Restaurants & Bars 2

Korean Grill Buffet in Raleigh

rockycat | Dec 18, 200910:08 AM

I went for lunch today on the strength of Greg Cox's review in the N&O. I'm nowhere near as enthusiastic as he is. If you're a healthy eater the price for lunch ($10.95, not $9.95 as stated in the article) is not unreasonable. You're welcome to cook as much meat as you can eat. They have the proper accompaniments - lettuce leaves, raw garlic, bean paste, spicy sauce, etc. There are a few hot dishes and, at least at lunch, they were not as interesting as the review suggested.

The pluses - The staff is all English-speaking and very kind and helpful. They will cook your meats for you if you need help. They will also leave you alone if you prefer. The raw foods are fresh and crisp. There are definitely a few little gems such as a cold soup with buckwheat noodles and daikon and a lettuce/onion salad. The tofu on the hot bar wasn't half bad, either.

The minuses - Even to my American palate, the food seemed underseasoned. I generally consider Korean spicing unsubtle in the extreme. Sweet is very sweet, spicy is very spicy, all without a middle ground. I've never before been in a Korean restaurant where I didn't find some of the food far too spicy for me. Didn't have that problem at all here. Even the "spicy sauce" and the "spicy pork" were tame by Korean standards. I tried some of the grilled meat by itself before assembling the wrap and realized that the meat wasn't all that heavily seasoned. It wasn't unpleasant, just underseasoned. The array of banchans was very limited, although what there was tasted just fine.

All in all, while I can't complain too much about the quality of the food, the food at Seoul Garden is far better. Korean Grill Buffet would be an excellent introduction to Korean food for a newbie or someone who might be intimidated by the unfamiliar. The flavors, however, are somewhat Americanized and a person already familiar with Korean food might very well be disappointed. If, however, you 're jonesing for a major meat-fest, there's a terrific bang for the buck here.

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