Literally meaning “Korean BBQ”, Kogiya is one of Annandale’s newest spots for Korean buffet. Located just across the street from Annandale’s old favorite, Honey Pig, Kogiya opened a few months ago on March 14th, and sets up a “bibimbap bar” for lunch, and all-you-can-eat korean bbq for dinner.
I stopped by for dinner with a few friends on a Wednesday night. It was the second time I had Korean bbq in the last week, but two of my friends were raving about it, so I had to check out what the buzz was about. Similar to my latest obsession with Fairfax’s new all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant, The Hot Spot–Kogiya offers unlimited meats, vegetables, sauces and sides in a way where you don’t have to get up for anything. Unlike most other Korean BBQ buffets, you don’t have to dig into slimy metal trays with warm tongs, dotted with fingerprints from its last user. At Kogiya–everything comes to you. Just order it off the colorful blackboard of daily meat and stir-fry listed on the back wall.
|1) It’s All-You-Can-Eat
But there’s no need to get up. Everything, from all your favorite banchan plates (kimchi, namul, potato salad, pickled radish and more), sauces (sesame oil and salt, and two tangy house sauces) and meat are brought to you. Each meat you order is brought on a saparate clean, new grill pan. You just have to finish the pan before you order the next (like you would a 5-course meal).
|2) With 6 unlimited meats to choose from
It’s not just bulgogi, galbi and chicken. They also have miso-marinated pork belly, rib eye, fatty brisket, spicy chicken stir fry (which comes in a wok to heat over the fire), and offal! Small intestines, ox large intestines, beef abomasums (tripe), prok ribs, squid and baby octopus. Option A (for the conservative meat lover) is $18.99, while option B (for the offal afficionado) is $27.99.
|3) Need more napkins?
There’s a pull-out compartment at each table where you’ll find a stack of napkins, soup spoons and metal chopsticks. They didn’t bring all that food out just to tease you.
|4) Endless banchan and sauces
These cold Korean small plates serve as appetizers before the main course. You’ll find plates of kimchi, marinated bean sprouts, savory seaweed, pickled radish, potato salad and a tray of chopped peppers, pepper paste and garlic to mix with your three sauces: sesame oil and salt, and two sweet and salty house sauces.
|5) Grill it yourselves
You know those Korean BBQ buffets where they take the tongs with them? You may have cringed a few times they forgot about your meat and flipped it over, charred to a crisp. No worries. They leave the tongs here for you to cook yourselves, though they circle back around to help you cook everything properly.
| 6) Bibimbap
Literally meaning “mixed rice”, bibimbap is served in a hot clay pot with sauteed meats, vegetables and an egg on top. The bibimbap lunch special allows you to choose from barley or multigrain rice, your vegetable toppings and sauce for $6.99. Their other lunch combo, galbi (short ribs) plus buckwheat noodles in beef broth, or spicy sauce is $9.99 per person.
|7) Crispy fried rice cakes
This was my favorite dish of the night. These crispy fried rice cakes (teekim dduck boki), lady-finger-sized tubes of soft, chewy rice are deep fried with a crunchy skin on the outside. Dunked in a sweet-spicy sauce with sauteed veggies, you should pace yourself with this appetizer, as it’s both addicting and filling.
|8) Free steamed eggs!
I love savory steamed eggs (like Japanese chawanmushi), and every buffet order is served with “The Works.” This means unlimited banchan, rice, a pot of steamed eggs, and soy bean or red pepper soup.
| 9) Free hot tofu soup!
Part of “The Works” that comes with every order of shared grilled meats–you can choose from either soy bean or red pepper soup as an appetizer to your meal.
|10) Charred veggies
Massive mushrooms, thick-cut onions and sliced squash grilled to a char in their seasoned pans are a few veggies I’d expend a small corner of my tummy space on.
|11) Long swinging ventilation tubes
Like long, metal versions of those monsters from Tremors, you’ll see these swinging above each table hovering above grill pans to ventilate smoke and steam (so we don’t leave smelling like meat for days).
|12) Complimentary dessert
The cherry on top to dinner at Kogiya is the complimentary cups of iced coffee and sliced oranges for dessert.
Kogiya: 4220-A Annandale Road, Annandale, VA; (703) 942-6995; www.kogiya.com.