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skchai

Gina's Bar-B-Q

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Gina's Bar-B-Q

This is the first of a regular (at least it's supposed to become regular) series of restaurant descriptions and photos that I'll post to this forum. The next installment may be a while from now, though. I borrowed this digital camera and now I have to go out and buy one.

Gina's Bar-B-Q

Market City Shopping Center

2919 Kapiolani Blvd.

Honolulu 96826

Telephone: 735-7964

Fax: 739-0887

Web: http://www.ginasbbq.com/

Gina's has the one thing that all popular plate lunch places have - quantity, and a few extra touches as well.

As is by now traditional in local Korean fast food, you pick a meat entree and four 'sides, which are all piled together unceremoniously on a paper plate along with two or three ice cream-sized scoops of rice. But you get it on these big oversize oval plates, and the food is about falling off the edge.

The side dishes (panchan) are almost stereotypically Korean-Hawaiian: bean sprouts, seaweed salad, watercress salad, non-hot Western cabbage kim chi, hot Nappa cabbage kim chi, hot shredded daikon, mac salad, and taegu. However, the taegu (hot and sweet dried shredded codfish) is particularly bountiful - the thicker-than average twigs in a very sticky chili and malt syrup sauce. And, if you show up on Sunday, you get the killer - chicken and tofu stir fry as a side dish. And not a small amount either - a good half-pound. By the time you finish eating, your teeth are tired.

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Here's the Gina's Special ($7.25). Hiding underneath the big piece of kalbi (beef rib) held up by my daughter's fingers are one more piece of kalbi, two pieces of broiled chicken, and a pile of bulgogi (boneless beef). There's another two scoopfuls of rice behind there somewhere, too. Side dishes here are (clockwise from the rice) are: taegu, the famous chicken and tofu stirfry, seaweed salad, and bean sprout salad. The hobak jeon (pan-fried zucchini / aubergine slice) and deep fried mandu (potsticker) are I guess considered part of the entree.

The owner threw in a bowl of kim chi (hot pickled vegetable) as a fifth side dish, though this was after I took the picture. She insisted after my wife started talking to her in Korean - I guess she thought we would go into spasms if we ate Korean meal without being served kim chi.

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The lady behind the panchan bar kindly let me take this picture and even tried to make it appear "candid". Notice they sell their own kochujang (hot bean paste) to go.

The marinade for the kalbi and chicken is teriyakized - there's a good amount of sugar in it. Why do they do this to Korean food? said my wife - who has yet to understand the logic of syncretic cuisine. And, as if to compensate for the sugar, they don't stint on the garlic - you'll taste it for a while after it's gone. Other local favorites include meat jeon (pan-fried beef dipped in egg - something not nearly as common in Korea), fish jeon, chicken katsu (for the garlic haters), and spicy pork bulgogi. One unusual dish is spicy squid, a square slice that is cross-hatched, brushed with kochujang and broiled ($6.00). They have mini (13.99) and regular (27.99) family packs, as well as a full catering menu. They will even make you a meat or fish jun sandwich ($3.25) if you want.

The Market City Shopping Center is a small strip mall stuck in an island in the surrounded by the termini of three major streets (Kapiolani, King, and Kapahulu). It's hard not to pass by it, but difficult to notice it. If you're going there the first time you may think it's a Potemkim village - it looks like it has no entrance. Keep on looking - there's little driveway on the King street side, or you can sneak in through the back next to Kaimuki High School.


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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And of course, behind Gina's on the bottom side of Market City is Formaggio's (the wine bar) and Fujioka's (the store).

Good job skchai!

-Emily


----------------------------------------------

Emily in London

http://www.august18th2007.com

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Thanks, Emily! For those outside of Honolulu - both Fujioka's and Formaggio's are owned by the same person (Lyle Fujioka). The latter is modelled after an Italian enoteca.

Somehow the pictures for my post don't seem to be showing up! I'll have to check. . .


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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I tried their meat jun at a friend's party recently and it was really delicious (the chicken katsu and mandoo too). I would rank it up there with Soon's meatjun in the salt lake shopping center.

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Welcome to egullet, rlivings. Hope to hear more from you in the future.

For those not familiar with it, meat jun is a standard Korean-Hawaiian dish that is rarely found, at least in the same form, in Korea itself. It consists of thinly pounded pieces of beef (usually sirloin) dipped in an egg batter, and either shallow or deep fried. It is often served with a mixture of soy and tabasco-like sauce.

While jun (pan frying) is common in Korea and egg batters are often used, steak meat is very expensive and is rarely cooked in this way, being reserved for bulgogi or in some cases for "sanjeok" which is a high-class skewered dish. Fish is much more common in jun. Also, the level of oil used in the frying tends to be much less than in Hawai`i. Finally, Korean jun is usually served with "yangnyeomjang", a mixture of soy sauce, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes.

I'm not sure exactly how Hawai`i-style meat jun originated, though it seems to have arisen with the early Korean plate lunch places such as Ted's and Kim Chee (the latter still in business though on a somewhat reduced scale) about 20 years ago.

Glad you liked Gina's version - I'd be nice to do a side-by-side comparison between it, and the versions presented by Yummy's, Kim Chee, etc.!


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Rlivings, if you're reading this, could you comment on Soon's meatjun? I've never had a chance to try it myself.


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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hi skchai, the consistency of the batter at Soon's is different than other places. I think many places just beat the eggs and use that but at Soons they do something else to it to make it lighter I guess would be the word. I'm not sure if I'm describing it correctly but I've always liked it.

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Really neat. I won't feel jealous though, only because all of the local Korean joints near me have UNLIMITED panchan, and usually about 10-15 types.

Its pretty difficult to photograph Korean BBQ in my experience. Good job.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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looks GREAT, will try in a few weeks for sure.


"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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Really neat.  I won't feel jealous though, only because all of the local Korean joints near me have UNLIMITED panchan, and usually about 10-15 types. 

Its pretty difficult to photograph Korean BBQ in my experience.  Good job.

JHLurie, we also have those kind of more "authentic" Korean bulgogi / kalbi joints in Honolulu too. They are typically sit-down places with real plates and chopsticks - slightly more expensive, unlimited and greater array of panchan, and do-it-yourself table cooking. Gina's is a fast food place, and its offerings have been Hawaiianized to fit the plate lunch paradigm. The panchan are not unlimited, but it would take a pretty sturdy person to eat the whole thing anyway. So I guess it's a different genre . . .

Where are you located, JHLurie? Is it near one of the Korean enclaves like in Flushing or Fort Lee?

looks GREAT, will try in a few weeks for sure.

Please do, Sweet Willie - I'd like to know what your reaction is. Also, please tell us a little bit more about yourself. Are you a local resident, or are you travelling through the islands?


Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Please do, Sweet Willie - I'd like to know what your reaction is. Also, please tell us a little bit more about yourself. Are you a local resident, or are you travelling through the islands?

I'm not a resident, I love HI but would miss Fall & Winter too much. I'm one of those sick people that love our US Midwest weather, Chicago to be specific.

We will be visiting Honolulu, Molokai and the northern half of Kauai this upcoming trip and it will be our last trip to the islands for quite awhile as having been to all the islands by then we will be off to other destinations. We don't really go back repeatedly to the same locals as there is just too much to see and do in this world.

If anyone is in Honolulu on December 26th, perhaps you would like to join my wife and I at Gina's for lunch? email me to let me know.


"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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Hey, I ate there yesterday! They give me extra veg cause I don't order rice. I love the daikon kimchee. I have to go there at least once a month.

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thanks skchai for pointing this one out, food was great, so was the service, they put up with my many questions. :smile:

Wife and I met/had lunch with a local Korean woman who eats here once a week she said.


"I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be"

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