A few hours after touching down from Los Angeles and visiting with relatives -- they aren't doing well, but glad they are doing better -- my father took me to a very cool place called Yakiniku Don Day, a Korean restaurant, on Keeaumoku Street with exclusively outdoor seating. He described eating at restaurants in Korea under tent-like coverings much like this.
My father picked out a dinner menu for two ($49), wondering if there would be enough food. Within a few minutes, banchan platters were brought out -- potatoes, egg custard (texture was not very fluffy), napa cabbage kimchi, bean sprout namul, cucumbers, and ogo (seaweed) -- a large bowl of salad, two amazing, large crisp mandu (deep fried half-moon dumplings filled with meat, green onions, garlic, and ginger), a larger platter of napa cabbage kimchi, and sundubu jjigae (seafood soup).
The table and a side table quickly filled up! There was no question that this was more than enough for three people.
Before the flame was lit to the grill, I wondered how people in Korea ate outdoors in winter. A few minutes after the flame was turned on, my question was answered.
I felt sated by the time one of the women placed slices of pork belly, beef tongue, beef brisket, onion, garlic, and kimchi on the grill. What a great aroma! As I've never had grilled kimchi, this was intriguing. It doesn't really affect the flavor just heats it up. Another ingredient that took me by surprise was the use of potatoes in the sudubu jjigae. Its addition thickened the soup and rounded the flavor of the gochujang (fermented chili paste).
Eating outdoors in the gentle Hawaiian breeze with my father was great. This is one of the best lettuce wraps I've had, piling meat, kimchi, banchan, garlic, smearing some doenjang (miso), then dipping into salted toasted sesame oil. My father enjoyed the food also. I miss the place already.
Yakiniku Don Day
905A Keeaumoku St
Honolulu, HI 96814
Tel: (808) 951-1004