By now, we are well-aware of my son's love for Korean BBQ. The fact he loves any type of food other than burgers or mac n' cheese is a major achievement! On the other hand, my daughter loves practically everything. So when it came to my daughter's birthday, we were expecting something different and exciting. We weren't sure if she was convinced by my son or not, but her preference for food on her birthday was... you guessed it, Korean BBQ. Well, I guess that was fine because I would rip my hair out if we had to go to Red Robin or White Spot again (not that they are bad though).
We ended up heading to one of our old stand-bys when we lived in Downtown - Seoul House Royal Korean BBQ. Trying to keep things simple (or complex), we ordered the Chosun Combination (for 5). They started us off with a Pumpkin Porridge that was pretty darn sweet. It was starchy and thick eating more like a dessert than an appie. They were really nice and offered us an extra one since we had 6 people, but really, no one wanted more (my son didn't even want to go near it). Continuing on the sweet train, we were presented next with a mesclun Green Salad with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Greens were pretty fresh and vibrant, but the plethora of sweet dressing made it sloppy.
Uncharacteristically dry and only lightly greasy, the Seafood Pancake featured plenty of green onion with strands of imitation crab and bits of other seafood. Due to the lack of grease, the pancake itself was mealy and excessively crunchy on the outside. It did taste okay, especially dipped into the accompanying sauce. Equally dry, the Japchae was predictably chewy and lacking in flavour. We appreciated that fact it wasn't too saucy or oily, but then again, there was very little in the way of moisture. Furthermore, the lack of beef made the dish empty without any body or depth. Since it was not served particularly hot, the dish resembled a cold noodle salad.
There wasn't any issue regarding flavour with the Goon Mandu (Sweet & Sour Deep Fried Pork Dumplings) as there was an obscene amount of sauce on top. The result was a very sweet and slightly spicy hit to each of the dumplings. Crunchy and fried nicely, the dumplings themselves featured moist and meaty ground pork with some peppery notes. As for the Silk Samgyeopsal (Pork Belly), it was soft with only a minimal amount of fat which meant each piece was more meaty than melt-in-our-mouths tender. There was a rich braised flavour to it that was a good balance of sweet and savoury.
Onto the Tangpyungchae (Mung Bean Jelly with veggies), it was a fairly mild tasting dish except for the aroma of sesame oil. The slippery "noodles" were appealing in terms of texture while the veggies added some crunch. Of course we couldn't forget about the selection of Banchan which included stewed potatoes, kimchi, broccoli, sprouts and lettuce. Of note, the potatoes were not overly sweet, but completely underdone being crunchy. I thought the sprouts could've been more aggressively seasoned. The best of the bunch was the kimchi with a good amount of crunch accented by spice with background sweetness and pungency.
Bubbling hot, the Haemul Sundubu (Spicy Seafood Tofu Soup) hit the spot for a cold night. It was spicy while balanced in flavour. There was plenty of silky tofu accompanied by a runny egg yolk and a bevy of small pieces of seafood (that were rather chewy and hard to find). If this wasn't enough food (with the meat still to come), we added the Kkanpoongki (Sweet and Spicy Deep Fried Chicken) for good measure. Overall, it was "okay". The crispy pieces of chicken were still somewhat moist while the sauce did not reach every piece. It was more sweet than spicy though.
Onto the main event, we were presented with a really larger platter of meat consisting of Spicy Pork, Beef, Chicken, Beef Short Ribs, Marinated Prime Rib, Mussels, Shrimp and Squid. The highlight was definitely the prime rib as they were buttery soft and well-seasoned. It was so soft and tender, there was little effort to chew them. Surprisingly, the spicy pork was not spicy at all. We had to dip it into the sauce for flavour. As for the other items, they were pretty typical and nothing was particularly amiss. All-in-all, our meal was pleasant while not offering up anything particularly memorable (except for the bits of prime rib). Service was hit and miss though as some servers were friendly and attentive while others didn't have the time of day.
- Decent eats
- Large restaurant with plenty of tables
- Meats were relatively good quality
- Not cheap
- Service was hit and miss