Sunday, August 20, 2006
Ju Shin Jung Korean Charcoal BBQ
When I peered into this place (27 West Coast Highway #01-18, 6464-0872) from the outside, its big, brightly lit presence with scissors, a range of kimchi, and plastic jugs of cold water on each table (some of which you sit on the floor) instantly reminded me of Korea. Things continued to look promising, as they had green onion salad listed as a side on the menu, as well as nurungji, which I believe was supposed to be that scorched rice thing that I was trying to hunt down. They even had cool little disc things that looked like chalky mints, but were actually dehydrated and shrunken towels that expanded once you poured water on them.
We went with our usual favorites, kalbi and tongue, or in this case, galbisal and woosul, respectively. The tongue came first, and unfortunately struck the nerve that to me makes or breaks the thing very easily: it was sliced too thickly. This one in particular became rather rubbery, which didn't make things any better. And no, there wasn't much taste on its own, thus necessitating the dip into that lemon-juice and salt concoction.
The kalbi came next, and while it was tender, it simply was too lean and thus had very little taste to it. I had to dip it away in salt and pair it with a raw garlic slice (dragon breath alert) in order to get any bang out of it, and even then it was more of a salty garlicky taste rather than the natural taste of the meat (I wish they had given me some sesame oil to dip into at least). Hmm...while it was still very edible, it just wasn't quite what I was hoping for. (Interestingly, the namesake charcoal grills are inset into each table, but the waitress hovers over you to cook everything for you, which disappointed me too.)
And of course, there were the sides, half of which were a bit too sweet for me. Worse, they ran out of the green onion salad tonight, and this place's version of nurungji turned out to be nothing more than a bland rice porridge, with not a burn mark on the rice to be found. I never thought I would say this, but I actually liked Crystal Jade's Korean place better. Who'd have known?
Well, in retrospect, I realized that this place offered a better grade of kalbi that was only S$3 (US$1.70) more, presumably (and hopefully) with more fat in it for extra taste (a bit akin to getting the better quality beef at Aburiya). If I do come back here, I will definitely have to get that instead, and will have to find something else besides the tongue in hopes that maybe my mildly disappointing meal tonight was just my own fault for ordering the wrong items. I've also gotta remember to try to get here before 10 PM: even though they are open until 11 PM, we got a few evil stares from the staff tonight when we popped in at 9:50 PM, clearly because they were ready to go home early until we arrived and messed up their plans.
Digested at 11:04 PM
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