Braised Ribs & Pork at Pyeong An Dong – NJ
I could say it’s the weather, but I normally crave hot, spicy braised stews regardless of the temperature or season. One of my Korean favs is gamjatang (감자탕; pork bone stew), so with my birthday coming ’round, the fam and I decided to hit Pyeong An Dong in Fort Lee, a newish Korean restaurant specializing in braised meats and stews.
According to the waitress, the must order was galbijjim (갈비찜, braised short ribs; $45.95/serves 2-3 people; pictured top left), so we obliged. The galbi initially comes on the bone already cooked on top of a portable gas stove. The waitress then removes the bones and cuts up the meat for easier eating. The meat was super tender and well-seasoned, salty and sweet. However, the portion was on the small side, so keep that in mind.
When we were done, the burner seemed to be lingering on the table forever, so when I finally asked her to take it away, she let us know they could make fried rice for us with the sauce remnants if we wanted for an extra $5.95. Of course, we couldn’t say no. Fried rice was tasty, albeit slightly burnt as we were waiting for some nurungji (crispy rice, 누룽지) to form. It never happened. C’est la vie.
My favorite was the gamjatang jungol (감자탕 전골, pork bone hot pot; $32.95/serves 2-3 people; pictured top right). Gamjatang has to be cooked for a really long time for the meat to get fall-off-the-bone tender and for the broth to reduce down to a thick, spicy, salty stew, and this was just that. Delicious. My only complaint was that there weren’t any potatoes in the dish which I normally love as much as the meat. Perhaps the taters had been cooked down to oblivion? Regardless, I would still highly recommend the gamjatang.
When ordering any of the hot pots, you can also add a mini mul naengmyun (물 냉면, cold noodle soup) for $5.95. The noodles weren’t Pyongyang-style to the disappointment of my mom, but were the more chewy starch noodles made with dongchimi (동치미, water radish kimchi). It was still very tasty, and the noodles were perfectly chewy, and the portion was very generous for a side item.
I wanted some fish, so we also ordered byunguh jjorim (병어조림, spicy braised pomfret; $18.95). If you don’t mind seeing a fish head gazing up at you while you eat, and you don’t mind picking out a million tiny bones, this is also a good choice. The fish was soft and oily, and the sauce was spicy with just enough sweetness. I also liked that the jjorim came with cooked down radish AND potatoes. Again, I love potatoes.
I saw a bunch of annoying reviews on Yelp bashing the restaurant for portion size and the lack of items on the menu, which goes to show you, you can’t always trust Yelp. The galbi jjim was indeed on the smaller size, but everything else was pretty reasonable. As for the lack of variety on the menu, that’s ridiculous as Pyeong An Dong is a specialty restaurant and not a generic Korean restaurant. I rather have a few really good items on the menu than several mediocre items. In terms of service, the restaurant does run leaner than it should during prime times, and it definitely could be improved, but I don’t mind as much as the food was so good. At the end of day, go for the food and be done with it.
Visit Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Pro Tip: Opt for the fried rice after finishing the galbi jjim, and order the gamjatang jungol. If you’re still hungry, don’t forget the mul naengmyun add-on. It’s a good size and worth it.