If the last time you were utterly baffled was when you assembled that 3,000-piece entertainment system from IKEA, swing by Porky and Porkie’s for a good ole, “What the heck am I supposed to do with this?,” while you cook your own food. Luckily the servers will be happy to help.
Located at the edge of Bella Vista in South Philadelphia, Porky and Porkie’s hot pink, bloated neon sign begs Philadelphians to come in and eat some meat.
For a piggy bank’s worth of pennies ($8.95 for lunch, $14.95 for dinner), locals can pork down on the authentic Korean BBQ-style, grill-it-yourself buffet, stocked with overwhelming heaps of raw, deliciously marinated meats, compliments of Chef Seug Ja Choi.
In its voluminous and steamy atmosphere, diners can enjoy the hiss and sizzle of their chosen meats as they cook on the table. Yes, the table. Each of the tables is equipped with a spacious, silver-lined grill and an exhaust pipe that hangs above to suck up any excess smoke. Once seated, customers get a pair of metal tongs and an assortment of Korean condiments, including shredded spiced carrots, sticky white rice, freshly seasoned seaweed, vinegar soaked and sweetened cucumbers, and a tongue tingling soy sauce for dipping.
The buffet offers two separate parts, one with vegetarian friendly food, and the other with its main attraction: the meat. Its most exciting vegetarian option is unfortunately its bland and chewy-like-a-Goodyear sushi.
For less adventurous non-meat eaters, there’s a small salad bar with a lonely assortment of veggies and some pineapple for dessert. But let the name Porky and Porkie’s remind us who this restaurant is really trying to impress: meat lovers. The second counter offers the restaurant’s perfectly seasoned, raw marinated meat including spicy slivers of squid, lightly sweetened chicken breast and rib-eye steak. The pork, which is spiced with a tangy sauce, lures its diners back for second and third helpings.
Cooking time is when the real confusion begins.
Luckily their servers are swift to save a panicked first-timer, who is oftentimes overwhelmed by the grill-it-yourself concept. They are happy to give clear instructions on how the food is supposed to be cooked and enjoyed. They’ll even tell you when your food’s undercooked because you’re the one doing the cooking.
They also offer a set menu giving diners the option to choose from several Hot Pots and specials like the Kimchi Jae Yook Bbokum (stir fried kimchi and pork in spicy sauce with tofu).
Many of the items on the high-priced menu appear in the buffet, making the buffet a much better deal.
Jillian Bauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.