...Hey, it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Seoul Chako just recently opened up on Ste-Catherine's street. After my last run-in with Korean BBQ of the AYCE sort, I was a bit scared of trying this place out. Still, armed with a student discount coupon, a small group of us charged blindly into the restaurant with very little ($10?) to lose.
Ugh, school. Exams. This semester is sooo not going well. At this point, I think even zombies have it better than I do. I mean, if eating brains means garnering the person's former knowledge, then bring it on. I could sure use that.
Accessibility - Grade: A-
It's downtown, on Ste-Catherine's street. You can't get any more accessible than that. About a five minute walk from Guy-Concordia, St-Mathieu exit.
Service - Grade: B+
Hey, we had really good service! Granted, it was lunch time and the restaurant was fairly empty, but for an Asian AYCE place, the service was really impressive. All of our waitresses were smiley and polite, and they didn't get annoyed with us when we kept ordering in small amounts. They weren't brisk, but they were efficient, and our orders came out very quickly. One of the waiters became a bit snippy at a neighbouring table, though, so it still depends on who you get.
This place is really pretty. It has that clean, zen feel to it mixed with the sleek and modern black tables and decor. If I was impressed by anything at all about this restaurant, it's how prim it is for an Korean BBQ restaurant.
Food - Grade: B-
All the tables in the restaurant have a built-in gas-powered grill, much like the ones found in Tianxia. However, unlike Tianxia's grill, we couldn't control the heat of our grill, and couldn't turn itnoff without aid. On the plus side, the high ceilings and deep grills resulted in almost no lingering smells on my hair and clothes after the meal.
The lunch menu was a bit limited, but still a pretty good deal for the price. There were quite a few misses, but there were also a few hits too.
In terms of appetizers, we tried the kimchi, beansprouts, pickled daikon, fried tofu, edamame, pork-bone soup and salad. The soup was pretty good, especially on a chilly day. The salad was a standard Korean-style salad, and the kimchi and fried tofu were unimpressive. The pickled daikon were pretty good, and the edamame had a lot more seasoning than what we're used to seeing.
|Beef and beef balls|
In terms of the meat, we only tried the beef, beef balls, beef short ribs, and squid. We also grilled some onion, zucchini and pumpkin.
The meats were marinated beforehand! Huzzah! The beef was pretty good, with a subtle bulgogi taste to it, but the highlight was definitely the beef short ribs. Juicy and succulent, the fat started sizzling and popping the moment we placed the meat on the grill. The heat also sears the underlying sweetness from the marinade into the meat. The squid was okay, but I personally found it a bit bland. Avoid avoid avoid the beef balls; they burn easily and don't taste good.
The grilled onions are delish! They go well with the beef, and don't give you horrifying breath afterwards. The zucchini grills well, but the pumpkin burned too easily. It also wasn't ripe enough, so it didn't soften while cooking.
We dared to try the sushi, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's comparable, if not better, than the sushi at AYCE sushi restaurants. Neither the seaweed no the tempura bits were stale, and the rolls were packed pretty tightly. Even the presentation was nicer than the sushi at AYCE sushi joints.
|Spicy salmon roll|
For lunch, the regular price is about $13 before tax and tip, while dinner is about $22 before tax and tip. I think lunch, especially, is a great deal for protein-craving students.
Final Grade: B
For a downtown AYCE Korean BBQ place, I'm pretty satisfied with Seoul Chako. Obviously, being an AYCE place, the quality isn't comparable to that of actual Korean restaurants, but I found the meat well-marinated, and the food was fairly fresh. The service was pretty good to boot, but I don't know how long that will last. Until then, Seoul Chako will probably be my go-to place for AYCE Korean BBQ.
1824 Ste-Catherine's Ouest, Montreal