I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather lately. Not sure if it’s the increasingly cold weather or I’ve just been eating too much. The lethargy, the back pains, the occasional insomnia is all getting to me. I’m yearning to be somewhere warm, lay on the beach and take out my summer wardrobe again. The long winter is not something I’m good with. Sometimes I think I was a bear in my past life.
Even though I’m feeling like this, I somehow still have cravings sometimes for Korean BBQ. It’s so strange. I love the sound of scorching meat on the grill and chowing it down with crisp, fresh lettuce. I guess not having a good stomach to handle much meat means I can only think and dream about it.
It doesn’t help when I went to one of the best Korean BBQs I have ever had during my recent overseas trip. For some reason, Korean food in China is just so much better than in Melbourne. They might not be the most authentic but they’re cheap, the servings are reasonable and we get a lot of different sauces to dip our delicious meat in.
A restaurant called Quan Jin Cheng (权金城) in Beijing was not the typical Korean BBQ establishment, not even for China standards. Instead of providing just lettuce to wrap the meat in, we also got fresh cucumber and radish. I never realised how delicious cucumber was when dipped in Korean bean paste.
Like regular Korean restaurants throughout the world, we also had an endless supply of small side dishes, this time including marinated tofu, chicken and potato curry (Chinese style) and pickled radish.
Look at how many dipping sauces we got! Compared to 1 back at home, this was like heaven.
There was an abundance of meat choices from the menu, but we opted for our favourite marinated beef ribs. This dish was sweet and succulent. It didn’t need very long on the fire before it was ready to be devoured.
Like traditionally served, the ribs were pre cut and rolled up for you, so we had to cut it with the scissors provided into edible portions.
One plate of meat was obviously not enough for 3 people, so we also ordered a plate of lamb and spicy marinated pork. How lovely is the cut lamb? It’s a lot more work to roll up, freeze, then cut into rounds than to just slice it as it is. They have already won compared to Aussie Korean BBQ restaurants on just presentation alone.
Korean BBQ wouldn’t be complete without some pork belly. Just like the lamb, the pork belly was also cut into rounds and fancily plated, although I do admit, presenting the dish this way meant we got less meat.
Mushrooms is a must order for me when it comes to BBQ. I usually leave the shiitake on the edges of the hot plate right at the beginning of the meal and towards the end, the mushrooms are beautifully cooked and juicy. Remember to turn them upside down so the juices don’t seep down and get wasted.
If you can’t eat too much meat in one sitting, try some of this seafood pancake which should be available at most Korean BBQ restaurants. Quan Jin Cheng’s version didn’t have as much seafood as I was expecting but I suppose the lack of it is what kept the costs down. None the less, presentation was again immaculate, not something I can say for similar restaurants at home (you should have seen the last one I had…).
The grill gets changed every time it starts turning black or when you call the waiter. This is the case at most Korean restaurants as the grill can get quite dirty, quite fast. I really dislike waiters at Korean restaurants helping me to cook my food which many places tend to do. This way the food gets slapped on the grill too quickly and obviously the quicker you cook the food, the faster you must eat. So I prefer to cook and cut the meat myself, leaving only the grill changing to the staff. This way I get to chat and enjoy the food at my own pace.
I feel like I just got ahead of myself and started dreaming about the meat again. It’s going to be a long time before I can dig in to one of those beef ribs…but if you feel like some, head to your local Korean BBQ, or even better, if you find yourself in China (especially Beijing or Shanghai) head to a Quan Jin Cheng and you’ll understand just what I’ve been rambling and dreaming about.
Quan Jin Cheng is a franchise throughout Beijing, Shanghai and other nearby cities, but the one that I went to was the Xi Zhi Men (西直门) store.
Quan Jin Cheng Xi Zhi Men store 权金城北京西直门店
Address: Beijing, Xi Cheng Qu, Xi Zhi Men Nei Da Jie, Nan Cao Chang Jia 11 Hao