(in chinese: HUO SU ING HWA 火樹銀花-韓式燒烤)
No.3-10, Jinan Rd., Sec. 2,
date visited: 9/28/2006
I was going to wait until I found out/translated the address until I posted this, but I will go ahead and do a preliminary post in honor of my first trip to Korea today! I am headed to Pusan/Busan for a week and will hopefully be eating a lot of GOOD Korean food. I haven't decided if I will feature any of the food there, since it is sort of off topic (not in Taipei!)- but we'll see!
I was invited by some friends to go eat Korean BBQ- I was quite excited since I really like the sweet and spicy marinade of bulgogi, kalbi and the like. This place is a little different than I expected, since it is more like a traditional Taiwan bbq with a Korean twist. It's all you can eat for a set price (NT$285/person at lunch, NT$329/person at dinner), with an area where you can grab your own meats and vegetables to grill/put in a soup at your table, and a panchan cold dishes bar to also plate up. The dishes are a refreshing partner to the taste of the grill.
soybean sprouts, tofu
What's different here is that every so often, the kitchen will bring out a few dishes of something- in our case, it was sweet fried chicken, seafood pancake or ha mul pajeon , and candied fried sweet potato dessert. The sesame fried chicken was slightly sweet and breaded, kind of like orange chicken. I like orange chicken, so I liked it.
While the waitress brought the pancake from table to table to ensure everyone got a piece, they placed the sweet potato down- which made for a mad frenzy of each table sending a representative to go grab enough for their table. The seafood pancake was light and slightly crispy, and so good that we asked the waitress if they were having another round later. At first she said no, but towards the end of the night, we got a pleasant surprise by getting a plate all to ourselves.
I kind of wished that you could order a Dol sot bibim bap or a stone rice dish with vegetables and meat, like they had at Bullfight Yakiniku, but it's available during lunch for a very affordable NT$100. I am not sure if that's something you can order ala carte, or an extra fee you have to pay with your all you can eat fee. They also didn't offer any jap chae, a stir fried vermicelli dish.
Some of the meats were REALLY spicy, and when grilled and stirfried together with the less spicy meats and the vegetables, I found the overall taste of the meats to be more spicy than anything else. I guess you could prevent this by not having any of the spicy chicken on the grill in the first place and sit with people who don't want spicy foods either. It's not that I don't like spicy foods, I do, it's just that the heat overcame any of the other flavor that I could enjoy.
time for the next round!
While I found their meat selection to be less varied and not marinated like I expected with only 1 selection each of chicken (very spicy), beef, lamb and pork, the Korean appetizers that came out made up for it. It's a good option if you like your flavors spicy or you are bored of the regular bbq/hotpot experience, but if you really want higher quality meat and seafood, you should probably go to Momo Paradise or Bullfight Yakiniku, . You also have to kind of guess/eyeball what you are getting since nothing is really labeled in the areas where you grab the meats, vegetables, cold dishes. Their dessert selection is slim- limited to a few fruits, but they send out the candied sweet potatoes as their grand finale.
It's not a huge space with about 15 tables crowded together, so you might check for reservation earlier in the evening if you want to go. I wouldn't say it's very baby friendly as the tables are quite close together and the restroom is a squat toliet- although they do open early at 5pm so you could go for an early dinner. But the servers are very friendly and helpful as its seems like a Korean family/friend run business, compared to some of the nonchalant attitudes you might get from the young local waiters who work at the various hot pot/bbq places. I wouldn't rule out going again, but it's probably more fun with a group of friends rather than a couple or a business lunch. In the back of my mind, I compare this place to a place my friend took me in Orange County, near UC Irvine that had some of the best Kalbi I have had in awhile- and this place didn't quite compare. I have heard about other good Korean restaurants here so I will probably try them out first. And we'll see what the food is like in Korea!