Nocturnal Nights in the O.C.

Individuality is effective, but being in a collective group makes an experience much more enjoyable and memorable. The Honey Pig is just the place to indulge.

Located on Jeffrey Road, this Korean barbecue features a cook-your-own food grill. The prices are moderate for a group, but extremely expensive if you are dining alone. The prices range from $17 to $30. And although its not AYCE, the servings are  fairly large.

The menu is mostly composed of various meats ranging from prime pork bellies and marinated boneless short ribs. Customers are immediately served with a complimentary side dish, Korean kimchi, made from fermented vegetables.

When I first saw the menu, I was a bit shocked by the high prices. However, when the servings arrived on the grill, I realized that Honey Pig was designed for large groups.

Every table holds a circular Korean barbecue grill. Servers typically cook the meat, but customers are also free to cook it themselves.  All if not most of the tables can seat four people, but can be easily combined to accompany more.

The first thing I noticed when I entered the place was that every table hosted more than two customers. The smell of cooking meat worked my appetite. I also noticed that college students, several high school students and some older folks were the primary customers at the Korean barbecue.

Servers were extremely attentive and active throughout the night. They were either taking orders or cooking the meat for other customers on their table.

However, due to their small numbers, the servers may not get to your requests immediately. They may be preoccupied with cooking the meat or addressing concerns from other diners.

I noticed that the food arrived in less than five minutes, if not immediately. Service was extremely quick, but the cooking process was a bit tedious. Watching your grill heat up for five minutes before your meat could even begin to cook was a bit irritating, especially with the sight of other customers enjoying their food. If you select more than one order of meat, the servers wait until the first order is finished before serving the second.

When the grill is properly heated, the meat cooks almost instantly. If you ordered a second dish, the grill should be sufficiently heated to the point where the meat cooks itself. The most exciting part of cooking your own food is waiting for the precise moment when the meat is ready to satisfy your hunger.

I ordered the pork belly as my first meal and was not disappointed. The meat took some time to cook, but when it was ready I could not restrain myself from eating or slowing down.

My next order was the Angus rib eye steak. The meat melted in my mouth and I found myself finishing most of the order before any of my friends could get any from the grill.

The servers constantly recommend ordering the Angus beef short rib and the rib eye steak. However, if you have never had Korean barbecue, the pork belly should be a great starter entrée.

The restaurant comes alive on the weekends and closes at midnight. Since most customers are college students, the restaurant is quite lively until closing.

“It’s busy on the weekends,” said a server. “We don’t have big TVs but the entertainment comes from the tables themselves and the energy people bring.”

The music is relatively modern, but the sound of the restaurant is mostly filled with the conversations of friends and family.

For the majority of the night, I found myself conversing and enjoying the presence of my fellow colleagues without the distraction of technology. It was the first time I had a meaningful and fruitful conversation without constantly examining my phone for text messages or emails.

All students need some time for rest and digest, especially during midterms week. Some would prefer to sleep, but going out as a group provides a great escape from the endless nights of studying and stress. The conversations and company of friends help you decompress from the anxieties of student life.

If you are looking for a place to celebrate the end of your midterms and love Korean barbecue, Honey Pig is the place to visit.