Iron Age

2131 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth

On a recent episode of "Mad Men," Don Draper takes a date to a Benihana Japanese steakhouse in New York City and asks her to school him in the proper use of chopsticks.

A long way from '60s Manhattan, the cultural confusions of a trip to Iron Age in Duluth are more like entering into the surreal realm of a Chan-wook Park film.

The Korean barbecue restaurant has become a favorite of young foodies, as much for the lively vibe as for the all you can scarf beef brisket and pork belly.

Big screen scene

Located in a strip center on Pleasant Hill Road, the interior is a stylish mix of ancient and contemporary art forms.

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The smoky haze wafting from the cast iron grill tables, suspended abstract sculptures, and giant screen beaming Korean pop videos make for an atmosphere that feels a bit like a speakeasy.

Quick-stepping servers dressed in military-style garb with Korean flag patches and pilot wings add another level of energy to the scene.


On a recent visit, it seemed everyone was going for the all you can eat barbecue beef and pork, though there are plenty of other items on the menu, including duck, pork ribs and beef intestines cut into calamari-like rings.

Ordering the beef brisket and pork belly combo means everyone at your table must opt in.

The brisket is thinly sliced and curled into a cone which makes it easy to pick up with tongs and slap on the grill. If the grill is hot, the beef only needs a quick sear on one side to cook.

The pork belly, basically thick slabs of bacon, may be ordered plain or marinated in wine or hot sauce. Servers use scissors to snip the slabs into pieces, which take a longer turn on the grill

Banchan and bibimbap

The barbecue comes with vegetable soup, rice cake wrappers, green leaf lettuce salad and slices of daikon radish, along with assorted banchan condiments, including spicy kimchee and several dipping sauces.

For more flavor and aroma, add some garlic cloves and sliced jalapeno peppers to the grill with the meat. And save a bit of pork to season the bibimbap, a spicy mixed rice with vegetables that's scooped onto the grill to cook toward the end of the meal. Ask your server to bring it when you're ready or it might be forgotten.

Drink on

For a taste of Korean drink, try a Hite lager beer or a Draft Makkoli, a fermented rice beverage that comes in a plastic bottle and is poured into a metal cup. It has a milky color, a touch of carbonation and mildly tart flavor somewhere between sake and beer.

Dining out

Iron Age

Address, phone: 2131 Pleasant Hill Road, 678-584-9098

Signature dish: Barbecue beef brisket and pork belly

Entree prices: $14.99, all you eat beef brisket and pork belly; entrees, $9.99-$15.99

Hours: 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 3 p.m.-midnight Sundays

Credit cards: Yes

Online: No website

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