There is a new Korean barbecue restaurant creating quite a stir in Richmond. Jjang has taken up the old home of the Korean barbecue experience before it, inserting their branding and theme of grill and chill into the space. And it seems to be working, as seen by the continuous lines out the door and the crowd gathering past 10pm on weekends.
Jjang is currently in their soft opening phase, running their operations and working out any kinks before their grand opening on October 1st. And from now until then, they are offering 10% off to customers willing to give them a try.
As per standard for most Korean barbecue spots, tables are equipped with vents above, and all smoke is sucked back down into the table where the heating apparatus and coil is located. So, despite the constant cooking of all the tables within, the air isn’t smokey and everything around it isn’t greasy. And if you or your clothes do end up capturing any additional odours, you can utilize their cleaning machine up front. A free blast of fragranced steam to refresh and re-scent.
I can definitely see myself spending extended time in this clean and vibrant environment, with metallic bar and party vibes; that is if they will have you. There are time limits to tables, given their crowds, so it is best to reserve one of their party rooms for your larger group’s extended grill and chill.
Today we were trying a series of their barbecue items as recommended by the restaurant, meats all plated with intent to be self-cooked at your table by you. You start with the pork first and that is the first meat to come to the table. After that the used grill pan is swapped out for a clean one, before you move on to cooking beef. And any time you need or want a new grill they will swap it out for you, you only need ask. The wait staff are some of the most attentive, they will guide you in the cooking process, and always ask to regularly remove any empty dishes from your table. We noticed immediately, and were impressed.
Starting with the pork belly, you place your meat down on the slotted side of the grill. It takes in more heat and the meat cooks quicker. Once cooked you move it to the covered side to continue simmering. Be sure to watch your meat attentively in order to not overcook anything. You are paying premium prices for some of the premium cuts, and you only have yourself to blame if it does not come out the way you want it. We were advised 8 minutes on each side for a crispier belly.
Once seared golden with the char, you can use the provided kitchen shears the cut the large piece down to sharing slices. And either dip it into the sides of sauces provided or make it into a lettuce wrap with a spicy tangy sauce, jalapeno, and raw garlic. The thick cut pork belly was not my favourite and our table found that we much more preferred the rest of our beef selection below.
I won’t be going into how each cooked and tasted, as it is dependent on who at your table is tending to the grill. But I will provide some points that I noted.
The Special beef belly cooks quick as it is sliced thin like hot pot meat. Once on a hot grill, 8 seconds tops on each side. It goes from pink to brown in a blink of an eye, and if you aren’t babysitting it, you are wasting it.
I liked the bamboo basket presentation of the Beef short rib. You judge its readiness based on its colouring. These were the fattiest pieces of beef we had based on the marbling and it came through in the flavouring of it as well.
A few of the beef items are seasoned and marinated, but for the most part I didn’t find a need for the trio of dips/sauce provided for individual use. Like with the Black pepper beef cubes that were tender blocks seasoned in a soy marinade with plenty of black pepper. It is advised that you gingerly place each block on the grill and not pour the serving directly on to the grill plate to avoid any access burning from the marinade, thus resulting in an acrid flavour.
The Beef rib was impressively sliced and dressed in crushed garlic. I did not get much garlic flavour from this one and found the meat on the tougher side.
As for accompaniments to our barbecue, I enjoyed the flavourful Pork back bone soup with its fall of the bone meat, should you take the time to eat around it. There isn’t a lot of soup, it is more for the pork and the potatoes you are after.
The Seafood soup is a spicy mix of shrimp, mussels, squid, button mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, and egg tofu; topped with a raw egg left to slowly cook in the still steaming soup. Super tasty, a flavour I would crave again. Be warned it does grow in heat the more you eat.
The Seafood pancake was as expected plenty of dough and leeks, with a scattering of chewy seafood pieces. Best enjoyed crispy, and with a dip into their tasty salty and sweet sauce.
And of course you also get the traditional, complimentary Korean sides. Here it is marinaded soy bean sprouts, sweet chilled potato, and kimchi.
And seeing as they have the bar for it, Jjang has quite an extensive selection of alcoholic beverages including champagne by the bottle, beer presented in a self-serve tap and tower, colourful shots, and cocktails dressed in to catch your attention.
They also do classics like this Cuba Libre with rum, lemon, and coke.
Their beer by the pint comes topped with a crushed lemon ice, a nice play on a slushie, and a fun way to add a hint of citrus to your brew. Be warned it does melt fast, so you need to drink faster.
All their cocktails can be made into mocktails like this Choco-Nut-Tee that normally has khalua, vodka, chocolate and coconut milk. But if you order it virgin it comes with a shot of espresso that you pour over chocolate milk and stir up with marshmallows, to essentially make a latte instead.
In conclusion, a new spot for solid Korean style barbecue served by attentive staff in a setting designed to elicit a more party vibe.
JJang Korean BBQ and Social House
5668 Hollybridge Way #115, Richmond, BC V7C 4N3