Monday, October 17, 2011

Korean BBQ @ Blue Garden Restaurant

(Above and below)Interior of Blue Garden Korean BBQ Restaurant

To celebrate mom's birthday, our family decided to head down to Blue Garden restaurant at 50 Tiong Bahru Road,#01-07 located within the Link Hotel. This restaurant is a simple setup that offers Korean BBQ at a very reasonable price. We had read mixed reviews of the restaurant with good review by food bloggers like ladyironchef and also a few very negative reviews by netizens and decided that the some of the negative reviews needed to be taken with a pinch of salt as it appears that they are expecting a royal treatment when the bbq buffet only costs $19.90 for lunch and $26.90 for dinner. The dinner is more pricey as they also serve barbequed live seafood directly imported from Jeju island.

Arriving there slightly at 11 plus before the restaurant, we were met by the smiles of a korean lady who seemed to be in charge. She was very friendly to our queries and invited us in even though they had not opened for business yet. They open from 12noon to 3pm and then from 5pm to 10pm. We did not come across any rude staff or any form of unfriendliness from any staff that we had heard netizens rave so much about and so it was a pleasant experience eating there. They even changed our used bbq hotplate and dish plates without us asking and so it was prompt and good service. At $19.90 for lunch, it was alright to be served with plain water for drinks since it is absolutely sinful to wash away the wonderful marinated taste of korean meat with sugary soft drinks.

We started off with the cooked section which comprised of free-flow of standard Korean fare like Kimchi Pancakes, Korean seaweed Soup and Ox Bone Soup, Korean Spicy Rice Cakes(Ddukbokkie), and a variety of Kimchi. The cooked section dishes are not warmed, in fact some are cold so we can see why some netizens were not too pleased but then why get so uptight over the side dishes since these are not the main reasons why you come to Blue Garden.

(Above) Kimchi pancake

(Above) Boiled Pork Belly from the cooked section.

(Above) Piping hot ox bone soup.

This is not to say that they are not nice. The side cooked dishes are acceptable but we would like to point out the Ox bone soup. This was really good murky white boiled to goodness bone soup with soft bone marrow thrown into the soup. Gayle and myself had countless bowls of this soup which is really comfort food. Our family liked the kimchi pancake and fried chicken though. There was also abalone porridge available which mom liked.

(Above) Hotplate for bbq of meat

Finally, we were ready for our main course which was the meat section. There was free flow of Pork Collar, Beef Belly, Pork Belly, and three different types of Bulgogi (beef, chicken and pork). There was also free flow of beef and pork slices which are not marinated for those who want the unadulterated taste of meat.

(Above)Assorted Bulgogi

(Above)Meat and more meat

(Above)Savoury meat cooking

(Above) Lettuce and garlic clove to go with the meat.

Given that most of the Korean restaurants that we have been to charged at least $18 for a small plate of bbq meat, the free flow of meat here showed that the pricing at Blue Garden is really reasonable and even value for money. Do go for the bottom slice when taking the meats so that you get the fully dunked in marinated slices but remember not to make a mess of the buffet spread. The wine pork belly was really nice and we had to stop ourselves in the name of health. The meat is really well marinated and we ate like a week's supply of meat there.

While we not there for dinner, we read that they serve seafood during dinner which accounts for the higher price. Recommendations are to try the Jo Gae Gui (Live assorted barbequed shells), Gwang Uh Hoi (Live flat fish sashimi) and other meat dishes like Insam-Seol Leong Tang (Beef Bone Soup with Ginseng).

In all, we spent $109 inclusive for 5 persons for a very fulfilling Korean BBQ lunch which is quite hard to match. The restaurant is surpisingly quite quiet as there were only like three to four other tables occupied. We really see no logic why they are not crowded at lunchtime though. We plan to go back there soon when our meat craving starts again!

Carpark at the Link Hotel is pricey though at $5.90 for over two hours of parking on a weekend and the carpark is difficult to turn in if you are not familiar with Tiong Bahru area. After the Shell station at the intersection of Outram and Tiong Bahru road, turn sharp right into Seng Poh Road and look immediately to your left for the carpark entrance behind the pink coloured Link Hotel main building.