The sounds of sputtering grill tops, clattering utensils, and lively conversation fill the dining room at Honey Pig Restaurant, earning it praise from the Washington Post in 2010 as "one of the most entertaining barbecues around." The menu brims with both familiar and adventurous meats, including pork belly, beef ribs, and pork neck. Diners soak in Korean culture via both the food and K-pop, selecting a protein-rich spread and watching as the servers sear their orders on solar-heated tableside grills.
Born and raised in Seoul, Yesoon Lee grew up learning how to cook traditional Korean comfort foods. Today, she continues to embrace the recipes and the flavors of her homeland by recreating those dishes at Mandu: the restaurant she opened with her children, Jean and Danny. With locations in Dupont Circle and the Mount Vernon Triangle, Mandu also tempts patrons with an inviting charm that led The Washington Post to claim that the eatery, “knows how to make a diner feel good.” In addition to steaming or pan-frying the dumplings— or mandu—that inspired the restaurant’s name, Chef Lee and her team forge a variety of iconic Korean dishes. Barbecued beef short ribs and stir-fried potato noodles appear alongside classics like bibim bap. The mixed meat, veggie, and egg dish is served in a hot stone bowl, which helps to heat the rice from the bottom and explains why all of Mandu's tables look so relaxed. And although each location features a small selection of wines by the bottle or glass, they pair meals with a handful of Korean beers as well as soju—Korea’s most famous distilled spirit.
John Saki opened Louisiana Restaurant to bring authentic Creole flavors from the bayou to the Baltimore area. The gracious interior, with appointments crafted almost exclusively by Fells Point craftsmen, creates an ideal atmosphere in which to enjoy the eatery’s menu of French cuisine with a Southern twist. The menu’s three courses highlight traditional down-home dishes, such as parmesan crayfish and Louisiana crab bisque. Entrees include Creole-mustard and pecan-encrusted catfish, as well as lobster hash and grilled quail with andouille-roquefort corn bread.
The elegant dining rooms, which John himself designed, also showcase eclectic pieces salvaged from local historic sites, such as the staircase from the old Inner Harbor Power Plant and pink-marble walls from the defunct Saks Fifth Avenue. John and his family actually opened Louisiana Restaurant on Valentine’s Day more than 10 years ago, making it a poetic destination to celebrate a romantic evening or a birthday; the restaurant was also recently voted one of Baltimore's most romantic restaurants by Yelp users. The restaurant’s ballroom also accommodates up to 150 guests, charming them with an atmosphere that provides the comfort of a Southern mansion without the discomfort of a Colonel Sanders costume.
Formerly known as Honey Pig Dumpling, Honey Pig Chicken now broadens its menu beyond steamed bundles of flavor. Even when she isn't present, the pink cheeks and puckered lips of co-owner Mickey Kim still watch over Honey Pig Chicken. Depicted as a warm, friendly cartoon, Kim looks out from a banner that hangs over the counter inside the Catonsville Lotte Plaza's Asian grocery store. That playful personality is reflected in Honey Chicken's aesthetics as well as its menu, which encompasses seven sweet-bun dumplings: beef bulgogi, pork, mixed vegetables, curry with potatoes, shrimp, chicken, and kimchi with ground beef. Newer dishes include spicy Korean-style fried chicken or pork and ddukbokki—a traditional plate consisting of fish and spicy rice cakes.
Woomi Garden's expansive menu teems with authentic Korean barbecue, fresh entrées, and schools of sushi. Lunchtime combinations serve up an assortment of fresh sushi served with miso soup ($9.95), or spoon out yook gae jang, whose shredded beef and spicy broth grant both satisfaction and the ability to start a fire with a mere whisper ($8.95). Diners can kick off dinners with an appetizing appetizer of lightly battered and fried soft-shell crab ($8.95) before diving into hearty entrées, such as broiled chicken teriyaki doused in flavorful sauce ($15.95). The popular bulgogi, a dish of marinated, tender beef rib eye, arrives sliced thin for an easier slide down fun-loving fork tines ($19.95). A variety of special sushi rolls, such as the Rock 'n' Roll, warm the cockles of the belly, snuggling a mouthwatering medley of fresh salmon, eel, flying-fish roe, crab, avocado, cucumber, and lettuce ($11.95). Once organic furnaces have been fully fueled, cool off overheated mouth-grates with sips from a sake martini ($5.50) or a glass of wine ($4.85).
Norito Hwaro offers a duo of decadent dining, with patrons having the choice between Norito or Hwaro seating upon their arrival to the restaurant. Flip a coin, or emulate the atom-splitting work of Ernest Walton and John Cockcroft and split up your party, and delve into Norito's Japanese menu or Hwaro's Korean menu. Highlights of Norito's nourishment include the edamame ($5)—steamed soybeans—or a traditional Nabeyaki udon bowl ($12) brimming with thick noodles, seafood, and organic veggies, and numerous sushi and sashimi options ($13–$50). All are capable of whisking palates away to the land of the rising tongue.