So Gong Dong – Spiciest Dish in Columbus Series
Thin slices of spicy pork? We’re in.
This week we got delivery from So Gong Dong, a Tofu & Korean BBQ restaurant, hidden away by the Hayden Run License Bureau and Terry’s Dogroom over on Hayden Rd, just past the Bethel and Sawmill intersection. With locations in 5 states, the Hayden Run location is the only location in Ohio. Boasting a few spicy dishes, we decided to give it a shot and see what So Gong Dong had to offer.
While a bit blurry, the above shows off the Lady of the Farm’s Bibimbap, with steamed rice, seasoned vegetables, beef and an egg on top. It doesn’t hold up as well as it would when eaten in the restaurant, so don’t judge it too harshly.
As we’ve mentioned before, one of the best parts of Korean BBQ is the sides. So many tiny side dishes. Above you can see some kimchi, jalapeños in oil, tofu skin, spicy cucumber, and (maybe) water chestnuts. The red sauce was some smooth, slightly spicy concoction that could have been ssamjang or gochujang, but unknown at this point. Of the sides, the kimchi packed the best heat, along with it’s wonderful probiotic properties. We were discussing and the tofu at Korean BBQ is really one of the only ways we enjoy tofu, and So Gong Dong was no exception.
Diving into the Spicy Pork Bulgogi, looks alone do not give much of an indicator of spice. It’s an oily bowl of meat and onions that glares back at you as if it had better things to do and you’re interrupting its evening. Inspecting more closely, the chili oil is definitely something you want to get mixed in with the rest of the meat. Take note because that right there is what we call a Pro Spicy Move.
Once mixed thoroughly with the spicy oil and some rice, I dove in. The flavors for the bulgogi itself are solid and the thin slices of pork are tender and easy to chew through, but the “spicy” in the “spicy pork bulgogi” isn’t really there. It’s best described as a grumpy heat. It disapprovingly sits back while you enjoy the meat and ingredients and then almost reluctantly swings by at the end, like “fiiiiiiine, I guess I’ll do my job.”
Each new bite lowers the low heat back down, but as soon as you sit on it, the heat pops back in, low and slow. No sniffles, no sweat, just me and my meat bowl. If this is the “extra spicy” Spicy Pork Bulgogi, I get it, but our idea of “extra” and “spicy” is “extra” different. Thinking about other Korean BBQ spicy dishes, the Spicy Chicken Stir Fry from GOGi still stands as the mark of spicy excellence, and the Spicy Pork Bulgogi doesn’t come close. Hoping to drag some spiciness out of this dish I threw some of the kimchi on. Moderate success and more immediate spiciness than from the bowl itself, but with a smaller dish of the kimchi, it didn’t last long.
The Lady of the Farm tried it as well and no reaction. No rushing for the fridge, no flailing her hands, just a “hmm, pork’s good though” as she wandered away.
Reviewing the menu again, it’s possible that there are hidden spicy gems on here like the Soon Dubu Jjigae or the Kimchi Fried Rice, but the Spicy Pork Bulgogi lands at #64 on our list, just ahead of Chile Verde and right after Beer Barrel Pizza and Grill Nuclear Hot Sauce Wings.
You can find So Gong Dong at 2950 Hayden Rd, Columbus, OH 43235.
Look below for more in our spiciest dish in Columbus series and hit us up if you have any suggestions that are not already on our list!
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