Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In the west barbecues have become a staple of many good summers, enjoying grilled meats with a group friends over a drink or two. Korean style barbecues (숯불구이) easily hold their own with the best of what I have experienced, can be enjoyed all year round, are great for a small group of people, and the taste is phenomenal. Once you have experienced a good Korean barbecue you will not forget it!
Mentioning “Korean BBQ” to a college of mine at work resulted in the response “ohh.. ohh yeah.. ohh yeah..” whilst nodding his head furiously and saliva forming in his mouth. A recent visit to BiWon helps explain why.
BiWon, in Auckland, New Zealand. You can just see the sign in front of you as you pull into the carpark.
Initial impressions – you might not want to bring a first date here, but it’s inviting enough. The area is clean and tucked away behind a rise.
BiWon has a choice of BBQ and other dishes. For this review we stay with the BBQ menu but it’s worth looking at the rest as well. Most of the BBQ menu items are on “special” which, from experience, are the same specials week in and out so take a couple of dollars off the listed price for an accurate measure.
From the menu we choose marinated beef rib (생갈비), there is a boneless one but the quality of the meat and taste tends to be better with the bone on, and the sliced marbled beef (차돌박이) to give something without too much existing marinade as different sauces are provided.
After our order is placed the staff set our table. Branded paper place mats and coverings keep the utensils clean and add a nice touch of style.
A short time later (there is rarely much waiting around in Korean restaurants!) the exciting part begins as the main event arrives – food!
BiWon provides a modest set of side dishes, all with a nice flavour.
The obligatory, well known, Kim Chi (배추 김치), which is not too “young” or fresh – I prefer it a little more aged – is, of course spicy and well received. The length of pieces could be smaller as it makes it a bit difficult to handle when assembling a BBQ wrap (below)
Seaweed (미역줄기 무침), and not too salty
Pickled spicy Korean radish (매운 무 초절임), one of my favourites
Pickled Korean radish (무 초절임) - without the spice
Stir-fried fish cake (오뎅 볶음) and
Korean lettuce (상추), similar to fancy lettuce along with water chestnut jelly (묵), tucked down the bottom left of the picture
The side dishes are accompanied by a bowl of rice and
Bean paste soup (된장 찌개). This one doesn’t look or sound like much but I love the taste, it gives a very full, almost earthy flavour. I would keep on coming back to BiWon just for this alone!
Three different sauces provide more options and flavours
Bottom left – salt, pepper, sesame oil (소금 후추 기름장), Bean past – top middle (쌈장), and bottom right – a sweet sauce which unfortunately I don’t know the name of?
After exploring the array of different side-dishes the next step is to start cooking. This is where it might become a little similar to western barbecue again. A container of coals is placed in the centre of the table and a gas flame heats them up under an oiled cooking surface (철판). The coals quickly come to temperature and provide an additional flavour for your meat.
We start by cooking the sliced marbled beef
Making use of the provided tongs to not burn our hands!
And finish off with..
When it has bone on it, it needs to be un-rolled and scissors used to cut the meat into bits sized portions
During all this cooking you will of course be building up your appetite; be well into your side dishes and starting to create your Korean BBQ wraps
These are made by taking some lettuce and simply combining whatever combination of meat, rice, sauce, and side dish you feel like!
Definitely a good night out!
To top it all off BiWon offers a selection of Korean ice creams you can pick-up on your way out
This coffee flavored one is particularly nice.
In summary BiWon offers a memorable Korean BBQ experience, the food is delicious and fresh and the price is about average for New Zealand. This style of eating is good for small groups of 2-5 however larger ones can be catered for. Waiting staff are friendly, speak English, and usually pay attention to customers’ needs. Water and tea are self-service while other beverages are available for order. The hygiene rating is currently ‘B’
BiWon is located about 15min from Auckland city by car, at 1/19-29 Link Drive, Glenfield, North Shore. Car parking is usually available outside.
A final word of warning when eating Korean BBQ, don’t wear your best clothes as they will probably need washing afterwards from the smoke and cooking. However, have a few suitable sets at home as you will definitely be back!
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