It finally happened, we now have a Korean BBQ restaurant in Roseville. As far as I know the only other one in the area was Oz Korean BBQ at Bradshaw & 50, which is not exactly a convenient location coming from here. Because of that I’ve not had as much of it as I would like.
My first experience with Korean BBQ was actually in Korea about 3 years ago. I traveled to visit a friend who was there teaching english and had Korean BBQ the very first night. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least. The table was full of little plates and the owner was constantly coming by to add more fresh seafood to the grill in the center of all the clutter. It was also that night that I realized I would either learn how to use chopsticks or starve. Then there was the “fresh” baby octopus. Here are photos from a few different meals on that trip.
Anyway, since then I’ve mostly only been to Korean places in the bay area, particularly a buffet called Palace BBQ Buffet in Sunnyvale, which is awesome because this type of food can get expensive fast. So as I mentioned we finally have one close by. Iron Grill Korean BBQ is located in the Rocky Ridge Town Center across from Kaiser on Douglas. In addition to to the normal Korean selections they also have a large selection of sushi, including sashimi, nigiri, and rolls. It’s a good sized restaurant that take up two of the smaller units. About one-half to two-thirds of the dining room is set up for table-top grilling. The rest are normal tables and they also have a sushi bar.
I came for lunch with a couple of friends last weekend on a Saturday and we were seated at a table with a grill since we knew we’d be ordering from that side of the menu. The staff was extremely attentive while we looked over the menu. Since most of my Korean BBQ experience involved either someone else ordering or serve yourself buffet style, it took a while to carefully go over the menu and figure out what we should get. During this time at least two servers checked on us numerous times (one of my friends was actually a little annoyed by this, I didn’t mind though). Before we had ordered, a complimentary roll was served to us. I’m not sure if this is a standard thing here or just something they are doing since they are new, but it was a nice touch. It was a mostly crab filled roll, so probably a California roll of some variety. It was simple but well made, and a tasty appetizer.
Eventually we had made up our minds and a server was right there moments later. We ordered from the dinner menu and chose three items from the table top BBQ section. Galbee [(beef short ribs) Our famous short ribs marinated for 36 hours with soy sauce], Bulgogi [Thinly sliced ribeye marinated in special sauce] & Spicy Pork [Sliced pork with our chili pepper paste marinade (available non spicy)].
Before the meat came out we were each served a small salad which was very fresh, green and crisp. I don’t recall what the dressing was but I do remember liking it. As we were finishing those up, the side dishes, or banchan, were being served. There was about a five or so minute gap between this and the main meats arriving, so we had time to explore the four small dishes. The first and most recognizable one was kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage – a generalization, there seem to be limitless variations out there). I’ve never been really into the idea of kimchi just based on what it is. However, I decided that since millions of people regularly enjoy and look forward to it, I can at least give it a fair shot now and then. I had just a couple bites of this kimchi. I’m still convinced it’s an acquired taste, one that I have not acquired yet. I didn’t think it was bad though, so that’s something I guess. I’ll keep at it.
The next one was some type of sprouts, which after a little searching and comparing online I’ve decided was a type of bean sprouts. These were good and pretty much what you might expect of bean sprouts. The next two dishes were much harder to identify. In fact, I still have no idea what they were (yes, I probably should have just asked while I was there) so if you do, please leave me a comment! My friends decided that one of them was a kind of thinly sliced potatoes in a sauce. The other was seriously from another planet. They were the lightest, most colorless noodle-looking things I’ve seen, and the texture was even more bizarre. Instead of a crunch, they seemed to “pop” between your teeth. They didn’t have much if any flavor, but they were so fascinating that I probably ate more of these than anything else.
On came the main course. Our server brought the three meats on a large, nicely garnished platter and placed the first round on the grill for us. He placed the galbee and bulgogi as well as some onions, jalapeños and mushrooms. During this and while I was taking photos, a man who I’m assuming was either the manager, owner or both, came by to watch for a moment. Probably to make sure everything was going smoothly. Our server suggested we do the spicy pork last as the marinade tends to stick to the grill and can apply itself to anything put on after. We enjoyed watching the meats sizzle for a few minutes before he came back to give them all a turn and cut them with scissors into more manageable, bite sized pieces. Eventually we were all picking bits of meat from the grill and going to town. Each one was super flavorful and tender. The bulgogi and spicy pork were my favorites, although I also very much enjoyed the galbee. There’s something special about eating right off the grill which is also why I love teppanyaki style restaurants like Benihana as well. For the most part we were left on our own to cook the rest of the meats, which I enjoy a lot. I’m pretty certain they would have been more than happy to handle all of it if we asked though. I’ve had that type of service at other places before.
My friends seemed to generally enjoy the meal, but they definitely weren’t as happy with it overall as I was. I just enjoy the experience so much because it’s so much different than anything else. The smells and sounds of food cooking just a foot from you is fantastic, and it’s worth the price in my opinion. I don’t recall the subtotal, but after tip I think we spent around $60 altogether, which really isn’t that bad. I’ll definitely be back.
I asked the server if they had a website, and he seemed certain they did but was unable to point me to an address aside from telling me to Google it or find it through a link on Yelp, which I was unable to do. I’m not convinced they have one… If you do and you’re reading this, please prove me wrong.
See below for a link to the menu that I scanned.
Scanned Menu: Click Here