After months of waiting for a new restaurant to inhabit the space of a string of previously unsuccessful restaurants, The Golden Pig finally opened its doors last week in Cary. The Golden Pig is a Korean restaurant owned and operated by Song Choe. Her menu offers many traditional Korean favorites with a few modernized ones, as well. Walking into the minimally decorated and clean space, The Golden Pig offers not only many tables to accommodate diners, but also a large bar area. The bar was closed when I went in for lunch, but the server informed me they would be opening it soon for their dinner service.
Service was quick without feeling rushed. After ordering, our server brought out many little dishes of “banchan” or “side dishes.” We had an array of different pickled and preserved items, which our server was helpful in pointing out. Our banchan included sautéed sesame spinach, kimchi, pickled daikon, pickled jalapeños and preserved fish cakes. These items were independently flavorful, but great when combined with rice alongside the Bul Go Gi and Bibimbap.
The appetizer we tried first were mandoo ($6.95) wrappers. They were delightfully crispy and slightly chewy; however, the filling lacked a considerable amount of flavor. The filling consisted of ground beef, mushrooms and bean thread noodles. Two sauces accompanied the mandoo. The first sauce of soy, chili, sesame & scallion was the needed addition to make this dish tasty. The sweet and sour-esque sauce was reminiscent of the standard “duck sauce” offered in many Asian takeout places and only overpowered the mandoo.
One of the most popular Korean dishes, Bul Go Gi ($16.95), is a must-have at The Golden Pig. This dish of tender ribeye beef tasted just sweet enough to counteract the soy and onion components. The sprinkle of sesame seeds on top added the perfect hint of nuttiness to round out the dish.
The Bibimbap ($9.95) left me unsatisfied. The presentation was beautiful and full of vibrant colors with the lettuce, pickled daikon, carrots and sesame spinach greens playing backdrop to a beautifully sunny side up egg. However, the ground meat and shitake mushrooms were quite bland and didn’t hold its own in comparison to the rest of the dish’s ingredients.
I asked our server to recommend one of her favorite dishes from the menu and she chose the Galbi Tang ($13.95). This was a soup filled with clear bean thread noodles, slices of daikon radish, green onions and slowly simmered beef short ribs. The short ribs were so unctuous and tender; I couldn’t help but want more. Although the soup was good on its own, I added in a touch of the gochujang (Korean hot chili paste) to spice it up and wasn’t disappointed.
It’s great to finally see a restaurant open and running in this Cary space. If The Golden Pig can keep up the consistency and momentum of their grand opening, they will have a home for years to come in Cary. Although they offer an overly extensive menu, I recommend sticking to the Bul Go Gi and Galbi Tang. These two dishes are solid takes on traditional favorites. Next time you’re in the mood for Korean food you may want to give The Golden Pig a try.
Tessa Nguyen is a chef and registered dietitian working in the Triangle area. She is an alumna of Johnson & Wales University and Meredith College. When Tessa isn’t traveling and discovering new food spots, she teaches culinary nutrition cooking classes at Duke and works as a consultant in the health and wellness industry. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @