Korean Charcoal BBQ is another local place Sime and I visit pretty regularly that I thought I had finally better blog about. We recently enjoyed lunch there again including some of our usual favorites.
I developed an appreciation for Korean food when I worked at a Japanese / Korean restaurant years ago. Also one of our friends live in Korea for years and had taken us to Korean Charcoal BBQ a number of times and just ordered for us. Their cuisine can be quite meaty and spicy, so not someone you might have every day but a nice treat.
The restaurant is decorated in Korean style with some traditional clothing and dolls dispayed and there is a TV in the corner showing Korean shows continually but on low volume (a concert by Psy, the guy who sings “Gang Nam Style” was on when we were there).
Each table has a BBQ plate space on it for those who choose to have Korean BBQ. This is a delicious option in which you choose plates of meat, seafood or vegetables and they bring out a bowl filled with hot (burning) charcoal and place in a purpose made hole in the middle of your table and cover with a BBQ grate (you can ask or a fresh grate if yours gets dirty). You then cook your food, wrap in lettuce with chilli and garlic or just eat it straight with dipping sauce and traditional accompaniments. One of the things I love about Korean cuisine is those accompaniments – Kim Chi (chilli pickled cabbage) is always offered and is usually provided with some Seaweed Salad, a Cabbage Salad and some Pasta Salad (which always puzzles us as it doesn’t seem very Asian but tastes good anyway).
We started with Kimchijon (or Kim Chi pancake $10), a thin omelette style pancake with Kim Chi and potato in it served with a tangy sesame dipping sauce. As usual this didn’t disappoint with a great blend of flavours and textures. Salty, slightly spicy, crunchy in places but soft with the dipping sauce.
I ordered my favorite – Dolsot Bibimbap ($15) – a blend of rice, beef mince, Korean accompaniments and a raw egg yolk served in a heated stone pot with chilli sauce on the side. The heated stone pot cooks the egg and makes the rice crispy which adds a nice textural dimension. Also it heats up the accompaniments as you stir them through which releases more flavour. I recommend adding Kim Chi (you can ask for more if you run out) and Korean Chilli to suit your spice tolerance. This dish is served with a soup which is a bit strange because it’s kind of like plain chicken stock with some spring onions; needless to say I don’t eat (drink?) this.
Sime ordered his fave too (yes we’re predictable but we know what we like), Yukgaejang ($15) a seafood based broth flavoured with Korean chilli and Kim Chi, with beef, rice noodles and some veggies (FYI the family that own the restaurant are from a seaside area in Korea so most of their soups and broths are made from a seafood base). This is a spicy, tasty dish that allows you to experience traditional Korean flavours. Yukgaejang is served with Galbi, pork spare ribs, but just the meat (no bones) cooked in a tasty soy based sauce.
The service is always polite at Korean Charcoal BBQ and inevitably you see Koreans dining there, a good sign that they are getting it right. Again, let me say that Korean cuisine is heavy on meat, spice, carbs and rice, so more of a treat than every day food but definitely worth trying. They also have lunch specials available, for the less adventurous you can order Chicken Teriyaki.
As I said at the start of this post, this is one of our local faves that we highly recommend. Give Korean food a try, particularly if you love chilli like we do!
Loo review: the loos are clean but in need of renovation, 6/10.