There is a New York City urban legend about a person who once sent a steak back in a restaurant because it wasn’t hot enough. Not prepared on the periphery of the requested doneness, or even cold, but rather presented below the typical mouth temperature in the high nineties.
Korean Barbecue, in addition to its many other merits, is one antidote to this type of . . . expectation.
The staff at Wonder Pig, which opened a few months ago in Sunnyside, does not leave you to, ahem, wonder about the heat or doneness of its many meats. They position the protein on the gently-domed grill at the center of each table, allow it to sizzle and give the signal when it’s reached peak ready-to-eat.
But first, you’ll take a seat in the sleek, sprawling, chrome, black and stone-hued space, where K-Pop videos play on copious flatscreens. Put your jackets, hats and whatever else fits in the hollow, backless seats opposite banquettes to minimize the smokey meat perfume that might eventually follow you out the door. After that, start ordering in threes. Wonder Pig is all you can eat for 100 minutes and runs $23 at lunch and $35 at dinner and on weekends. You can put in your first few picks right away and peruse the menu for however more. Even two rounds, especially when supplemented with sides like the springy, sticky cylinders of rice cakes, seems plenty for a party of four.
The thinly sliced beef brisket is one of the best selections from Wonder Pig’s 21 options. Ribbons of marbled red and solid white are wound into loops displayed across the grill’s hot top like a bouquet. They’re briefly left to brown before they’re ready to eat: Tender with some satisfying crisp edges on the bits closest to the heat. The thicker, marinated strips of bulgogi also turn out nice with a bit of tangy sweetness. And while the fire spicy chicken’s moniker should not be taken literally, it is a pleasant diversion from the red meat, should those in your party want one. There’s also a little offal, plenty of pork options and a few seafood items like chewy rings of squid on the menu.
A couple of glass-doored service refrigerators filled with a few makgeolli varieties, beer, more than half-a-dozen soju options and soft drinks are situated behind the host stand. One 350-ml bottle of perky Charm soju goes a long way for $12, as does the cloudy, mellow, effervescent-adjacent and much lower-ABV (5% vs. about 19) Kooksoondang 100 Billion Probiotics makgeolli. They’re both exceedingly easy to drink, just with different possible conclusions.
Wonder Pig’s roller rink-sized space, intrinsically-shareable menu and inherent fun makes it great for groups. I defy any carnivore to not be delighted gathered with friends around a sputtering grill with theoretically endless options to come, even if for but an hour and forty minutes. Unless they’re the sort to send things back. There’s just no pleasing some people.
The Vibe: Industrial-chic and convivial in a huge space with K-Pop playing on flatscreens.
The Food: All-you-can eat Korean barbecue for $23–$35 with a 100 minute time limit.
The Drinks: Very drinkable makgeolli and soju varieties, beer and soft drinks.
Time Out Tip: Tuck your outerwear in the hollow seats to minimize the lingering smoky meat perfume.
Wonder Pig is located at 37-08 Queens Boulevard and is open Monday-Thursday from 12pm to 10pm and Friday-Sunday from 12pm to 11pm.