Bar-B-Q Korean Cuisine Restaurant yet again, this time in celebration of Diner A’s birthday last month, making this one of them “retro posts”.

Trying to play catch-up, I’ve just been WAY too busy at work lately, barely having time to blink, let alone have enough energy left when I come home to write a post. Sheesh. Well, finally catching my breath again, here goes.

Let’s take a look at Arirang’s current menu…

OK, hold on a minute. Do you see how they twist the spelling? This is the same “issue” I had with Soon’s Kal-Bi Drive-In in Salt Lake.

I mean, look, on the top part of the second page under Mixed Rice, they spell it JAP CHAE BOK, then in the side order section they spell it CHOP CHAE.Then they’re spelling Meat and Fish Jun as JEON, while other Korean eateries around town spell it either JUNN, JOON or JEONG. And THEN there’s the whole twist on “Barbecue”, where Korean restaurants will spell it either BBQ, BAR-B-Q or BAR-B-CUE, to name just a few! Occasionally “Under New Management” of course! LOL!!!

Um, Hello? Can we PLEASE have Korean restaurant menu spelling STANDARDS here? </panties_in_a_twist_rant_over>. LOL!!!!!

First to arrive on the table for everyone except Diner E and P (me), is this here EXCELLENT Korean style seaweed soup, a.k.a. Miyeok Guk

The broth is rather subtle and mildly salty in an earthy way, yet so comforting, while the seaweed – the thin, wide leaf Wakame type – is so soft ‘n tender, welcoming in a great meal to come…

Getting to the main event, let’s start with birthday boy Diner A’s combo’ Kalbi and Fish Jeon (God, that spelling messes me up every time lol)….

Diner C also ordered the same surf ‘n turf dish as Diner A, which I’d concur is a GREAT call…

Then we have our Uchinanchu brother, Diner “Saimin Kaukau” E’s Mandoo Kook Soo…

Rounding out our office ohana pack, Diner JM’s Jap Chae Bok…

Last but never least, the order of Yours Truly, Arirang’s Soft Tofu Stew, a.k.a. Sundubu Jigae

A still photo really doesn’t do this stew justice, as it arrived at the table rapidly boiling, like mad witches were cooking bats in this scalding-hot cast iron bowl. Of which Diner A took video of it with his now-obsolete iPhone 4S, but I don’t have the file on me at the moment. I’ll get it later. Perhaps when he upgrades to an iPhone 5. Loser. lol

So anyhow, each entree comes with a set of Banchan, which are Korean side dishes usually either marinaded or pickled, similar to Japanese Tsukemono. In my case, my Soft Tofu soup (Soon Dooboo sp?) included the most vast set of all…

Wow! Note to self: order anything off the soup and stew menu at Arirang and they will HOOK YOU UP with the Banchan!

The Banchan for everyone else were these, based on their particular orders, starting with this Gobo and Chili pepper deal…

Korean style marinaded shoyu potatoes… My FAVE! FAVE! FAVE!…

OK, pau. That’s it. This post is over. Just give me a bowl of Korean Shoyu Potatoes and call it a night. Goodbye. Seriously though, you don’t even know how much I LOVE this stuff, and Arirang’s take on it is STELL-AR.

As is Arirang’s Kimchee also STELL-AR…

Now we’re back to my Soon Dubu set (see, I spelled it differently again, take that, you… you.. you!!!… lol)…

Let’s zoom in, starting with this Iriko and peppers deal…

Korean shoyu potatoes, Arirang’s take on it GOLD in my book!…

Again, for my Soun Dubu (ha-ha-ha!!), Kim Chi…

Taiyo’s “Sproutmen” fave…

I have NO idea what this is, but it looks “American”…

Then we have this…

What’s funny is, being I was the only person to order from the soup menu, all those banchan just shown were included in my set, including this here “mystery bowl”, all shiny chrome. Which of course had everyone intrigued what was in it. Nah, not really, as we all pretty much expected it to be this…

Speaking of chrome-finished silverware, I asked the owner if she had them Korean metal chopsticks and long-handled spoon on-hand, to which she was more than delighted to provide me with!…

Brah, I’m going “hardcore Korean” now, baby! lol!!!

OK, let’s try this here Soondoobu soup….

I can certainly confirm that Arirang uses Honda Tofu, as the delivery guy walked in while we were dining there. BUSTED! You’re supposed to use Aloha Tofu! Common’, they’re right down the street!

Seriously though, wow, I asked for “mild”, and if this is what their idea of “mild” is, I’d sure fear for someone’s tongue should they order “hot”. Dude, this thing was SCORCHING SPICY HOT! OMG, I was SWEATING! Not to exaggerate too much,  once my palate acclimated to it, it had this very smooth and savory undertone. Very, very nice. Delicious!

The best part was coming upon a variety of seafood faves in it, such as this “tiny” Tako (octopus)…

And clams…

There were also chunks of fish in it that tasted like either Monchong or Mahimahi, being certainly no cheap frozen stuff. Really, this was a top-notch Korean Kimchee style soup. While I’m no Soondubu expert, as far as I’m concerned, Arirang’s take on it should be respected.

As for everyone else’s dishes, they were very happy…

So happy, everyone polished their plate, side dish and bowls…

Summing it up, Arirang consistently delivers excellent, high quality, very authentic Korean cuisine, at very reasonable prices, with a clean and comfortable ambiance, being up there as one of my favorite Korean restaurants on the island. Highly recommended!

Arirang Bar-B-Q Korean Cuisine
1111 Dillingham Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii 96817

Tel. (808) 848-0803

The Tasty Island rating:

(4) Excellent. Worth another visit or purchase. (Winnahz!)

Related links:
Kalihi Eats” Arirang Bar-B-Q Korean Cuisine – The Tasty Island
Grindz of the Day: Arirang – The Tasty Island
Arirang Bar-B-Q – Yelp user reviews

P.S. Here I am at the beach today (11.10.12), weighing in at 174.7 lbs…

Damned. I better use some sunscreen. Lookin’ like a lobster. lol


18 thoughts on “Birthday Lunch at Arirang

  • November 11, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Whenever I see “Arirang”, I can’t help but “reminisce” about the infamous namesake bar at Kapiolani and Atkinson… but that Jap Chae Bok looked pretty good. What was the green leafy stuff in it?

    • November 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm


      Speaking of which, while not there anymore, the funniest KB name I remember always driving by (not going to!) across Ala Moana Center was called “Club Don’t Tell Your Mama”. The next would be “Club Ugly”. Seriously, those were actual names of those bars! Who comes up with that? And KBs (Korean Bars) always start with “Club”. “Club Evergreen”. “Club Rose”. LOL!!!

      The green stuff in the Jap Chae Bok is as stated, Bok Choy.

  • November 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    The poll results thus far are in:

    Do you think Korean restaurants should standardize the spelling of dishes on their menu?

    • Yes 33.33% (3 votes)
    • No 0% (0 votes)
    • Fish Jun. Fish Jeong. Fish Joon. Fish Joun. Who cares? As long as it tastes good! 44.44% (4 votes)
    • This is an excellent question! 0% (0 votes)
    • This is a pathetic question. 11.11% (1 votes)
    • I’ve never eaten at a Korean restaurant. 0% (0 votes)
    • Other (I’ll elaborate in a comment) 11.11% (1 votes)
    Total Votes: 9

    I was actually hoping more of you would find this question completely pathetic. LOL!!!

  • November 12, 2012 at 6:22 am

    a serious answer (sorry) to a silly question.

    The reason for the various versions of English spelling of Korean words is the Korean government has not decided on a ‘standard’ for the English transcription. It would be nice if the English spelling actually matches their pronunciation, too since they have many words that sound so close… So confusing for a non-Korean speaker who wants to be respectful. Currently, there are 2 acceptable ‘standards’ but there is still discussion whether either are the best or some other system.

    Japanese have/had the ‘romaji’ standard but the new one is confusing. I prefer “shi” to “syi” for example since it is easier to read/sound out in English and sounds closer to their ‘alphabet’. Wish they wouldn’t mess with success …

    Really enjoy reading your blog: interesting topics, your take on things and sense of humor and I frequently learn something new to boot.

    • November 12, 2012 at 6:42 am


      I find the Korean language to sound sort of like a hybrid of Japanese and Chinese. It has the structured syllables of Japanese along with the breath-heavy inflection of Chinese.

      As far as spelling, what I find when watching the Korean dramas (my mom is a K-Drama ADDICT), is the way they spell their names in the subtitles is somewhat different than how it sounds when they speak it. Like in the drama series DON’T HESITATE, the main character’s name is spelled ‘Soo Hyun’, however they would pronounce her name “Hyu-shooh” (‘n’ silent), seemingly being backwards.

      I don’t recall seeing any subtitled Japanese TV shows where they spelled “shi” as “syi”, however, perhaps I just wasn’t looking for it. I’ll keep an eye out for it next time.

      I learn a lot doing research for what I write here. That said, along with what you said, glad to hear it’s as good for you as it is for me. LOL! :-)

    • November 12, 2012 at 11:21 am

      anon, interesting that you know that. My research shows the same thing, Korea did not standardize translation to English. Something done by China three times and by Japan a couple. This puts Korea in a distinct minority among modern languages. Arabs also have no standardized translation to the world’s foremost language of trade and diplomacy. Curious.

      • November 13, 2012 at 4:43 am

        Interesting where this conversation is heading. While China may have standardized translation to English, I’m probably being unfair by singling out Korean restaurants, as Chinese restaurants here are just as “guilty” of twisting their spelling AND/or complete naming of dishes that are otherwise mostly alike. Yet, surely regional and dialect variations are factors in this, especially for Chinese, having over 10 different dialects; the most common here in Hawaii from what I understand being Cantonese (correct me if I’m wrong on that). And with that many dialects, it’s bound to end up somewhere here being a “mixed language“. Compound that by simply a misunderstanding of English vowel usage (especially), and “Egg Fu Yong” easily turns into “Egg Foo Yung”. Not that it’s as big a deal as I’m making it. Ha!

        I’m still waiting to see “Ay Fuyong”, “Shee-Shau Shee”, “Duh Ay”, “Wai or Fai Lai” and “Ai Wa’ah” written on a Chinese restaurant menu. :-P

  • November 12, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    “…they would pronounce her name “Hyu-shooh” (‘n’ silent), seemingly being backwards.”

    I think in this case the “Hyu-shooh” is meant to sound like Hyu(n)-shi (sp?) which is the Korean equiv. of the Jpn. “san”? Correct me if that’s wrong. But another example is from “Noriko Goes to Seoul”. The main character’s name is Min-ha and pronounced “Min-(h)na” (soft “h”). However, Noriko insists on calling him, “Min HA”. Hilarious. Sometimes, the “na” is like “chan” in Jpn. Not sure which is the case in this instance. Anyway, off topic. LOL. Your mother is in good company. Amazing what you learn (or don’t, if it’s wrong) from watching! LOL

    Without an accepted English standard, we will have to live with the inconsistent spelling … sigh …

    • November 13, 2012 at 4:57 am

      anon, huge mahalo for the enlightening of the Korean language. To be honest, I don’t watch enough Korean TV shows to have picked up translations. Now that you mention honorifics, for example Hyun-shi being the equivalent to Japanese Hyun-san, now when I go back and watch the same program, the pronunciation makes total sense. Still, not all the time, as you pointed out with “Min-(h)na” turning into “Min HA”. That might be perhaps a derogatory way of calling that person out? I mean let’s be honest, you know how Korean tempers really flare up on these K-dramas! I also notice they cry a lot, including the men. Interesting.

      Also, as I’ve once commented on before, have you ever noticed not only on K-Dramas, but on travelogue TV shows, how much food Koreans STUFF in their mouth with each bite? It’s like they’re trying to finish their meal in what would take 5 minutes, 5 seconds. Where their mouth looks like it’s got a baseball stuffed in there. No wonder they need that spoon along with them slippery metal chopsticks! Seriously, try take notice next time you watch a Korean TV show. You’ll come back and say how right I am on that. Try watch!!! And I’m not teasing or anything like that, I just find their culture fascinating, as is ours!

  • November 13, 2012 at 5:32 am

    About the “mouthful” of food, I have noticed. And they talk with it FULL, too. chuckle.

    In the drama, Noriko was using the Japanese pronunciation v. Korean. Other than that, she does a credible job speaking Korean (she’s a popular Jdrama actor and learned Korean for this role). Min-na, could be “Min chan” (?) because he’s a young man and Noriko is an ajumma (“aunty”).

    Speaking of tempers, what about those uncalled for face slaps!? The one being slapped is not guilty of whatever accusation is made and they say nothing (?). Maybe I’m too Americanized? LOL.

    • November 13, 2012 at 5:38 am

      Regarding the honorifics, in general, while there are certainly many differences, there seems to be lots of similarities between Korean and Japanese culture as well, including the food. For better or worse, it’s also interesting to see the western influence on not only Japan and Korea, but throughout asia, especially with the new generation (post Gen-X).

      So true on the face slaps! And the “innocent slap-ee” will just stand there after taking a hard red one right across the cheek, looking back at the “slapper” with a stunned look on their face like “Did you just slap me?”, yet remain silent, making themselves look either submissive or “respectful”.

      Then you have the sneering “evil eye” stare. Enough to make a man cry. No wonder the men on them K-Dramas cry. It’s that “evil eye” stare! LOL!!!

  • November 14, 2012 at 2:48 am

    There a recipe of tofu skin chicharron. Instead of chicken skin and pork rind it vege style. It on Viet World Kitchen. I will try it also for snack.

    • November 14, 2012 at 6:24 am

      Aaron, I’d imagine “Tofu Skin Chicharron” would taste like a crispy and airy version of Aburaage (obviously). Still, that goes to show how versatile the venerable soybean is. Soy Sauce and Milk, Tofu and Okara, Natto… and now “Chicharron”? Coming soon to a home improvement center near you: soybean-based roofing and flooring substrates. LOL!

      Speaking of which, reminds me when I hit the grocery store after work today to keep an eye out for that ‘Coconut Aminos‘ shoyu substitute a reader mentioned here recently.

  • November 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    What, no egg in your Soondubu?

    • November 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      I didn’t bother asking for an egg, figuring that’s just the way they served it there. It would have been better with it though.

      I notice on the korean tv shows, they like to snack on boiled eggs a lot.

  • November 28, 2012 at 3:30 am

    Thanks for the pictures of the menu. I like the “beef shot ribs.” The tofu soup looks great but I wonder if the cook would be insulted if I asked for it without the kimchee inside …tofu with seafood in a spicy broth with hot rice sounds so good ….

    • November 30, 2012 at 5:48 am


      Comparing prices from my first review in 2010, Arirang’s menu went up on average about $1 across the board. Not bad and expected with rising fuel and food production costs over that time span taken into consideration.

      Shoots, aren’t plate lunches running on average about $8 now? That still pales in comparison to $4/gallon for gasoline (+-). Sorry, I’m having FJ Cruiser “frustrations”. LOL!!!


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