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All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ coming to Merrifield from Centreville’s Meat Project

The Korean barbecue restaurant Meat Project is expanding from Centreville to Merrifield (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Centreville’s Meat Project is preparing to fire up a grill at Halstead Square in Merrifield.

The all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue restaurant is expanding for the first time to The Lofts apartment building at 2727 Merrilee Drive, where it has leased a 3,456-square-foot, ground-floor space, per a site plan from retail broker Rosenthal Properties.

Construction has begun on the new location, Meat Project owner Sam Kim says. The business is aiming to open in early December.

“We are an all-you-can-eat, Korean meat-focused place,” Kim told FFXnow. “There’s places that have a la carte, there’s places that have different Korean food, but for us, it’s more so that people can try different things when they just pay per person. It gives them the opportunity to try different things.”

The possibility of expansion wasn’t guaranteed for Meat Project, which opened at 5825 Trinity Parkway in Centreville in July 2020 — right as Virginia was easing restrictions imposed on businesses to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Kim and his mother, Grace, created the restaurant to expand their reach after gaining a foothold in Annandale as the longtime owners of Rainbow Food Catering and Manoa Bakery Cafe, Northern Virginia Magazine reported at the time.

Launching in the middle of the pandemic, pre-vaccinations, “was very hard for us,” Kim says, but after two rocky first years, the business has now settled down.

“Now, we’re getting more regulars. We’re getting more people in, so we felt like now is a good time to expand,” he said.

Located across the street from Lost Dog Cafe in the former Gama Chicken & BBQ space, Meat Project’s Merrifield restaurant is smaller in size than its standalone Centreville location, but the menu and bar will have more items, according to Kim.

In Centreville, the menu features a variety of beef, chicken, pork and seafood options, from staples of Korean barbecue like bulgolgi and galbi (short ribs) to more unusual items like honey butter octopus. The bar will serve “cocktail items and stuff like that,” Kim says.

The restaurant charges a flat $30 per person for all-you-can-eat meals, though kids shorter than 4-and-a-half feet can eat for $20 and kids under 3 feet are free.

Kim says the Merrifield location will likely follow the same operating hours, opening at noon every day and closing at 11 p.m. or midnight.

Korean barbecue options are limited in Merrifield, at least compared to Centreville. Right now, the closest restaurant to Meat Project’s upcoming site is Puzukan Tan in Yorktowne Plaza Shopping Center at 8114 Arlington Blvd.

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