- Alex Springer
While I was checking out Red Maple a few weeks ago, I couldn't help but notice that the block of 4700 South just off of 3200 West was hiding a pocket of amazing Asian restaurants—once you wade through a vast number of credit unions, that is. In addition to Red Maple, you'll find another location of the Vietnamese favorite Oh Mai—one of my Utah hall-of-famers—along with Yummy's Korean BBQ (2946 W. 4700 South, 801-769-6614, yummysutah.com), the proverbial new kid on the block. This Yummy's is the second iteration of a popular Korean barbecue joint in Orem (360 S. State Street), and there are plans for locations in St. George and Eagle Mountain, as well.
Based on my visit to the recently-opened West Valley location, it's a slight change of pace from the original—but there's nothing wrong with a bit of diversity. Where the first location offers a more traditional Korean barbecue experience, where diners can cook up their desired meats on a tableside grill, this cozy spot offers more of a fast-casual experience. The menu includes single- and double-protein dishes served with fluffy white rice and macaroni salad, along with some appetizers and soft drinks. I'm pretty sure this building was once a Training Table, so the interior dining area is a bit on the tiny side—all the more excuse to take advantage of the drive-thru window.
Any fan of Korean cuisine will recognize staples like bulgogi ($14), kalbi ($18) and kimchi ($3), all of which can be mixed and matched to create the combo meal that best defines you as a person. I went for the BBQ Mix Plate ($19), which comes with any two proteins on the menu. If you're absolutely starving, you can go for the BBQ 3 Meat Mix Plate ($21), which adds one more protein of your choice to the party. It's a tough decision to choose among such great options, but I ended up going with the Korean fried garlic chicken and the beef bulgogi; it sounded like a well-rounded trip into the Yummy's experience.
When my plate arrived, I couldn't help but notice how similar this presentation was to the ubiquitous Hawaiian barbecue joints that are opening all over the place—you can even get a Spam musubi ($2.75) chaser for your meal. The macaroni salad is a tad more garlicky than the variety served up by most Hawaiian places—not a bad thing at all—and the heaping portions of grilled and/or fried meats will certainly appeal to fans of places like Mo Bettah's.
I dug into the fried chicken first. Korean fried chicken is typically marked by an absurd level of crispiness, coupled with a generous slathering of a signature sweet, savory or spicy sauce, which is exactly what you get here. In this case, it's Yummy's signature garlic sauce, which makes excellent use of its titular ingredient. This is a garlic flavor that you feel in your bones, but it's also balanced enough to let the flavor of the expertly fried chicken come through. The chicken skin has crisped into a delightfully crunchy texture, and the chicken itself has remained tender and juicy throughout the process. I can see others going for the milder chicken katsu ($12), but if you're after an all-out assault of garlicky flavor, the fried chicken will happily oblige.
The bulgogi ended up being a good foil to the fried chicken, as its flavors are a bit more restrained. The thin strips of marinated beef are blessedly tender, and the sauteed veggies impart a bit of freshness to the plate. I have no complaints with the bulgogi, but it's definitely a supporting player to some of Yummy's more aggressive dishes.
During my visit, I also noticed the recent addition of a menu item known as the Korean Corn Dog ($4-$4.50). Despite ordering a good amount of food already, the siren song of a reinterpreted corn dog is one I simply cannot resist. The Korean Corn Dog can be stuffed with a traditional hot dog, some melty cheese or half and half. The fluffy, pancake-like exterior is coated with panko breadcrumbs and fried to crispy perfection before getting dusted with sugar and drizzled with ketchup. Essentially, this is what you get when you mix a doughnut with a corn dog—and I say that with the highest levels of praise. It's not going to be everyone's thing—cowards—but this is a snack that will forever be on my radar.
The Korean restaurant scene along the Wasatch Front is slowly evolving into a local culinary powerhouse. We've already got a stellar pedigree of Korean restaurants, and I think it's a safe bet to add Yummy's to the ever-growing list of reliably tasty Korean options. It is the only place I know of where you can get the Korean Corn Dog, however—so those other Korean joints better start watching their backs.