Athens, Ga. is a foodie's dream. There are restaurants on every corner with some of the absolute finest foods I have ever had the joy of eating. As a senior at the University of Georgia, I have made it my mission these past few years to delve into every restaurant Athens has to offer. One problem: every time I check a restaurant off of my list, a new restaurant pops up! I suppose this isn't the worst problem to have. New restaurants just mean new opportunities to find the most outrageous foods in Athens!
My latest conquest was the Iron Factory. The Iron Factory is Athens' first Korean BBQ joint. The restaurant opened on June 26 by the owners of Shokitini, a local sushi restaurant. I had pretty high expectations for The Iron Factory, but what I experienced was something I could have never predicted.
When I hear the word BBQ, I immediately picture a juicy pulled pork sandwich covered in sweet/tangy BBQ sauce seeping onto a warm white bun.
WRONG. I was in for a complete shock. The first thing I noticed when I walked in the restaurant were these large dome shaped objects placed on the center of each table. Were they large bowls of appetizers, maybe just a weirdly shaped table, or perhaps a small UFO? No, they were none of the above. Instead, they were dome-shaped table-top grills. Our food would be cooked right in front of us! It felt like a small-scale hibachi restaurant.
The menu consisted of a few main dishes including steak, shrimp, chicken, and pork marinated in a Korean soy sauce. We received unlimited kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish made with seasoned vegetables. We were also given lettuce wraps, radish wraps, pickled onions and a variety of sauces which we later used to create traditional Korean wraps.
I decided to order the Wine Pork Belly. I was immediately sold when the server described it as a tender meat with a similar taste to bacon. Our server reccomended wrapping the meat, kimchi, rice, onions and sauce all together for the greatest flavor.
What I tasted was a flavor that I have never experienced before. It was sweet and spicy all at the same time. I personally reccomend the white sauce (a mayonnaise/horseradish blend) to add the final flare to your wrap.
For those who have had Korean BBQ before, this cook-in-front-of-you/wrap concept seems ordinary, but for me, Iron Factory was quite the adventure! It's was a true cultural experience and I would certainly go back for round two. The Iron Factory is the whole package. With music on the patio, an excellent drink menu, and delicious foods cooked right in front of you, it is the perfect spot for a night out in Athens.
The Iron Factory is located at 255 Washington Street. Check out their Facebook page for more information: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Iron-Factory/