Korean restaurant: Yakiniku Don-Day
The next time I fire up the backyard grill, I will think fondly of the cozy outdoor seating at restaurant Yakiniku Don-Day (in a parking lot, sure, but the Lite Brite lighting does wonders for the ambiance). I will miss the servers who look like members of a K-pop boy band, who really hustle to make sure your water is filled, your eight plates of banchan replenished, and somehow, in the midst of the two of them serving five tables, know exactly when to swoop in and turn your meat on the grill so that it has a beautiful, crispy char while remaining succulent.
I am used to cooking my own meat at yakiniku, but at Don-Day, I am happy to relinquish this task.
(What happens in the kitchen then? A team of older Korean ladies peel and slice mounds of garlic, rinse bucket loads of green leaf lettuce for wraps, and produce an excellent seafood pancake and pork and tofu stew.)
On the tabletop grill, the servers skillfully manage slices of marinated pork belly, like thick bacon studded with rosemary, thin slices of beef brisket, beef tongue, tender kalbi, and they even grill kimchi, giving it a roasted, concentrated flavor. "So good, so good," says a friend. I think it's actually the only thing he says all throughout dinner.
The servers maintain the perfect grill temperature, the key to great yakiniku as much as anything else, though a few tables down, we see a party leap out of their chairs as flames shoot up from their grill. We, however, survive dinner with eyebrows intact.
The added plus of outdoor yakiniku? No smoky smells in your hair and clothes after (at least for all of us except for the poor vegetarian at the table sitting downwind of the smoke. It's probably best if the vegetarians sit this one out).
Three combo menus with an assortment of meats from $49.95 to $99.95, feeding two to five people. A la carte meat orders also available from $19.95 for bulgolgi to $23.95 for pork belly.
905 Keeaumoku Street, Suite A (tucked away in the back, behind the other businesses), 951-1004