random korean place
name and address TBA
(around the corner from Lane 141, Hu Lin Street)
visit reviewed: 11/28/2006
You know how sometimes you are headed for one place, but then you end up at another? Sometimes it yields awesome results. In this case, not so awesome.
I was with a friend and thought she would enjoy the delicious and very affordable pho from Delicacies of Vietnam. After a short walk, I was extremely bummed to find their shop mysteriously closed at 6:30PM on a Wednesday. So we took our hungry stomachs to the nearest decent looking place we could find. Around the corner, the bright neon sign indicated korean BBQ and I thought, sure, why not?
Inside, it was warm colored walls, but sparsely decorated. The menu was only in Chinese, mostly handwritten, and a few pictures in the front and the back. I ended up pointing at the bimbimbap in the stone bowl, the seafood pancake and the beef (to be grilled) (or galbi, though they didn't know what I was talking about when I said galbi).
Excited to see a tray full of side dishes, or panchan, at our table on top of the grill, I was slightly confused when the owner/waitress seemed to be taking it away. Apparently, they weren't free here, they were NT$40 each. A bit impatient, she hurriedly pointed out the different ones and practically walked away before we could make up our minds. We ended up choosing the seaweed and sprouts (instead of the cucumbers, kimchee, and kimchee radishes).
Although they were quite speedy, they were not the most friendly, or at least to us. There were two white guys at the next table who also seemed to have a bit of trouble communicating with the owner/waitress, though she seemed quite friendly to the larger parties that eventually trickled in.
The beef came first, and simliar to what I experienced in Korea, it is already cut off the bone and they start grilling it for you. However, it was quite different from the picture in the menu and that it seemed like a lot less than we envisioned for NT$300. It is also grilled without any marinade- instead you wrap it with the lettuce and can use the sauce to flavor it.
Maybe I had high expectations, but it just seemed like not a good value- a little bit of meat for almost US$10. It would have been worth it if the quality of beef blew me away (like some of the Korean bbq I had in Pusan), but it wasn't memorable at all.
Next came the seafood pancake (NT$300)- it was doughy and crispy- the thicker texture made it a bit heavy. The owner/waitress cut the freshly panfried pancake into slices in front of us.
After awhile, the bimbimbap (NT$200) came out and again the owner/waitress "served" it by mixing the ingredients before we could touch it. I didn't get a picture of it, since it didn't look as appetizing after it was all mixed in with the kimchee redness being the main element. The spiciness stood out the most about the dish, and after a few minutes, the bottom of the rice hardened into a crispy, browned crust to enjoy. It was dried out and gave my teeth a work out, but I enjoy that part of eating with the stone bowl. You can also get it without the stone bowl for NT$150.
In contrast to the warm hospitality I felt at my only other experience of Korean food in Taipei so far, Fire Tree Silver Flower Korean bbq buffet, this place left me feeling like they didn't really care if we ate there or not. Some places, the food is good enough that you will brave that kind of service. This place, why bother if there are other tastier, friendlier options just a few steps away.