Seoul Garden

Seoul Garden is a chain of Korean barbecue restaurants with presence in several prominent shopping malls. Today, we had our late lunch at the outlet in KL Festival City Mall. Despite the 3:00pm odd hour, the place is quite crowded because it is a weekend.
The barbecue is served buffet-style. An array of raw ingredients are served at the food counter, and customers can choose from an assortment of fresh meat, seafood, processed meat and vegetables. There are also several cooked dishes for those who want to eat something while waiting for raw food to be cooked.
The price is charged per-head basis. Lunch is generally cheaper. For adults, the price is RM28.88 per person. Children, students and senior citizens enjoy some discount. The default soup base is chicken (without extra charge). However, there are several soup upgrades available, such as kimchi. Personally, I do not think it is necessary to upgrade the soup because most of the good ingredients are meant to be grilled anyway.
Take note that the price does not include drinks. Refillable beverages are charged RM3.99 per person. We opted not to have beverages for two reasons: One, we wanted to optimize our stomach for solid food, not cheap syrup. Two, there are fruits and desserts which are good substitute for drinks anyway.

The most attractive ingredients are the various types of marinated meat. Our choices are mostly chicken and fish. We did not pick beef because my lunch-mates do not consume beef and we need to share the same cooking pot and frying pan. To our dismay, mutton is not served at Seoul Garden. There is also no pork as the restaurant is halal-certified.
In particular, the coffee chicken is really something special! I like the marinate and the unique, rich flavor when cooked. Many of the fish ingredients are nice too.
Not satisfied with the first round, we had a second helping of coffee chicken. This time, we also had some curry squid and pea sprouts.
In the seafood department, there are shrimps, clams and mussels. These ingredients are quite popular and deplete quickly. Be patient and wait for the staff to refill them, then grab the best, succulent ones.
To balance the meat, we had some vegetarian ingredients such as Japanese bean curd, baby corn, bamboo shoots, Enoki mushrooms and bean curd skin. Usually, non-meat ingredients are better boiled than grilled.
We avoided processed food such as sausages, meatballs and fish balls. Many people fall victim to buffet restaurants with these ingredients. After all, they are made mostly of flour with little actual meat/fish. Processed food serve to make the customers' stomach bloated, therefore making short work of their appetite.

A stove is built into each table and operated on electricity. It consists of a cauldron filled with soup of choice. The soup is kept boiling as ingredients are added. Sometimes when too many ingredients are added simultaneously, the boiling slows to a simmer, but starts boiling again shortly. After some time, the soup depletes due to consumption and boiling. In this case, just ring any server to have the soup refilled free-of-charge.
Surrounding the cauldron is a round griddle where food can be grilled. Usually, grilling works better on marinated meat. No oil is provided at Seoul Garden, but this is fine because the natural fat from the meat works as well.

Some condiments that go well with barbecue are chopped garlic and green chili sauce.
For cooked dishes, there are tomyam fried rice, several types of kimchi (김치), deep-fried fish with roe, potato curry puffs etc. In particular, we like the cucumber and cabbage kimchi as these dishes are juicy and appetizing.
For desserts, we had some fruit salad, ice cream, ice kacang and watermelon. For the ice kacang, shaved ice is produced using a mechanized ice shaver. Unfortunately the ice shavings are quite coarse, making the ice kacang difficult to enjoy.
Seoul Garden is a decent all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant, with several nice ingredients (especially marinated meat) if you know which ones to focus on. Our dining experience is slightly disturbed by the fact that there is housefly nuisance in the restaurant. Hopefully the management does something about this.

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