Food Travels

Why I Hated My First Korean Barbecue: #AITKitchenInHK: Day 3

Back at home a few hours later, we were having dim sum with some relatives; treats included beef Cheung fun which is a rolled rice flour roll, cha siu rice, walnut Malaysian sponge cake and this duck egg custard bun which had a black sesame swirl.

We also went shopping in Sha Tin where we visited a few of the bakeries (but didn’t buy anything!) and I saw these Reeses Peanut Butter Chips which I’d never seen before. I started to immediately think of all of the recipes that could use these, the first of which was my Chocolate Chunk Cookies!


 But now to the Korean barbecue. I would like to preface this section by firstly stating that I am a huge fan of Korean cuisine. I love the spicy and punchy qualities of the cuisine from Kimchi to toppoki. It’s also pretty exciting now that it is on trend. It’s pretty clear cut that I was excited for tonight.

Yet I was thoroughly disappointed.

It wasn’t the cooking on the table that I minded, it’s quite a novel idea and it’s a fantastic way of socialising with friends over food. But being completely new to Korean BBQing, our pan looked completely burnt after just a few pieces of meat. We were then told that we were supposed to take a thin piece of oiled meat and brush it around the BBQ to prepare it. We were clearly new to the cuisine yet the staff didn’t tell us about this. So our pan was changed much more frequently than others, and there was a clear distinctive black layer.

Then it came to getting the banchan (side dishes such as kimchi, cooked vegetables etc) and the meats. From what I knew about BBQ, you ordered weights of meat and banchan and lettuce leaves were given to you immediately. But in this restaurant, you had to get it all yourself, including desserts and drinks, in a buffet style. It was here within that I had problems.

Being allergic to fish and seafood, I was alarmed that there were only 3 tongs to grab the banchan, which included kimchi, beansprouts, bok choi and fried fish. It was clear that the same tongs has been used to grab fish and kimchi and this really put me off from eating the banchan. After a while, I saw they brought out new tongs so I went up, but I would hope that any restaurant would understand the health and safety issues about switching up the tongs on a potential allergen.

But even more concerning to me was selecting the foods to barbecue. There was an entire refrigerated section with a large selection of raw and marinaded sliced meats, seafood and vegetables. But again there was no clear utensil that was used to select each item. Tongs that picked up raw prawns may have been used to pick up the same foods that I was eating.

You may wish to call me a freak but the risk of cross contamination and food poisoning was worrying to me. Not only that, there was a risk to me that eating any of the meats could trigger my allergy.

I was extremely disappointed by the lack of health and safety controls employed by the restaurant. I know that not all Korean BBQ restaurants are like this however, but it’s enough to put me off for a while. Even so, I ate a lot of kimchi; it’s a superfood after all……!

Remember you can stay up to date with my holiday using #AITKitchenInHK!


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