If you’re in the mood for something a little different, then take your taste buds on a Korean culinary journey, writes Matthew Herbst
With grumbling tummies, my Taste Test partner Chris Fisher and I were keen to get to Amazing Chicken Grill and BBQ as fast as possible. But to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect as this was the first time I would be trying Korean food. What I did expect, though, was to find something perhaps a little more Asian-inspired from the outside of the restaurant. When we turned into a dark parking lot at the back end of a bunch of apartment blocks, Chris pointed towards a place that could easily be mistaken for a fast-food chicken outlet thanks to its plain décor, which was definitely not Asian.
But I wasn’t going to let the outside sway me and I walked in with hope as I’d heard nothing but good things about this restaurant and was all for giving it a shot.
Upon opening the door, we were greeted by a waiter with large smile and ushered to our table. The inside was far nicer than the outside, with a simple, clean décor, a few tables and it wasn’t overcrowded. The dining space was adorned with good luck charms, sleek bookshelves covered in ornaments, a pinboard with colourful messages and Korean flags.
We sat down and perused the menus that came in both Korean and English and were decorated with beautiful artwork on the pages. The text was easy to read and you were not overwhelmed with too many choices. Chris suggested the set menu, which would allow us to sample a little of everything on offer, and I agreed. To drink, I decided on the Korean green tea. I was somewhat surprised with the first sip, which had a slight bitterness to it, but the more I drank, the more delicious it became.
And then our first round of the set menu arrived. Three plates came first: one was a simple-looking chicken salad that had a subtle sweetness to it. However, there wasn’t enough shredded chicken in the dish. The second was a plate of jeon, or Korean-style pancakes. Small and round, these were delicious and had just the right amount of spice – I was almost tempted to order another plate of them. The third dish was piled high with glass noodles, peppers and what looked like bok choy, an Asian leaf vegetable. I wasn’t so keen on the japchae noodles even though they looked delicious. I found them a little difficult to chew and with my phobia of choking, I decided not to continue with this dish.
Chris, on the other hand, enjoyed the noodles and slurped them down like a pro. Feeling quite satisfied already with our spread of new Korean flavours, the second part of our set menu arrived on a little trolley that reminded me of a hospital dinner service.
The waiter laid out seven well-presented side dishes. These included a pickled red cabbage, a serving of Korea’s famed kimchi, sliced baby marrow, an egg roll, broccolli perched on a sweet plum sauce and two fish dishes. As we tucked into the second chapter of our Korean culinary journey, we were also served soup and our main of jjim dak chicken, as well as small bowls of steamed rice. The jjim dak chicken was drenched in an interesting-looking sauce and was sitting on a bed of noodles and vegetables.
We greedily tucked in, tasting each of the side dishes, some of which we couldn’t quite place the taste or texture. But I have to say that the egg roll was the standout here.
We then moved on to the miso-style soup. The broth was clear and clean-tasting, with a hint of the sea thanks to the small pieces of seaweed floating around the bowl.
But it was the jjim dak chicken that was the star of the show. Consisting of large chunks of chicken cooked on the bone to maximise the flavour, the sauce was moreish and delicious. Needless to say, we wolfed this down as the chicken was so tender and tasty, while the sauce could be described as being similar to a type of black-bean tangy taste. Mid-bite, I said to Chris that I could easily have ordered a bowl of the sauce on its own. Yes, it really was that good.
As I enjoyed the last of my green tea, I wondered what could be in store for us in terms of dessert. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn’t have any desserts on its menu – initially much to my disappointment.
But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as both Chris and I are on a health kick at the moment and eating dessert would only reignite that sweet-tooth flame within us both.
That said, we left feeling satisfied and probably didn’t have enough room for it anyway. Amazing Chicken Grill and BBQ is, in its own words, quite amazing – and definitely worth a visit if you’re prepared to try something new.
Ghubra, Tel: 2207 5558
Opening hours: Sat-Thurs 10.30am-3pm; 16.30pm-11.30pm, Friday 2pm-11.30pm
Dinner and drinks for two: RO16.50
Verdict: Service (8/10), Food (7/10), Ambience (8/10)
Sweet and simple décor, but offers something new and very different
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