A feast for the senses

Ali Carte Columns

December 21, 2014

Story By: Ali Resich | Photos by: Nathalie Walker

When it comes to Korean yakiniku dining, we can all relate to the temptation of those bewitching savory, sweet and spicy aromas that flow into the air from table-top grills sizzling away with fresh meats. One whiff, and you’ve got a craving to satisfy! Am I right?

At Seoul Garden Yakiniku, one of Honolulu’s most frequented Korean restaurants, manager Sarah Kim says the yakiniku is so popular that these fiery scents can even be smelt from outside its doors, successfully luring patrons into the oasis of succulent fare. A little more than 10 years old, the eatery is known for its high-quality and affordable all-you-can-eat yakiniku sets, as well as for the top-notch service and value owner Yun Hee Im provides to her patrons.

According to Kim, Seoul Garden’s meat selections stand out because of their exquisite seasonings. The restaurant’s chefs have mastered the art of delicately balancing flavors for irresistible marinades and spice combinations that make all the difference in the final taste of the meats.

This has kept carnivorous customers coming back year after year, especially for offerings such as Combination Meat ($44.95; for two people) — an edible ode to beef lovers everywhere. The ready-to-grill platter presents ample fresh brisket, tongue, kalbi and the inner part of short ribs. The kitchen’s adept handling of the meat ensures each piece’s natural flavors shine through, and Kim says diners may request a traditional sauce composed of sesame oil, salt and pepper to dip the meat into, on the side, for an extra layer of goodness.

A variety of complimentary banchan (side dishes) also heightens the yum factor. “The side dishes are special, too, because the chefs use a lot of different spices,” explains Kim. “Each Korean restaurant has different side dishes, but this restaurant’s banchan has a very special taste. Everybody likes it — it’s a little bit stronger than other places.” Accent each bite with kim chee, mushrooms, choy sum, kkakdugi, bean sprouts or potatoes marinated in a devilishly sweet marinade, among other options.

Additionally, Seoul Garden boasts authentic Korean dishes to supplement the grilling experience. Stone Pot Bi Bim Bap ($16.95) is one crowd-pleaser, complete with a healthy and well-balanced mix of bulgogi, egg and a plethora of veggies placed on a bed of rice. The dish is served on a hot stone, and patrons may customize the spice level.

So the next time an aromatic waft floats past you, succumb to your senses and head to Seoul Garden.

Seoul Garden Yakiniku

1679 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu
944-4803
Daily, 10 a.m.-midnight

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