Seoul Garden Dallas Review
After reading many posts suggesting Seoul Garden as a top-rated Korean restaurant, I finally took the plunge and had dinner Saturday evening, 3/15/08.
To begin with, it was a dissappointment to find that there is now a new menu and they no longer serve the 30 dish special jeung ski. Nevertheless, we were still excited to try the several other dishes that have been suggested on this board at various times.
There was an extreme language challenge right from the start with only 1 person who spoke (sort-of) English on the staff that night. We had many questions about the various dishes, but in the end, had to just take a wild guess.
We were encouraged to see that besides us Anglos, everyone else in the restaurant appeared to be Asian and getting along quite well with the menu.
After a considerable amount of frustration, we decided on the BBQ beef (Bulgogi?) that I have enjoyed in many other Korean restaurants. We added a side order of fish soup hot pot, hot sake and the "special rice". The waitress came over with the charcoal and set up the BBQ for us and shortly after the Bulgogi arrived. After waiting about 10 minutes for our drinks to arrive, and after cutting the beef into strips, we put the beef on the BBQ grill surface.
It was immediately apparant that we had acted too soon as the meat just sat there doing nothing. We drank our hot sake (barely warm, served in a tea pot) in hopes that the fish soup would arrive while we waited for the grill to get up to temperature.
No such luck. We waited, waited, and finally after another 15 minutes had gone by we put some meat on the grill just to get it started. The meat took forever to get cooking! We asked the waitress to turn up the fan underneath the grill and boost the temperature, but she could not understand us, so we progressed ever so slowly.
When the meat finally did cook (somewhat), out of shear hunger, we wrapped it in the lettuce leaves (soggy wet) and began to eat. The flavor was absoutely horrible. Liver tasting, too rare for this style cuisine and tough. The soup was requested twice and finally arrived at the table lukewarm, with an extremely fishy smell and taste.
I have eaten Korean food quite a few times and never had anything as bad as this. (My favorite site is Hugn Jab Rib Bar, San Antonio).
For a meal that came to $80 (with generous tip), this was one of the worst meals I have ever experienced. I cannot in any way reccommend this restaurant to anyone.
We too had high expectations for Seoul Garden, which is seemingly considered the best Korean restaurant in town, but didn't enjoy their food much at both times we were there, so we don't plan to go back. But our experience isn't based on BBQ. Their seafood pancake and japche (stir-fried vermicelli) were pretty bad. Their raw beef was frozen (had to wait for a few min before it was thawed!) and bland. I liked Mirak's version of raw beef much better.
Their service was pretty slow at both times, though there weren't that many customers. We don't give much emphasis on service so that wasn't an issue for us. We kind of like it when the wait stuff isn't fluent in English--often a sign of authenticity, though not necessarily a sign of good food!
I agree with you kuidaore, usually a language barrier is kind of exciting and we manage well enough. Also, slow service is not an issue with us at Asian restaurants, we appreciate being left along (when everything is going well). In this case however both language and service were an issue primarily because of the very poor quality of the food and the lukewarm sake. The evening was a personal embarassment because I am the "chosen one" for directing the eating wagon. Oh well. I just posted my opinion because I have read so many, many wonderful posts about this place that I felt another viewpoint would be helpful.
Absolutely the same experience here. We tried Seoul Garden based on favorable reviews on Chowhound, and it was possibly the worst Korean barbecue I've ever had. We were very disappointed. None of the meats had a sharp, strong enough flavor, and all seemed "flabby" as opposed to lean and sliced thinly.
We normally go to Korea House and found everything, item for item, to be superior at Korea House.