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Findings & Conclusion - Best Meat Jun


What were the limitations?

One major limitation was that we had to get the meat juns to the tasting location in as fresh condition as possible...warm, crispy, moist.  This was difficult with some of the places like Dong Yang and Seoul Korean Bbq cause stay all the way out in Wahiawa.  As in past battles, this didn't seem to matter.  The meat juns with the longest transportation times placed in the top 4 (Dong Yang #2 and Seoul Korean Bbq #4).  While the places in town with the shortest transportation time Sam's Delicatessen and J's Bbq ranked near the bottom.  Maybe this tells us that one of the signs of a winnah meat jun is its endurance. This means that you can buy it take out, drive home with it, get home, use bathroom, wash hands, fix a drink, choose a good TV show to watch...then when you eat it, it's small kine cold, little bit soggy and it still tastes supa ono. In the end, our runners got the meat juns to the tasting location in a fair amount of time, so we didn't have to reheat any of em and this limitation may not have affected the results all that much.

Were the judges credible?
Yes, the judges were pretty much credible.  Even though our control entry didn't come out last last last place, it still came out second to last place with a score of 4.46 out of 10. This was close enough for us as we predicted that it would come out near the bottom when going head to head against some of the best meat juns out there.  For the most part, these judges could tell the difference between a spectacular meat jun and a so-so meat jun.

What about all the people that recommended their favorite meat jun?
  • First thing first. To our friend Jomori and all the other peeps who predicted Young's would win, SCARED OF YOU!  I guess you guys must have some highly evolved meat jun taste buds cause you picked the winnah and you did it without flinching.
  • The Honolulu Star Bulletin folks who mentioned Dong Yang's meat jun (ranked #2) as their specialty item, got some meat jun game going on.  Keep up the good work guys.  I guess Dong Yang being in business for 30-40 years is no fluke. 
  • Glen, who recommended Choi's Family Restaurant for their meat jun, knows his stuff when it comes to meat jun.  I'd be willing to bet that many of his other favorite grinds would place in the top 3 of our blind taste test.  KJ's fried chicken and George's Maki/Cone Sushi to name a few.
  • To all of the folks who grew up loving Soon's (ranked #6), we must have abnormal meat jun taste buds or maybe we still learning.  Although Soon's didn't rank too low, it still came out behind Yummy's which was a major upset for us Soon's fans.
  • Now I don't know what happened to Sam's Delicatessen (ranked #7).  Midweek named this place as one of the places that "Koreans go to eat Korean" so I thought was going do much better...especially because we had some Koreans as judges.  So what happened?  I don't know, you tell me.  Maybe Sam's just had an off day and we need to do a rematch. 

And what kind of insights emerged about our love for meat jun?
  • The batter...eggy or chewy.  It seems like we prefer the softer (but not too mushy) eggier type batter (Young's #1) over the crispy chewy batter (Soon's #6). Although our #2 meat jun from Dong Yang had batter that seemed to find a middle ground between eggy and chewy. Another batter factor was "too much flour like pancake" as one judge put it.  The judges picked up on the batters that were too dense and doughy.  I guess we might like a lighter batter that holds on to the dipping sauce just long enough to make the trip to the mouth.
  • The sauce is important, but not essential.  There were several comments of not needing sauce with some of the meat juns (i.e. Young's #1).  I guess if the meat is marinated and flavored well, it can stand on its own.  I always thought the sauce was inseparable from the meat jun, but I guess we might conclude from these results that some local folks enjoy going sauceless. I might have to experience this for myself.
  • Cooking technique matters.  Some meat juns lost points for their batter separating from the meat while others gained points for having a tight bond between meat and batter.  I not sure how this tight bond is created, but it seems not all meat juns are prepared with the same love and care as others. Maybe this is like how they say good sushi shouldn't fall apart when you pick em up...we might say we don't like meat jun that falls apart when you grab em.
  • Sauce can't be too sweet or too shoyu-ee.  In cases where the sauce does come in to play, we seem to like a perfect balance of salty and sweet.  The judge's made numerous comments about the sauce being "too sweet" or "too shouy-ee."  For us locals, balance seems to be the key.

What interesting things did our stats guy do with the scores?
Since we judged with three weighted criteria (taste=50%, texture=30%, presentation=20%), our stats guy showed us the rankings by criteria.  One significant thing is that, although Young's ranked #1 overall, it only ranked #1 in the presentation criterion.  While Dong Yang, who ranked #2 overall, had the highest average scores in the taste and texture criteria.  It seems that Dong Yang's so-so presentation is what allowed Young's to squeak by in to the #1 spot.


Rank by Taste


Rank by Texture

Rank by Presentation

Rank Location Average
Score

Location Average
Score

Location Average
Score
1
Dong Yang
7.5

Dong Yang
7.4

Young's Kal Bee
7.7
2 Young's Kal Bee 7.3
Young's Kal Bee 6.9
Choi's Family Rest. 6.9
3 Choi's Family Rest. 6.5
Choi's Family Rest. 6.4
Seoul Korean Bbq 5.5
4 Seoul Korean Bbq 5.8
Seoul Korean Bbq 6.0
Yummy's 5.5
5 Soon's 5.0
Yummy's 5.5
Dong Yang 5.0
6 Yummy's 5.0
Soon's 4.9
Soon's 4.9
7 Sam's Delicatessen 4.8
Sam's Delicatessen 4.8
Sam's Delicatessen 4.6
8 Marukai Bento 4.4
Marukai Bento 4.8
Marukai Bento 4.1
9 J's Bbq 3.4
J's Bbq 3.2
J's Bbq 3.9


In conclusion, maybe Young's Kal Bee won because it had "the best package" as one judge put it. Even though Young's didn't win in each criteria, it scored consistently high across the board.  The one factor they seemed to fall short on was their sauce, which didn't seem to stand out to the judges. But this never matter cause their meat was so well flavored it could stand up without the sauce.

Like we always say, we are making only our best guesses about what these results might tell us about our love of meat jun. We encourage you to go out and try for yourself and form your own opinions. If you get other insights or opinions, leave a comment.