So when I see some Korean tramp-stamped along the bottom back of Trader Joe's Korean Style BBQ Sauce, pardon me if I'm a little apprehensive. It's probably something really nice. But if it could be translated as "Silly Foodie Hack Blogger, Are You Really Going To Review Me Even Though You Never Had Korean Barbecue?" It'd be what I deserve.
Because it's true.
Yes, I know. Shame on me. I know Korean barbecue is a thing. A very popular thing. Presumably, a very good thing. Unfortunately, it's not a very present thing here in the Pittsburgh area, far as I can tell. So pardon me that TJ's is my first foray into this particular area of cuisine.
Since I have only its own merits to judge it on, I'll start off by saying I generally like the sauce...but now I'm very interested in trying to compare to something a little more authentic. I'd think the particular blend of flavors could be a little better executed. Upfront there's a heavy soy sauce-y hit met with a fairly sweet dose of sugar. What kinda struck me is how similar, in some ways, that the taste mimics regular barbecue sauce once that soy gives way, but there's no tomatoes involved. Instead, it's gochujang sauce for the main body of the flavor. What's gochujang? I barely know myself, but looks like a blend of cayenne pepper, miso, vinegar, pear puree, and water. And more sugar, of course. The sauce has a fairly smooth body, aside from smallish pepper flakes here and there, with medium/average consistency.
Between the wife and I, we'll get the bottle finished without too much struggle, but we don't have a new favorite on our hands here, either. It'll do, and as stated, the TJ's sauce does make me eager to try out authentic Korean barbecue. For a tasty mealtime condiment and possible gateway sauce to a new food world, we're game.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Korean Style BBQ Sauce: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons.