Okay, we have dined at several Korean/Japanese budget barbecue grill type restaurants since the trend started a few years ago.
Because of that, friends and readers have been asking me about the different places we’ve tried and which is the best. We usually go for the “unli” type, because that’s also what most people go for, and it’s usually the most popular option.
Anyway, I’m going to summarize our experiences at each of the restaurants I’ve tried and, if I have a review, I’ll link to it so you can read more about the restaurant. I will update this blog post if we try another restaurant that we can add to the list 🙂
Sodam – what can I say? This one is really the most value-for-money Korean bbq grill restaurant. For around P300+ you get unlimited slices of beef and pork for grilling, plus, a wide variety of real food (not just side dishes) at the buffet, which includes soups with actual meat, bulgogi, noodles, chicken, fish, kimchi, lettuce, pajeon (Korean pancakes), make-your-own bibimbap, etc… Eto na yung pinakasulit. Unfortunately, it’s so popular that you need to reserve seats in advance! If you walk-in, they might not be able to accommodate you, or you might have to wait 2-3 hours for a table! Ambiance and cleanliness level: medium. Not bad, but not great, either.
Best Balance and Best Ambience
Mitasu Yakiniku – only P488 and includes beef, pork, chicken, and sausage for grilling! It’s a good variety of meats. Also includes soup, side dishes, drinks and dessert! Complete meal na. Also very sulit! The place looks nice & clean, the service is good, the grills are smokeless. If you like more variety to grill, this one is a place I would recommend. They also have free parking available. My only problem with it is that it is Japanese, and I miss having doenjiang! They have yakiniku sauce but no doenjiang (the salty brown bean sauce) and sesame oil. Ambiance and cleanliness level: good.
Open Late, Most Variety of Meat Flavors, But Not the Cleanest
Samgyupsalamat – I don’t know if it was just this branch that we went to, but it was not that clean. The meats in the slicing station were just there on the slicing station, I could also see plastic tubs (batya) with dirty plates and plastic pitchers with the marinades, which doesn’t inspire confidence in the cleanliness. Cross-contamination of the raw meats with things that should not touch raw meat is a worry. What’s good though is that there are different flavors of the meats, 9-10 kinds in all. Masarap naman ang timpla, if you can ignore the hygiene issues. Make sure to cook the meats really well. Just FYI that some people have reported getting tummy aches after. They are also open until 2AM! But the waiting time is also really long because it’s a very popular chain. When we went there on a Saturday, we waited for almost 2 hours before we got a table. Would we go back? Not sure. I like the variety of meats, flavors are okay for the price, and I like that they use charcoal. But the sanitation issues bother me. Ambiance and cleanliness level: low.
Best Side Dishes & Best Service
Jin Joo – I happily asked for refills of their side dishes because they were actually delicious, unlike other places where the side dishes are supplied “para lang masabing may side dishes”. The samgyupsal was meaty and of good quality, better than I expected compared to other unli-grill places. Unfortunately, samgyupsal is all the meat you get and it can get pretty boring fast. You can order other meat from their a la carte menu if you wish. Service is prompt, often we don’t even have to call our waitress’s attention because she notices the empty plates and asks if we want a refill. Ambiance and cleanliness level: good. Service: good.
Has Potential But Needs Improvement
All4U – I’ve seen videos where the Korean owner seems really passionate about his organic soup for improving one’s health. However, it just doesn’t translate. When we dined at All4U Century City Mall, it felt like the staff were just churning out the meats and the dishes for a mass feeding, walang pakialam at all. It doesn’t feel like we were dining at a Korean restaurant. It felt like a factory pushing out plates of food that waiters just dropped in front of us without a care. Like customers were just faceless mannequins that plates had to be placed in front of. It’s a shame because in concept, the organic soup thing seemed great. Unfortunately, the staff couldn’t tell us anything about it. Deadma. Shrug. Hygiene is also very bad: read my post where I noticed the cross-contamination from raw pork to the lettuce. This place is also the only one we’ve been to so far that includes shrimp with the unli offerings. The grill takes too long to grill things. Ambiance and cleanliness level: low. Service: poor.
Shabu-Shabu Ichiban – this is Shabu-Shabu and not really a grill, but since it’s the rainy season now, it’s nice to have hot soup instead of always grilling 🙂 It’s also healthier. This is actually what I feel like eating right now as I’m writing this article, because it’s raining hard and I really want some hotpot to warm me up! They have a good variety of dishes included in their unli-sets, price starts at P488/person. Ambiance and cleanliness level: good.
Is there a place you want to recommend for us to try next time? Please let us know in the comments! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!