Hello all~ Jia here, and yes that was a play on the famous "Oh Captain! My Captain!" from Walt Whitman's poem, but I heard it first from the 'Dead Poets Society' movie(which is pretty good by the way). The topic of today's blog is the European-Asian buffet restaurant My Chef on Queen Street. Some of the images weren't mine because I thought I'd taken them but realised I hadn't once I got home.
|Yeah I guess we're pretty similar to Heimlich from A Bug's Life.|
Back to the food blog about My Chef, even though it's a buffet my friends and I just know it as a Korean BBQ place because honestly, it is the main reason anyone goes as far as I know. I went there on the last day of the semester with Brad, as a small reward for getting through half a year of uni, even if there's still exams. Our other friends weren't able to make it but it was alright since we ate enough to make up for it!!
It's got a friendly vibe, being a noisy buffet area. It's not so noisy that you have to shout to talk to your table mates though. Each of the tables are set with gas fueled BBQ hot plates and the whole place as a warm sort of aura(yes the fact it's a BBQ place helps), due to the wooden floors and furniture and beige walls. I did notice that it's quite a tight squeeze between chairs which is a pain when you all want to go get food and all that. ALSO: you have to pay attention very carefully to where you're walking. I didn't get a picture but the wooden floors were somehow very uneven and I nearly tripped over a couple of times, and I'm sure the table near me would have appreciated the raw meat flung on them.
|We were sat in a more private walled table, and they helpfully provide spare cans of gas to use if you run out. They also usually provide aluminium foils which you do constantly need to change.|
|The wooden screen doors on the walls also give it a more Korean feel to the place.|
The drinks bar had self-serve drinks, presumably coffee at the corner there, and two containers of drinks. I sampled the milky off-white one, which was a strange sweet liquid with rice bits floating around it. I'm not totally sure what it was but it was quite nice.
The food, being a buffet, was spread out at the walls, having a range of cooked foods on one side, then transitioned to the raw meat in one section.
There's also a freezer at the side should you feel you want even more selection but the best stuff is in the meat bar already.
I didn't try much of the cooked food because I was more interested in the BBQ, but I have sampled the kimbob(basically Korean sushi) and the fried chicken wings. The cooked food isn't bad either, and I especially like the crispy skin of the chicken which is cooked to perfection. It does soften after a while though of course so it may not be crispy when you eat it.
Now, the BBQ itself. For those of you who haven't tried Korean BBQ, and are wondering about the difference between normal BBQ and this, its probably just the smaller grill that you use and the type of meat. While there's charcoal grills like Faro, more commonly the grill is like a hot plate that has a small portable stove underneath, and to keep it relatively clean you are given a foil to cook your meat. These get filled with oil and burnt bits over time so you have to change foil after a while. We started off with Bulgogi and Fresh Pork Belly, because it seems like a logical choice seeing as when I eat Korean usually I go for the Bulgogi. I do, however, have a preference for marinated meat and these, well, weren't. There was one container that had sauce in it but was generally empty of any meat so I didn't really pay attention to it; Galbi.
Just when there was some meat, and I got up to try it, this guy was in front of me so I patiently waited seeing as there was enough for both of us, but he just kept taking putting it on his plate. He just would not stop. I watched in disbelief as he took all the remaining Galbi and returned to my seat disappointed. However the efficient staff were quick to notice it and returned to refilled it completely so ha! jokes on him now. On the other hand because the meat that he got, sat in the marinade for a while it was able to soak up more of the sauce... oh well. It was still really good. I quickly filled up the plate(and left some for others like a polite person would) and went back to the table.
|Pork Belly and a piece of Galbi|
|Delicious Galbi grilling<3|
|Yay I didnt have to cook!|
Being a buffet you don't really have much need for service. There is a bar at one end and that's where most of the staff congregate if they're not refilling food or attending to customers. As noted earlier though, they were efficient and put aside spare foils and gas cans around the tables. They're also fine with helping you restart your stove grill when you decide that perhaps taking a break and turning the flame off is a good idea(which, by the way, is not). I'm serious, this happens every time at any Korean BBQ I go to. And every time, we can't get the flame going again, and have to ask the staff to help.
Being a buffet I suppose the presentation is up to you, so I'll have to pass on this.
The price is reasonable and student friendly, which explains the amount of students in the place, and you can eat as much as you like. They do have a stipulation that if anyone does not finish what they took then everyone at the table will pay a $10 extra fee. I reckon this is a good idea so that it ensures that people don't take too much and waste food. Us, we took in small amounts but many times, and took a break between plates so we could digest a little.
I think this place is worth a try whenever you're craving some Korean BBQ. The only other one I'm aware of in city that's not more upscale like Faro is the one at 492 Queen St, Auckland CBD, but it's a bit of a walk for uni students compared to this one just upstairs in Midcity at 239 Queen St. If you want to make a booking, call them at 09-3770855. Again, watch out for the floor and don't forget to finish all the food!
Thanks for reading,
Just the One Lamb