Now this is what you call a Korean Feast!
There are many Korean Restaurants in Hawaii but, for someone like me who was born in Korea and have visited Korean several times, I find it difficult to find real authentic Korean food in Hawaii. There are many Korean restaurants that modify the dishes to make them more mainstream and palatable for Non-Koreans who may not be accustomed to the spice or seasonings used in Korean Cooking. I get it…after all, it is about being a profitable business and you create what your customers want.
I anticipated the opening of Budnamujip Restaurant as I saw it under construction for months while driving to work. I kept wondering what the heck is that big bright green building??? Well, they FINALLY opened up several months ago. As a Korean food lover, I’m always looking for new Korean places to try.
Many of my friends know I frequent many Korean restaurants and this one in particular, since they see my posts on Instagram and Facebook almost weekly that I’m eating here. I get asked A LOT “Is That Restaurant Any Good? What Do I Order? How Do I Order? I’ve replied with extensive emails, text messages and conversations on my suggestions, so to simplify it for me, I will give my opinion and suggestions on this post so folks can easily refer to this. AND Keep in mind, this is just MY opinion. Everyone has different tastes and expectations when dining out.
Their opening was a bit rough from what I had been hearing. One acquaintance was so annoyed about the parking situation on the first weekend they opened, he said he would never go back there again. I had my doubts as well. The first time I went I took a client. There were several menu items that were not available, they also charged for rice! What?!?!?! I have never been charged for rice in a Korean restaurant my entire life. In fact, second or third bowls of rice are offered complimentary. Another comment I still hear often is “I hear it’s too expensive? What does that mean, I think to myself? Expensive compared to what? You go to a Steakhouse or fine dining restaurant and you will easily spend $50-100 PER PERSON and you’re getting food that you can probably get at many places. Nothing really different or new. I agree this may not be a place you go to often, however there are also some dishes that are very reasonable too, like the Kalbi Tang and Beef Bone Marrow Soup. (You’ll see later in this post)
I have to credit the Management and Staff of this restaurant as it seems they have made adjustments according to the feedback they got. I can also tell customers are happy and going back often. For awhile after it’s opening, it seemed quite slow when I went to eat there but lately, every time I go there it’s packed! And by the way, they do not charge for rice anymore and portions seem to be a bit larger too.
At Budnamujip, you will get excellent service, very high quality meats, impeccably prepared Ban Chan (Korean Side Dishes) and a very unique cultural experience. Their chefs are all from Korea too. On another plus side, you will not have to cook your own Yakiniku as most Yakiniku places that just toss a platter of raw meat on your table and you never see them again. The servers here will cook each meat in specific order at the right temperature so you’re eating it just right.
With that said, my first meal and every meal there has been outstanding! Infact so was my second, third, fourth, fifth… EVERY visit! I was in heaven with every bite of incredibly tender flavorful meat and the delectable Sides!
We ordered the Yakiniku Combo that come with 4 different meats including Beef Tongue. If you’re not a fan, ask them to substitute it for another kind of meat. They will easily accommodate you. This meat is out of this world! It is hormone and antibiotic FREE. Marbling is amazing. Incredibly tender, melt in your mouth… mmmmmm
These are some of the best Ban Chan I’ve had in Hawaii. Eggplant with a seasoning of sliced Onions, Green Onions, Chili Pepper, Soy Sauce, and I’m sure some other special ingredients.
What looks like spicy Grilled Fish is actually grilled Burdock Root, perfectly seasoned and grilled to perfection that it’s light, savory and crispy.
This Ban Chan is Muk. It has a firm jello like texture and is seasoned delicately with Sesame Oil, sliced Seaweed and Green Onion
They also serve a Korean Salad with Greens, Green Onion in a Soy Sauce and Chili Pepper Dressing.
One of my favorite Ban Chan is this picked Turnip, Onion and Chili Pepper in a Spicy Soy and Vinegar Sauce.
Next is a Pumpkin Mash…very smooth and slightly sweet to offset the other spicy dishes.
This sliced Onion and Green Onion tastes like it is dressed with some sort of citrus and made to eat with the Grilled Meats. They go perfectly together.
Also for dipping the meat in is a Salt and Citrus Sauce .
Steamed Cabbage is served with Korean Miso Paste to make wraps with the Grilled Meat.
This refreshing Kimchee is Mul (Water) Kimchee with Cucumber, Green Onion and Turnip in a Vinegar, Chili Pepper Cold Soup. So refreshing!
This hot bowl of goodness is their House Soup, which is also served with the Yakiniku combo. It’s a simple Korean Miso Soup with Vegetables.
These are a couple special side dishes they served us. Don’t expect this but if you become a regular, they try to give you something extra. This is spicy Skatefish with Turnip. Hot and tasty!
Your decadent meal will end with Sliced honeydew melon and a Cold Plum tea to help digest. Desserts are usually not served in Korean Restaurants.
You will get ALL these dishes for about $80 for the Yakiniku Combo. Now considering all the time it takes to prepare each of these dishes is it really that expensive in comparison? It can easily feed 3 People and you will be STUFFED! I have a big appetite too.
Here are various spreads of my dinners and lunches here.
Now let’s get to some other dishes they serve here. It’s not just Yakiniku. You can get a very affordable hearty meal with dishes like Kalbi Tang. (Korean Kalbi Beef Broth) that is simmered so long that the meat just falls off the bone.
This is Spicy Beef Bone Marrow Soup…also extremely delicious and perfect on a chilly day or to cure a cold.
Here is the catch…with these other dishes you will get served different kinds of Ban Chan. A little more simple but still super delicious! You won’t all of these but will get about 4 of them.
If you’re not in the mood for Hot soups or Yakiniku, a couple other ideas for appetizers or dishes to order is this Soy Sauce Raw Crab. A little hard to eat as you literally have to bite the shells with your teeth and suck the raw crab meat out. With the big shell, put some hot rice in there and mix it up. My mouth waters just thinking about that.
A couple appetizer options is the mixed fritters and pancakes with dipping sauce. It come with fried mushroom, beef patty, zucchini and Korean Pancake.
This is Korean Pancake/Pizza dish with seafood and vegetables. See the video below to see how they cut it at your table with scissors!
As you can see with all these smiling happy faces, everyone I’ve taken to Budnamujip has loved the restaurant and left feeling very satisfied! If you haven’t tried it out yet, it definitely should go on your list of Restaurants to visit!