Richmond Hill, ON
In her opinion:
Edgar was lucky enough to win a contact on Twitter being run by Justine or @foodigatorJ for dinner for two at the only North American location of Bulgogi Brothers. So after a month of determining when to go we finally choose a Sunday afternoon. This restaurant is located in a really up and coming area for restaurants in Richmond Hill. We had enough time to drive around and notice a lot of different places that we don't have in our region.
When we arrived at the restaurant we were greeted by a very friendly manager, Brandon Lee who was waiting for our visit. He showed us to a booth at then proceeded to go over the menu in minuscule detail with us. He also explained the history of the Bulgogi Brothers. He explained that bulgogi means fire meat or grilled meat.
As part of the contest we needed to pick a starter, a Jjigae (Korean stew) and Naengmyeon (Korean noodle) to go along with Noon Kkotdeungsim Modeum Gui (a combination plate of ribeye, heart shaped Unyang and marinated short rib).
After careful consideration we picked the following -
Starter: Haemul Gungjung Mandu or fried dumpling with seafood (mussels, shrimp and squid) in BB spicy sauce.
Jjigae: Chadol Daenjang-Jjigae or fermented soybean stew with beef brisket and vegetables. Served with rice.
Naengmyeon: Naengmyeon Brothers which is a combination of Mul-naengmyeon or cold noodles served in a tangy iced broth served with beef and a boiled egg and Bibim-naengmyeon or cold noodles served in BB signature hot spicy sauce served with beef and a boiled egg.
After our choices were made, Brandon brought us over 3 different Ades to try - Plum Ade, Blackberry Ade and Honey Lemon Citrus Ade. These are carbonated drinks made with carbonated water and the pulp of Korean plums, blackberries and a citrus fruit. We were also served Corn Tea. This is meant to be drunk cold but was served hot. It was very tasty.
Our attentive wait staff who were helping Brandon, brought out a snack or amuse bouche of Korean corn and edamame or soybeans. Very good. This was followed by a delicious sweet potato soup. Our starter also came out at this time. The Haemul Gungjung Mandu was excellent. Brandon had informed us that he has a group of Korean grandmothers in the kitchen making the dumplings by hand. They were delicious fried golden brown. The seafood topping was an excellent combination of seafood and veggies. Brandon had told us to combine all the flavours when you ate...so I dipped my dumpling in the spicy sauce and added seafood to each bite. This was truly delectable.
Side dishes and sauces were then brought out for us to enjoy with the BBQ There were 6 side dishes and they consisted of pickled parsley, white kimchi, kimchi, braised lotus root, butternut squash salad and Korean peppers. The sauces consisted of sesame salt from Korea, hot sauce and spicy bean paste. We were also given a basket of lettuce leaves with cucumber and carrots. The lettuce leaves were to be used to wrap the beef in with the delicious spicy bean paste.
We had the honour of being served by Brandon, who barbecued the Noon Kkotdeungsim Modeum Gui or B9 for us. We started with the Noon Kkotdeungsim or ribeye, then this was followed with the heart shaped Unyang bulgogi and finally the Yangnyeom or marinated short ribs. This also comes with mushrooms, sweet potato and onions which are grilled first.
Let me begin by saying that the meat is out of this world good. The ribeye is absolutely delicious and tastes fantastic when dipped in the sesame salt. The Unyang bulgogi is very delicious. There is a sweetness to this meat and it works well with the spicy sauce. Finally the marinated short ribs were very tasty as well. We tried wrapping the Unyang in the lettuce like Brandon suggested with a little of the spicy bean paste. It was very refreshing.
To end our meal, Brandon brought out dessert...melon ice cream from Korea. So incredibly light and tasty. I thought it was a great way to end the meal.
We were treated like gold by Bulgogi Brothers and Brandon. Thanks to Justine for suggesting the contest to Brandon. I will return again when I am craving delicious meat or an those out of this world dumplings...
In his opinion:
The first interesting fact about Bulgogi Brothers is that the very first of the now 36 locations, was opened in Gang Nam (some of you might know its "style") from the PSY hit song. From Seoul, Korea to the Philippines and now Canada, this franchise is a proven household name for Korean cuisine.
Bulgogi actually means "fire meat" in Korean and represents marinated barbeque meat and Gogigui or "meat roasting", the popular Korean way of grilling meat.
As I entered the Bulgogi Brothers location in Richmond Hill, my first thought was that it didn't look like the usual Korean BBQ places that seem to be popping up everywhere. The look and feel is slightly upscale, inviting, very clean and with a wonderful ambiance that sets the mood for the meal to come.
The reason it doesn't look or feel like your typical Korean BBQ is because, it really isn't a Korean BBQ type of place per say. No all you can eat and surely no secondary grades of meat is found here. It is instead a moderately priced, Korean Franchise that more resembles a steak house than a traditional Korean BBQ. Sure there are burners at the tables and some items on the menu might substantiate the preconceived notion, but the food and service does indeed dispel it.
We were greeted by the manager Brandon Lee (no relation to the actor) that immediately made us feel welcome and proceeded to explain in rigorous detail the menu and the history of the Bulgogi Brothers restaurants and their owners. He was extremely helpful in guiding us relative novices in the Korean food scene through the options and making suggestions along the way.
Without attempting to repeat our choices that were already well explained above , I will instead highlight some of my favourite parts of this dining experience.
Aside from the wonderful corn tea provided, we were presented with 3 different fruit ades, Korean blackberry ade, honey lemon citrus ade and Korean plum ade (very popular with kids I was told). I must be a kid at heart because the plum ade was my favourite and the blackberry a close second.
First dishes were the creamy sweet potato soup that was so tasty that I could eat it all day, and also an amuse bouche consisting of Korean corn and edamame which was very savoury. The corn is actually dried and then boiled, keeping its taste but giving a more rigid outside to the corn.
Next, we were served our appetizer, the Haemul Gungjung Madu. These hand made dumplings were amazing and one of the highlights of the meal. We were to combine the dumplings with the seafood topping and spicy sauces to achieve maximum flavour and it all works very well together.
For the first meat dish, we were given 6 side dishes and 3 sauces for the meat. I will highlight the provision of lettuce to be used to wrap the meat. A new concept for me but one that I would learn to love with every bite. Who knew that lettuce wrapped meat was so tasty and why didn't I think of this myself earlier? I can assure you that lettuce will be a part of BBQ season at my house from now on.
The BBQing done in the "fire pit" in our table was performed by Brandon himself and one could easily identify the great cuts of meat being used. The ribeye was top notch, incredibly tasty and a "melt in your mouth" type of cut. Dip it in the sesame salt and you have a clear winner. The heart shaped Unyang was next on the grill and was incredibly delectable as well, but a better match to the lettuce wrapping I spoke of earlier. Lastly, the short ribs were on the grill along with the mushrooms, onions and sweet potato slices. The grilling process is very meticulous and was well demonstrated by Brandon.
Truth be told, I was pretty full and satisfied by this point but for my surprise we were not done quite yet. Brandon served us with two cold noodle dishes next, Jjigae and Naengmyeon
The Jjigae was very tasty and the best of the two. My palate didn't agree with the spices of the Naengmyeon, they were too much for me but full of flavour nevertheless.
For dessert we were treated to Korean imported melon ice cream. I understand that it is a very dedicated type of dessert, only found in the Canadian location and it is extremely tasty and creamy.
The Good: Expect top notch meat and incredible service at this North American flagship eatery
The Bad: Way too much food for one sitting (not exactly a bad thing I suppose)
The Verdict: Upscale Korean cuisine is the definition of this restaurant, so please do not expect the all you can eat Korean BBQ style that other places offer.
A must return type of place that gave us excellent service and even better food.
Thanks to Justine @fodigator for selecting me as the winner of the Bulgogi Brothers dinner contest and thanks to Brandon the Manager, for the great hospitality and knowledge.
I give Bulgogi Brothers a 3 1/2 olives out of 5 as rating