By Dylan Bailey
Our restaurant reviewer
Area 51 Korean Grill touts an impressive blurb on its website, stating that it’s the first and only all-day restaurant serving authentic Korean cuisine in Fernandina Beach, Florida. While its hours are impressive, does its food hold the same weight?
I decided to head down to the restaurant on a Monday and grab lunch. Parking was easy and as soon as I stepped inside I was greeted by an alien with green eyes, who showed off the current offerings and specials. An iconic and memorable way to greet guests. I loved it.
With a menu so tantalizing, it was difficult to choose what I’d try. It wasn’t long before I placed my order for the Korean fried chicken, Shake-A-Box bibimbap, and beef bulgogi. I snagged a table inside, and before I knew it the food was coming my way.
The Korean fried chicken (6 for $12) was the first to arrive and brought with it a wonderful aroma. These crunchy, Seoul-style wings were tossed in a sweet ‘n spicy sauce. Each bite had a satisfying crunch, and the stickiness of the sauce elevated the already tender meat of the wings. I was impressed with the quantity I got for the price.
Since I’d recently eaten at Wicked BAO, and tried their bulgogi, I was extremely curious to see how Area 51’s would compare. The beef bulgogi ($22) came out on a beautiful plate that was mountainous in its portion size. I balked at the price when I first went to order, but after seeing the amount, it was more palatable. Tender, thin slices of beef that had been marinated with slivers of onions and green peppers made my mouth water. It came with white rice on the side, and once I mixed the beef with a hearty serving of fluffy rice, it was the perfect, pillowy bite.
Last but not least was the Shake-A-Box bibimbap ($15), which came with rice, veggies, two pork dumplings, noodles, and a choice of bulgogi. For this, I went with the pork. Not only is the concept of this fun–you literally shake the food to combine it–but the price is a steal. The crunchiness of the veggies, which have a nice tang from the vinegar, coupled with the succulent pork is a match made in heaven. The noodles are soft and garnished with sesame seeds, and the two dumplings are ridiculously moist and flavorful. This was easily my favorite.
While Wicked BAO and Area 51 Korean Grill offer some of the same food, they both have distinct and unique styles. If you’re looking to dine on some Korean food before 4 p.m., Area 51 Korean Grill can satisfy that urge. I thoroughly enjoyed what I ate here, and am most certainly looking forward to coming back for another helping of the bibimbap.
Area 51 Korean Grill
Address: 510 S. Eighth St., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sundays 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays