Sunday, January 17, 2010

长寿 Jang Shou Korean Charcoal BBQ

After staring at the musical scores in the Esplanade library in vain (I have maxed out my library cards again), the two mice made their way to Jang Shou. I had a craving for Jang Shou's kimchi, which I felt were the most varied, generous and creative of all of the Korean restaurants in Singapore that I have tried before. I also like the fact that it uses actual charcoal to cook and not the flame gas usually used by the rest of the restaurants. (Not to be a arrogant ass about it, but a Korean restaurant owner in Sydney spoke to me in Korean after I discerned that his very excellent kimchi is homemade. Regretfully I can only eat Korean, not talk Korean. By the way, his restaurant also uses charcoal and he had a super sexy half naked young Korean guy serving his charcoal in a black apron. I was an instant fan... hahaha)

They were pretty busy today, but luckily (for them as well, since I am well known to have a poisonous pen) I had my DS Lite with me and we were content to play for the short while that we had to wait. The wait staff were all excellent, friendly and polite, especially the waitress who apologised to us for keeping us waiting, which was a surprise. They are not only very generous with the kimchi here, they actually take the initiative to top up the kimchi or fresh veggies without asking, a feat considering that they were dashing from table to table serving and cooking.

And the meat was cooked very precisely without any charred bits by the various staff who appeared at our table sporadically. The young waiter was especially good because he changed the pan (twice!!!) to make sure our meat did not get burnt or the nasty charcoal color and odor that emits from a scorched pan while we took our time to eat. Su Korean Cuisine doesn't fare well when it comes to this, while Hansang circumvents this problem by turning down the flame. Don't get me started on that horrible Ju Shin Jung (I never hated a restaurant as much as that one. Maybe I should get my friend to curse it. Restaurants he cursed almost always close down after a while. I'd curse it myself if I can get it shut down).

And the kimchi? 11 types today, and we can get top-ups, as long as we finish what we have. From the top left: Shigumchi Namul (sesame spinach), Haepari (jellyfish), tea eggs(???), gamjachae (julienned potatoes), daikon kimchi, lettuce salad, traditional kimchi, mustard leaves (I suspect, don't like this one), pasta salad (they serve with apple slices, mayo and vinegar(?)), celery with mushroom stirfry and the miscellaneous kimchi (I dislike...) . Su Korean Cuisine hides the good stuff, but does dole out the other kimchi when we ask.

Perhaps the reason why I am so chuffed today was also because Town Mouse indirectly complimented my skills when he commented that my daikon kimchi was better than the restaurant's (mine is less salty yet flavorful, but unfortunately I make a huge batch and we all get sick of eating it after a while. haha.).

You may wonder why am I focusing more on the service rather than the food. But when you spend a certain amount of $$, you expect a certain amount of service. If I want good food, I can cook myself. But to be waited on, without having to cook and clean up, is sheer heaven.

So my recommendations for Korean BBQ in Singapore:

(1) Jang Shou Korean Charcoal BBQ
Portions are ok (at least they are honest, not like other restaurants that spread out the meat to simulate a generous portion), Flavor is excellent, Service is excellent and Kimchi generous. Actual charcoal flame.

(2) Hansang Korean Family BBQ Restaurant
I like their pumpkin rice, which is cooked painstakingly. Portions are ok, Flavour ok, service ok, kimchi rather generous. They top up when asked.

(3) Togi Korean Restaurant
Very family style and authentic (well they have mostly Korean staff). Food is not bad but filling. Most affordable of the lot, I think, so also the most crowded and smallest. Feel the entreating eyes of strangers boring on you as you eat. Service is definitely a miss, because they cannot cover all the tables quickly enough. It's every man for himself.

(4) Su Korean Cuisine
Don't go there when they are busy... service is hit-and-miss sometimes (the staff are polite but slow to respond at times), value for money because they have set menus, Flavor is ok, and they give fruit at the end of the meal. They hide the good stuff, so remember to ask for your favorites.

(5) Hyang To Gol (my team went there for my birthday last year)
Portions were ok, Flavor was ok, Service was Outstandingly Terrible and Kimchi was stingy (you have to pay for second round).

(6) Shillawon Korean Cuisine
Value for money cos they have buffets, not really authentic Korean unless you order the ala carte, the buffet is more like Seoul Garden...buffet is varied at least.

(7) Crystal Jade Ginseng Chicken & BBQ
Not worth rating, too unmemorable (maybe except for their Ginseng chicken which was not bad) and EXPENSIVE.

I will NEVER go to Ju Shin Jung Korean Charcoal BBQ Restaurant in West Coast. I experienced the most atrocious service in 2005. We wanted to turn down the fire because we could see that the meat was turning into charcoal. In retaliation, the waiter cut up the meats until bits (I was so angry I couldn't eat). The manager knew that we were very infuriated but did nothing other than stare at his staff. We wasted S$105 on meat we could not eat because it was burnt and in little charcoal bits.

I am coming for Chang (Dempsey Road) soon.

We went for Chang already!! Read about the visit here.

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