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Sunday
Jan152012

Seoul Chako

I’m going to be a regular at Seoul Chako. I just know it. Dark and spacious, this all-you-can-eat, do-it-yourself Korean BBQ joint is one of the latest additions to the downtown district. With a fire grill built in the table and a spread of colorful raw items covering every inch of space, it’s a good change of pace from whatever’s available in the area.

The lineup gathers appetizers, cold dishes, random sushi, meat, seafood, vegetables and desserts. $23.99 weekend dinners unlock everything on the menu, weeknight dinners go for $21.99 and cover most of the menu, but you can get a limited yet respectable lunch on weekdays for $13.99 and weekends for $14.99. Each individual serving contains 2-4 pieces but things quickly add up. If you don’t pace yourself, there’s a $1 charge for every leftover piece.

Let’s say the appetizers and cold dishes make up the Banchan. Pick and choose from both categories to create your own set of small side dishes to eat with the meal. I like the (wakame) seaweed salad (dinner only) a lot. It’s firm jelly-like strings boast the right balance of sweet and sour. The tongue-tickling kimchi is a tad too salty but I don’t know how to eat a Korean meal without it. Good or bad, it has to be on the table. And, I’ll be getting cold tofu, bean sprout salad, pickled radish and white rice at my future visits. I really don’t care for the rest.

All meat is infused with the same sugar-soy-chili marinade and if you don’t overcook, they turn out tasty and delightfully juicy. There’s a decent selection to choose from and you can keep your favorites coming. There’s no shame in abusing the system, like me, you might even get to the point where everything starts to taste the same. Still, no complaints here. My must-haves include pork, lamb (weekends only) and beef short ribs. They’re good, the last one especially.

Don’t throw everything in at once, be patient and lay each piece in a single layer. Watch them brown and char. Listen to them sizzle. The intoxicating meaty, smoky aroma will have you drooling instantly. The beef short ribs are cut thick and they take the longest to cook, but everything else is thinly sliced and ready in no time. Remember to use two separate tongs to handle raw and cooked meat. No one likes food poisoning.

I love seafood but it’s not the main attraction. There’s not much of it on the menu and most of it is unseasoned and very plain. If you don’t mind peeling and beheading, load up on shrimp (dinner only) because they taste good even at their bare minimum. Salmon is okay too. Switch it up with vegetables if you need a break from meat. Zucchini, onions, green peppers and mushrooms top my list. I like sweet potato and pumpkin too but they take forever to cook.

Seoul Chako just opened and there’s already so much they can do to be better. Dipping sauces, they need legit dipping sauces. Everything except for the meat isn’t marinated, and some extra oomph would seriously do them good. There’s a bottle of soy sauce and really runny BBQ sauce on the table, but what am I supposed to do with that? They need a good ventilation system because the smell of raw meat and fish, and smoke linger in the air. An effective way to take people’s order, like a check off list, would be a major turn on. It’s a lot easier to mark down what you want instead of passing the word along to someone who’ll forget to bring you what you ordered. On that note, service is whack and maybe a deal breaker for some. Sure they smile, but they’re not around when you need them. Keep circulating guys, please.

Yes, Seoul Chako is flawed but I can deal. And I’d be happy to too. I just have to be in the right mood. I wouldn’t step foot in here if I was dead hungry or in a rush. You have to cook a little while you eat a little. Three hours in and I’d still be hungry, know what I mean? It’s not the place for authentic Korean meals either; they serve sushi for crying out loud. But, the food is fresh and the all-you-can-eat, do-it-yourself Korean BBQ they’ve got going on is a much-loved concept I welcome with open arms…and a large appetite.

 

Seoul Chako

1824 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest | map

(514) 989-8886

Seoul Chako on Urbanspoon

Reader Comments (6)

How do you think this compares to Tian Xia on bishop street at least taste-wise for the meat? From the sounds of it Tian Xia seems like it's better run although this Seoul Chako place looks like it offers more raw meat selection.

I know at Tian Xia they include dipping sauces (including a bowl of cumin seeds) to dunk your cooked meats in. The grills they use are different (they occupy a rectangular space with heating elements on the two long sides). They have mini versions of cooked food like bibimbap, pajeon and kimchi noodles. They don't charge extra for lettuce. They're all you can eat price includes soft drinks too. They have order sheets on paper that you can fill out.

January 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Hey Josh, I can't say, I've never been to Tian Xia let alone heard of it. But thanks for putting it on my radar! I'll let you know as soon as I get a chance to check it out.

January 23, 2012 | Registered CommenterThis is Why We're Fat

Seoul Chako is going to be my Saturday afternoon hangover destination place this week. Great blog!

February 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMira

I tried it during the day and oh my.... it's a place for people who enjoy food but aren't as enthusiastic. I read your review beforehand just to reassure myself that it would be worth the try but I was wrong. It's a go-to place when everything else fails and all your favorite places are fully packed or too far. Also, the vibe with the bright lights from the bar place or the lighting just screams RESTOBAR. If I'm eating something as homely then I would rather prefer a different setting. The taste was just not there. I was expecting some spectacular flavors from the meat but rather too dry and makes it worst when you bbq it. I wish they were properly marinated. I get the concept of eat all you can but it would be great to also know the quantity as you order. The sushi doesn't makeup for anything at all. The 1$ charge/pc if you don't finish it is lame because how can you know how much you'll be eating if the quantity is not written. So far the best place I have ever been to if it concerns Korean BBQ called Shabu Shabu Korean BBQ in Lachine/NDG a couple of stops after Metro Vendome. The beef is marinated well, I felt the authenticness in the marinade of the beef, and all those side dishes? OH lord, for the price of beef for one person is 12.95 and not eat all you can but it's quality and wonderful service. I suggest you check out Shabu Shabu Korean BBQ. It has traditional Korean dishes and 5 stars on the taste.

here's the link to their site: http://www.koreanbbqmontreal.com/

Please don't hesitate to tell me what you think because I'd really love to hear your input.

P.S. I wish we had more food trucks.

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Thanks for sharing your honest opinion Rose. I really do enjoy hearing about other people's experiences! I'll add Shabu Shabu to the list! I'm always up for Korean BBQ!

P.S. I couldn't agree with you more on the food truck situation. It really needs to be legalized STAT!

February 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterThis is Why We're Fat

Worst restaurant ever in Montreal, food is oily and not fresh, the only thing worse than the food is the service, awful, awful and awful! If you hate your friends, bring them to this restaurant!

PS. because they know their service is very awful, so they put a mandatory 15% tip in the bill before tax, which means, you will pay about 22.5% tip and 22.5% tax, this is really insane!!!

One last word, if you love your friend, never go there!

September 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermatt

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