So, this was the top rated Korean BBQ place B found online. Apparently, this restaurant serves high quality Korean beef and is well-known among the locals. When I am travelling, I always want to eat where the locals eat.
We entered through the side door, awkwardly passing by and making eye contact with the ajummas in the kitchen who pointed us towards the open area in the centre of the restaurant. There is a bench for people to sit and wait. We came right when they opened at 4:30pm for dinner and there was already a whole bunch of people sitting on the bench waiting.
You have to leave your shoes outside and your server will take you to your room.
The rooms are set up with low tables like that of traditional or homestyle Korean dining environment. You sit on the ground. The hole in the middle of the table is where they will put the grill and charcoal bucket as well.
You have to start with a minimum order of 2 servings, even if you’re alone. They ran out of unmarinted kalbi, so we ordered 2 servings of spicy kalbi (180g per serving). It’s a little odd for them to run out of food supplies right at the beginning of dinner. Now, I did see on Google that their operating hours are from 1130am-10pm, but I swear when we arrived at 4:30pm they just re-opened for dinner service. Hmm…maybe there has been a change and maybe if you go around noon, all menu items would be available?
There is quite a bit of side dishes – vegetables to go along with the BBQ meat, water kimchi, buckwheat noodles and condiments for meat.
Each room is under the care of one ajumma. She will help set up your hot plate, place and cut your meat for you as well. You can see the criss-cross cut on the kalbi, probably to facilitate the marination and ensure thorough cooking. The kalbi was good, but I didn’t taste the spiciness at all.
Our neighbouring table was a family of three. Half way through, the dad called on the ajumma to replace their grill. Thank god he did, because the ajumma then replaced our grill as well. It is always nice when you get your grill replaced to get rid of all that burnt char.
I also ordered some soybean paste stew. The stew was a bargain, 3,000 won for a big pot and it was very delicious!
I do have a small complaint. It was very nice of the ajumma to help us cook our meat. However, it felt like she was inpatient and unwilling to help us. Also, I found she treated us differently because we were foreigners. She took out our charcoal before we even finished cooking all of our meat, albeit it was mostly two pieces of bone but there were still a significant chunk of meat on them. And it appeared that there were after-meal fruits, which she brought to the other table but not ours. =(
So, for it being such a popular and highly rated restaurant, it was definitely waaaayyyyyy under my expectations. The portion was small for the amount they charged, 36,000 won per serving 180g of kalbi. Looking back, maybe we should have tried their potato noodles instead of ordering the third serving of kalbi in an attempt to fill our stomach. It did say “extra” order of potato noodles were 2,000 won, so I don’t know if our ajumma just skimped on serving us the potato noodles as well, lol?. And I would say the kalbi was average or maybe slightly above, at best. It was certainly a bustling place for locals. I think it’s a wonderful place if you speak the language. But the price doesn’t reflect in the amount or the quality of kalbi they give you. I wouldn’t go back and I don’t recommend it.
Side story – I forgot my phone in the room and left. They were nice enough to rush out and find me after I used their washroom, so I really appreciated that. =)
Haeundae Sonumnam Amso Galbijip
32-10, Jungdong 2-ro 10beon-gil, Haeundae-gu, Busan
Spicy beef ribs – 36,000 kwon
Soybean paste stew – 3,000 kwon