Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Jung Won Korean BBQ @ G Village, Desa Pandan

This place conjures up memories of a good Korean barbecue from our past experiences at their first restaurant located in Ampang Hilir (which we have frequented more than once).  Read my earlier review here.

So, when Jung Won Korean BBQ @ G Village, Desa Pandan opened in late December 2016, we were excited that there will be another branch even closer to home.  We wasted no time and were there within its first week of operation.

From what we saw initially, it's commendable that they tried to replicate the feel of their other restaurant in Ampang Hilir by having a mini version of the watermill and pond on site.  Similar to the other place as well, they have 3 types of seating here...alfresco dining with tables and chairs or on-the-floor seating (with table top grilling) or air-conditioned dining (but with no table top grilling allowed).

We settled for alfresco seating just because seeing (and smelling) your food grilled on the table top is all part and parcel of what a BBQ dining experience should be about, right?  I soon realised it was a mistake and I'll tell you why.

1) From the get go, the proportion of the height of the tables to chairs was not ideal as the table height was too high making your dining not that comfortable.

2) The table was too small (in my opinion) to accommodate the table top BBQ pit.  It lied just a chopstick's length from the edge of the table...and we're talking Korean chopsticks which are much shorter (probably about 8 inches).  This meant we could a) feel the heat of the hot coals at our feet, b) the table felt incredibly cramped that we had to move the banchan (Korean side dishes) around each time a plate of food is brought and c) get ready to be splattered (when the grilling is on-going) because of the proximity of the grill from the table's edge.

3)  The exhaust system they use is a retractable exhaust that looked like a small cylindrical hose (that's not entirely made of metal but had parts that looked like aluminium foil).  And because of that + the fact that we were seated at the alfresco section, the fans were turned on and the exhaust hose tend to swing around slightly.  With the exhaust hovering just inches above the pit, it was a hindrance to eating especially when I wanted to reach for the plates of food or banchan across the table from me.

Though I'd usually leave the unpleasant stuff towards the end of my post, I felt it deserved to be mentioned in the beginning as the poor 'infrastructure' compromised substantially on our dining comfort by not getting us off to a very good start.

Ok, putting that aside, let's see how the food fared.  After making our orders, the sauces and condiments arrived with 8 types of banchan.

Hot coals ready for grilling :)

3 strips of pork belly right onto the grill with half an onion :)

We went with the Roast Pork Belly (Sam Gyub Sal 180g) @ RM32 remembering that we enjoyed it thoroughly the last time we had it at their Ampang outlet.

The grilling was done by a female server and this one was executed well....very fragrant and caramelised with a crisp texture on the outside! ^o^

The plated pork belly dish....notice something missing? O_o  Oh yeah, she "pandai-pandai (cleverly) discarded the lovely charred onion when she changed the grilling plate! >_<

Lettuce wrap for the pork belly

We also ordered the Kimchi Pancake (Kimchi Jeon) @ RM32, a Korean-style pancake made with chopped kimchi.

Love the dipping sauce but I think I prefer the seafood and spring onion pancake (Hae-Mul Pa Jeon) just a wee bit more.

For our second grilled item, we ordered the Roast Cuttlefish @ RM40 but the server later told us that the squid wasn't fresh and they would rather not sell it.  On the one hand, I was glad they told us about the freshness but, on the other hand, it doesn't reflect very well on them and raised a question mark as to the freshness of their produce.  In the end, I replaced it with the Marinated Roast Salmon (Yeon-eo Gu-e) @ RM40 which I also had before.

But what happened next shocked me to my core (ok, maybe not so dramatic-lah)!  Out came a piece of salmon which landed on the grill.  Nothing untoward about that, right?  Wrong!!  Coz the piece of salmon was freakin' frozen!!! >:(  I'm sorry I couldn't show you the frozen salmon (that couldn't lie flat on the grill as it had a part which bent upwards!).  I was in such a shocked state that I didn't take a photo immediately.  It may not look like that now (from the pic above) coz it has been on the grill for some time.

When I questioned the server on why it's frozen and if they always cook it from that state...he replied, "Yes, yes, it's like that."  I kept telling him that it's not possible to grill something well from a frozen state but he just pretended he didn't hear me and continued with the grilling.  Suffice to say, it took longer than expected to cook the salmon and it became overly charred because of it.  Seeing that I was obviously not happy, he said he will replace the salmon if I'm not happy with it after tasting.  I couldn't take a pic of the blackened salmon as he was standing over me waiting to see if I'd approve.  Even before I took a bite, I've already decided (in my mind) that I definitely wanted it changed.  I thought, since we're now an hour into dinner service, perhaps the kitchen is now more prepared and there would be some salmon pieces already defrosted (even if I'm still not happy that the salmon is frozen and not fresh or chilled).

Out came another piece of salmon...wait for it....yes, it was another frozen piece!!!  I knew then it would be pointless to argue further and just accepted our fate.  He was smarter this time and turned down the heat or something so that it'll cook slower without charring the salmon too much.

Though the plated salmon was better this time, it wasn't as delicate and juicy as the one I remembered from Ampang.  This one was hot on the outside but lukewarm on the inside (at least this time the onion made it on the plate!).  But then the experience was already marred by my initial displeasure of being served a piece of frozen salmon.  During this whole debacle, the scene aroused stares from people at the next table wondering what the heck was happening! @_@

Sensing my annoyance perhaps, one of the servers enquired if we eat beef as they wanted to give us a complimentary soup.  I asked for just one serving since I'm the only one who enjoys drinking soup anyway.  It was nice.

They also brought us a complimentary dessert, Korean sweet rice balls (which the other tables also received)...trying to 'sweeten' me up perhaps....nope, it's not going to work.  More so when the rice balls were hard and cold (like they've just been taken out of the refrigerator...again!).  Plus, I also have no idea why they served us this dessert in the middle of our meal.  To give it time to defrost? >:O

For my drink, I instinctively went for the Korean Ice Barley @ RM7 as I remembered being offered something like this at the end of our meal in their Ampang outlet and liking it very much.

Incidentally, we were also served a complimentary cold barley (that looked so stingy when the glass came only half-full) which I didn't mind one bit (the foc barley drink I mean, not that it was half-full) as I enjoyed the refreshing barley-with-a-hint-of-ginger immensely.

Also complimentary were these mini Mandarin oranges (as opposed to watermelon slices we got last time) to end our meal.

My Personal Opinion

Gosh, I still can't believe they actually served me frozen salmon.  I paid RM40 for this piece of salmon...I expect better....I demand better! >:(  Even if they had overstocked or couldn't manage to sell off their salmon, they could have at least gotten their mise en place ready by defrosting the salmon before service (not that I approve of it).

There didn't seem to be a manager in charge of the place when we were there.  I don't see how one can open a new restaurant and hope to succeed by leaving it in the hands of foreign workers to manage without anyone senior overseeing the place.

For those wanting to try this place still, I think it'd be best to stick to the meats like pork belly (that we had) or beef (that the next table had which at least didn't look frozen) or chicken.  Maybe meats fly off their shelves faster, so you can be guaranteed of its freshness.  If you want seafood, I suggest you ask them if they're frozen (or fresh) first before ordering!!  To say your squid is not fresh enough to be served (only one week into opening) doesn't bode well for a BBQ place that thrives on freshness of produce.  It only goes to tell me that your food is either not selling well (and you froze the leftovers) or you have a serious problem with your supply chain.  Also, I'd recommend that you sit inside (where it's air-conditioned) so that you don't have to deal with the discomfort of table top grilling + it's probably better that you don't see your food being cooked (that way you won't even know it's frozen in the first place) >.<

On hindsight, I guess we should have waited longer to allow them to get over the initial opening hiccups (I would have forgiven the poor and untrained service) but when it's the freshness of the produce that's in question, it has far more dire implications.  For me, I don't think I'll be back.....certainly not to this branch! :P

Jung Won Korean BBQ Restaurant
Lot G-09 G-Floor G-Village
No 35 Jalan 1/76 Desa Pandan
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-9202 6631


  1. I just bought a piece of salmon last week so I could guess that you paid almost double for that piece. I would scream at them if I were you. That restaurant is generous to give you 8 types of banchan which is a real delight. Now it tickles me to realise that I often got lots of complimentary plates or soups too at various Korean restaurants in the Ampang's Little Korea Hub. This also happened in Seoul where I would get free chef's special soup, dishes. fruits and even coffee! They gave me impression that businesses are too competitive in South Korea hence the sweet bribes! LOL

    1. I guess the 8 types of banchan seemed generous because they were already reflected in the prices of their mains? ;)

  2. Serving frozen salmon, that is unforgivable! I would have been upset too. Well, with the uncomfortable al fresco seating arrangement and the frozen salmon, I can understand why you will not be returning. I do hope the management makes improvements (I wonder if they are aware of these issues) or else this place won't be able to survive.

    1. I'm not sure if they're aware of these issues but their Ampang outlet has managed to survive until now....but, then again, I wasn't served frozen salmon over there....hmmmm! >.<

  3. How can the server just ignored you, so rude! I always wonder why they charge so expensive for those Korean pancakes, normally RM20 over and yours was RM30+, so ridiculous!

    1. Prices here are slightly above the norm but they're very generous with their banchan and complimentary dishes, so I guess that's quite ok...and the serving of that Korean pancake was rather large too :)

  4. BBQ restaurant doing business with food straight out of the freezer. Good luck with that. In my opinion, the only person that has the right to cook food straight out of the freezer is... me. Lazy Man homecooking emphasize speed and easiness over quality so it is alright. Not alright for a restaurant...

    1. I think even Lazy Man may encounter some difficulty cooking something from a frozen state! >_<

  5. I like all of the side dishes that come with Korean food - I could easily make a meal out of them alone. ;-)

    1. Yes, we could...since the side dishes are all refillable. But the mains usually stuff me up so much that I don't even ask for seconds of their banchan.

  6. Eeks... yeah, if they had their prep in order, they wouldn't have to dish out replacement items and complimentary offerings to assuage customers. Guess it depends a lot on the kitchen supervisor, and hopefully they'll get a good one soon :)

    1. Yes, prepping and getting their mise en place ready is key to a good service in any restaurant, otherwise the kitchen will get flustered during service.


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