Ginseng Restaurant, Edmonton

Last month, a group of friends and I headed out for some Korean BBQ. Ginseng Restaurant specializes in an all-you-can-eat, cook-it-yourself BBQ buffet.

buffet table

buffet table

About half of the buffet has a variety of marinated raw chicken, beef and pork, as well as seafood such as shrimp, mussels, clams and squid. The other half has cooked food such as rice, noodles, tempura, kimchee,  tofu stir-fry, etc.

pre-cooked food and fruit

pre-cooked food and fruit

Each table has a built-in grill set in the middle. You’re given tongs to use to cook your food, and away you go! The metal grill plate gets covered with blackened fats quite quickly, and a waitress came by often to replace our grill plate with a clean, newly oiled version.

grill and raw food

grill and raw food

I was happy with the variety that Ginseng offers on their buffet table. The marinated meats ranged from mild to spicy, and the cuts weren’t too bad. I liked that they cut up vegetables for the grill as well.

If you go, go early as the place fills up quickly. Also, be aware that you will walk out of the place reeking of meat and smoke. There are giant vents over each table (like those that you would find over a stove), but it didn’t seem like the restaurant actually turned them on. The room had a visible haze of cooking smoke by the end of our meal. It also probably didn’t help that the table behind us kept burning their food. All of us smelled like meat for the rest of the evening.

The buffet costs $29 per person and  includes non-alcoholic drinks, but not dessert other than the fruit that is on the buffet table. The restaurant also has a regular menu, but everyone there seemed to eat from the buffet.

Ginseng Restaurant
9261 – 34 Avenue
Edmonton, AB

Ginseng Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sushi BBQ Inn, Calgary

Back in July, I made a visit to Calgary where a friend took me to the Sushi BBQ Inn, an all-you-can-eat Korean and Japanese restaurant. Located in a strip mall on an extremely busy major street in the city, the restaurant is decorated with a vaguely Japanese look made up of Asian decorations and screens. Each table has a built-in gas grill where you cook your own food. Menu items are a mixed of cooked and raw foods, including Korean BBQ seasoned meats, vegetables, soup, dessert, sushi and sashimi.

My friend does not like raw fish so I, being greedy for all things sushi and sashimi, ate most of that. The fish quality was fine, but cut thinly and was not memorable. The sushi were typical rolls and I would probably not order them again. My memory is a bit hazy but I believe there were only cooked items inside the rolls. The meat was sliced thinly, probably for fast cooking but possibly also so that you didn’t use up so much meat. It was seasoned well, but it didn’t taste like the Korean BBQ that I am used to. Something in the flavour was missing, and I’m not sure what it was.

Food on the grill

Food on the grill

I ordered some salmon to grill, and was a little disappointed but not surprised to receive a plate of those bits of salmon that they couldn’t use for sashimi.

Salmon ready for the grill

Salmon ready for the grill

I was interested to see a few desserts  included on the all-you-can-eat menu, and we ordered a plate of red bean spring rolls. They looked great, but were ultimately too greasy.

Red bean spring rolls

Red bean spring rolls

Like most all-you-can-eat restaurants, you get what you pay for. Some places are a better value than others. In this case, I would say some menu items are definitely better than others. My suggestion is to stick to the food items that you cook for yourself, as well as maybe the miso soup and sashimi. Forget about the desserts and fill up on fish and meat.

Sushi BBQ Inn
1226 16 Avenue NW
Calgary, Alberta

Sushi BBQ Inn on Urbanspoon