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Apr 1, 2013 01:49 AM

Road to Seoul: Items "Accidentally/Mistakenly" Brought Out, Common Practice (There or Other AYCE KBBQ)?

Believe it or not, I've never been to an AYCE KBBQ place before. I decided to try one tonight (last night now, technically) with my kids. Of course, I searched CH before picking one, and we ended up going to Road to Seoul.

Everyone got AYCE, and I ordered pork belly, calf intestine, and baby octopus before realizing I had forgotten to get the pork neck meat. When I tried to add that to our order, the waitress said we could only order 3 meats at a time (perhaps because we were a party of 3, or maybe that's just the normal limit).

When the meats came out, the waitress either said she had "accidentally" or "mistakenly" (I can't remember, but she definitely used one of those two words) brought out some seasoned rib meat, and if I didn't want it she would send it back. Since I would have probably gotten some beef anyway as part of our second "wave" (with the much desired pork neck meat, and maybe more offal), I said it was fine to leave it.

I soon learned to regret that decision, however. After the three strips of pork belly and the other items I actually ordered were quickly consumed, and everyone had their fill of rib meat, I discovered that we had quite a ways to go before finishing the remaining, yet uncooked, rib meat that we hadn't order.

The kicker, of course, was that we couldn't order the pork neck meat or the other items we might have been interested in (whole squid, cow stomach, etc.) until we were finished with the rib meat, and by the time we had, we were all too full to order anything else.

The mild conspiracy theorist in me speculated that the "accidental/mistaken" rib meat was actually intentional, a way to get customers to fill up on meat with a lower ingredient cost for the restaurant so they couldn't order more of the higher ingredient cost items like the pork neck meat or seafood. Rather damning was the fact that the amount of rib meat we got really did seem to be much more than would be appropriate for a table of 3.

Now, before anyone jumps down my throat for accusing R2S of any wrongdoing, I will say that I wouldn't actually call this practice deceptive, were it intentional. I was given a choice to send it back, and I did choose to keep it, so I own that choice.

Rather, if intentional, I'd compare it to a car dealership selling undercoating or scotchgarding. It's not like the car doesn't benefit from it, but it's generally not worth the cost. Likewise, we did get to eat the rib meat, but if we had been able to make a more informed decision, we would have served our own interests better.

Anyway, to make a long story longer, after debating it with myself this evening, my gut says yes, it was intentional, but I thought I'd ask you veterans of R2S or other AYCE KBBQ: Has this ever happened to you, and, if so, how common is it?

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  1. Extremely uncommon in my experience, I think we may have accidentally been brought an item just once or twice in all our time eating KBBQ, however, we were not offered the choice to keep it because it was actually another table's order. This doesn't exactly line up with your experience (if I'm reading right), where your server brought out an item she *thought* you ordered? Still, it seems a really bad and short-sighted strategy and I can't imagine competent management would tolerate or encourage that kind of upsell.

    1 Reply
    1. re: prawn

      I'm glad to hear that it's fairly uncommon. I too would expect an order for another table brought to us by mistake would not to be offered to us either, but that's what made my situation seem a little peculiar.

      I realize the waitstaff's probably dealing with many tables simultaneously, but the same waitress who took our order brought out the meat less than five minutes later, so I would hope she hadn't forgotten our order. *shrug*.

      That is one thing that wasn't, lacking, the speed of service and responsiveness. Didn't have to use the call button once, and they weren't _too_ fast with clearing things either.

    2. I don't have that experience, but I do get into situations where they give me too much of one thing. Like I order 2 items, and instead of bringing them one one plate, i actually get 2 plates.

      Now.. 1 plate of brisket is fine, but not one whole plate of pork belly or pork neck. The meal becomes a game quickly where we try to find ways to cook/eat/hide the unwanted amounts while still ordering other items hoping the situation doesn't repeat itself.

      3 Replies
      1. re: blimpbinge

        I have had the same thing happen with too much of an item, particularly if I am with a group where only a few people want a particular item. We usually make a point when ordering something like octopus or offal to ask them to only bring a couple of slices not a full order.

        I have been to AYCE places where the servers just begin bringing items if you don't specify what you want right off the bat. When that happens, I tend to find that the cheaper meats are brought out first. But I don't know if that is to get people to cry uncle before getting to more expensive items or because restaurants assume diners are more likely to prefer the more-familiar kalbi to things like octopus and pork neck.

        1. re: Jwsel

          I did ask if I could just get a smaller portion of some dishes, since we were getting full, but the waitress said that the servings is sized for the whole table. So I couldn't just get a one-person serving of pork neck meat after we finally did finish the rib meat, and we didn't want to risk getting charged for not finishing a full plate of pork neck meat.

        2. re: blimpbinge

          Everything did come out on one plate. Of the stuff I ordered, 1 strip of pork belly per person was probably standard, and that's what we got. Portions of calf intestine and baby octopus was rather skimpy, but that's fine as the kids wouldn't have eaten much of them. Portion of rib meat dominated the plate.

          LOL on hiding the meat (double-LOL on the innuendo).

        3. i used to go there frequently, however, music is on the loud side and too many "birthdays" going on.

          but before they got super popular, (more koreans than non korean,) service is awesome as their meat.

          perhaps OP was not clear ordering or new server or just wrong order to table.

          i never got a wrong order when i went there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: miteymike

            I was fairly clear ordering, and none of the items I got could be mistaken for galbi or bulgogi (pork, octopus, closest would have been the calf intestines, but those were all brought out accurately). And, if you recall, the waitress mentioned bringing it out by accident and offered to take it away.,

          2. the seasoned rib meat, which i'm assuming was kalbi rather than bulgogi, is one of the more expensive meats at kbbq places so i doubt that they were trying to fill you on cheap meats.

            now that you've been once, it'll give you an excuse to go to a second one and try different items.

            2 Replies
            1. re: cdub

              I think you're right about it being kalbi, as it was long, solid strips of meat, not think and shredded like bulgogi usually is. And that was something that I turned over in my head, as I didn't think kalbi was a cheap meat either.

              1. re: cdub

                This. Kalbi is usually the most expensive item on a kbbq menu, esp the long strips which takes a decent amount of knifework.

                I doubt any part of a pig or squid costs more than short rib meat unless it's best quality pork vs. USDA Select.

              2. Argh, CH kept eating my individual replies on my iPhone because apparently I got logged out, but there was no warning that I needed to log in. Will respond individually (again) later but thanks all for chiming in.