Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on October 17, 2023.
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Nak Won Garden closed temporarily in 2023 and re-opened in late September 2023.
As huge fans of Korean food, we have one rule whenever we order this cuisine from a restaurant or food truck- make it a feast. This rule works well as it brings back all the fond memories we had when indulging in all the food we tried when traveling around the country in 2019.
Our first visit to Nak Won Garden in Shadyside followed this mindset perfectly, and their rather large menu of Korean staples made this one easy to go a bit overboard.
We had no regrets.
Entrees Fit for a Feast at Nak Won Garden
As the menu at Nak Won Garden is quite large, we opted to order a bit from most of the major categories to get a nice cross-section of the menu (plus order all our favorites).
These included gun mandoo, kimchi pajun, ddukbokki, korean fried chicken wings, and pork bulgogi to name a few.
What is interesting about this one is that many of the appetizers like the mandoo and kimchi pajun have small and large orders, and it generally seemed like the large orders were big enough to feed a small family comfortably (or the two of us with massive leftovers).
The entrees, on the other hand, only come in one size- large. These are almost platter sized and our pork bulgogi came with rice, lettuce wraps, and a small amount of banchan sides for good measure. Much like the appetizers, just one fed us comfortably with leftovers. But as they only come in one size with a bit of a price to match, we found ourselves gravitating to more of the appetizers to round out the meal instead of purchasing two entrees. (Don't worry, the Galbi is on our radar for next time).
So, how about the food?
For most of the appetizers, they were solid iterations of their respective styles. The large order of kimchi pajun was thicker than average and had a nice kick from the kimchi without being too overpowering, the mandu can come fried or steamed and had ample amounts of ground pork, and the ddukbokki was slightly spicy with a strong tomato base to go with the incredibly chewy rice cakes and vegetables.
The fried chicken is always an interesting one to get from a Korean restaurant as it can run the range in style from dry rub to featuring an array of sauces. The spicy Korean wings were smothered in a gochugaru-based sauce that was both sweet and spicy with a heat that builds up and had a nice crunchy skin (although admittedly probably was a bit softer from our ~20-minute drive home).
As far as Korean fried chicken is concerned, that checks all the boxes for us.
The spicy pork bulgogi was a solid iteration of the dish. It had a nice bit of heat, a tangy sauce, and ample amounts of pork all around. In being served a main with lettuce and rice on the side, you can make little lettuce wraps plus adding some banchan and the included soybean paste to try out different flavor combinations in every bite.
This reminded us a lot of what we would do at Korean barbecue restaurants and is a nice touch we certainly appreciated.
Overall, we weren't really surprised that our order at Nak Won Garden ended up being a feast (we do that by design, after all), but if you were not aware of this going in you very well will end up with an impressive amount of food- so be prepared for some leftovers all the same.
When it comes to Korean food, we'll take as much leftover as we can get.
Nak Won Garden is located at 5504 Centre Avenue in Shadyside.