Cheap + meat = Iron Age: Duluth, GA, USA
That’s just the first formula I would use to describe this small and hard-to-find carnivorous club gem. First to clarify, this is not the type of korean barbecue that involves marinated beef ribs (kalbi) but instead, this is your korean unmarinated pork belly (sam gyup sal) and beef brisket type of barbecue. This small restaurant is located in Duluth, GA and is about a 30-40 minute drive from downtown Atlanta. It can be hard to find as the title of the restaurant is mostly in korean: Iron Age is only visible in microscopic print. But it is located across the street from Gwinnett Mall and next to Sydney Buffet.
If you do not want to spend the money on pork belly at Honey Pig, I would highly recommend this place. Actually I would recommend this place over Honey Pig from the sheer fact that 1) it is cheap and 2) it is a meat buffet. For $15.99, you can get all the pork belly and beef brisket that you can eat. That’s a lot for the average person. To sum it up in a short bullet point list that is easy to follow:
- cheap, considering it is a buffet ($15.99). There are also different “types” of buffet that you can get there.
- 4 kinds of marinated pork belly: wine, garlic, spicy, regular
- rice noodle wraps (dduk bossam) : my all-time favorite thing to eat with korean barbecue (I just wish it wasn’t only with sam-gyup-sal and was with kalbi too)
- pickled radish wraps: it gives the un-marinated pork belly a bit more flavor
- 2-3 second waiter service: the best that I have yet to find in Atlanta. Definitely worth a 20% tip if not a little more.
- Free ice-cream on the way out (soft serve)
- Not being able to get seated unless your entire party is there: hope you don’t have any lolly-gagglers in your group because you will be waiting for a while.
- Running out of rice noodle wraps: it was getting towards the end of the night, and it was Saturday night. My guess is that they didn’t want us ordering more meat or that stuff can get expensive.
- kimchee bokum bap: towards the end they do some sort of bi bim bap (fried rice) on the grill. However, Iron Age doesn’t add as many condiments to the rice such as green onion, egg, and the beansprouts were meager in quantity. The flavor was pretty good, well seasoned and evenly spicy, but it would’ve been better if it has more sustenance other than just rice.
- Ban-chan (side dishes): were a bit on the meager end. Essentially everything was made for the grill such as the raw slices of garlic and jalapenos. Other things included pickled vegetables and a salad tossed with some sesame oil and hot pepper flakes. Most people ended up putting the salad into their meat wraps for “vegetables”.
- frozen meat: the meat comes out frozen. At least the beef brisket was. The unmarinated pork belly was frozen as well but not the marinated pork belly.
Tricks of the Trade:
- Buzzer: there is a small doorbell looking buzzer in each booth (and probably each table). To get warp-speed service, you really need to use this buzzer! Most of the Yelpers do not know about this and so have commented on how long it takes to get things.
- Ask (and you shall receive): you want to eat good, you have to go knowledgeable. Read ahead, ask friends, and do your homework. We had to ask the waiters for the pork-belly to be served. If we hadn’t, we would’ve been eating beef brisket all night long. Not to mention, you have to ask for the flavored types of pork-belly. Otherwise they will just bring you the plain ones. I highly recommend the spicy marinated pork-belly. Do not use complicated words like “marinated” – they are usually pretty smart and will figure out that you mean “flavored”.
- Be polite: I believe this is a standard rule for most restaurant goers. It is HARD WORK being a server, a hostess, a busboy, a waiter/waitress, and chef/manager. The restaurant business is hard period. So don’t take your attitude up a notch simply if you don’t get what you want right away or immediately to your liking. It is warranted if you actually see a waitress go to the back and take a break for 15 minutes or if you see them serve other people that get there later than you do.
- Keep your grill on high for large parties: the meat will not cook quickly enough if you’re starving at the beginning of the meal. I would turn it down later at the end to save on electricity/gas and be green but for the most part, if you have a large and hungry crowd, keep that dial cranked up!
It’s going to be difficult to give a summary on this since we ALL got the unlimited buffet so I would go ahead and use the bullet points up ahead. If you wanted to check out Iron Age yourself:Iron Age 2131 Pleasant Hill Rd
Duluth, GA 30096
*photo credit goes to: Jack Wang*