If you are a vegetarian, look away now; because we are about to hop on the meat train for one hell of a wild ride tonight at Shinara Grill & Lounge. Here we are, a group of close friends gather around at the Shinara korean BBQ restaurant on Pitt St for one good reason – it is to celebrate Yas (AKA Hungry Digital Elf) last day at work. You see, that poor guy is really having a bad run with his life this year. If you are following Yas’ blog, then you would know all the unfortunate events that had happened to him recently. The Pom complained once after reading his blog, “Why Yas’ blog is always so miserable? All his posts are always begin with something negative and ended up with a compulsive midnight eating disorder.” He still does actually… the midnight eating bit that is.
Just a quick run down of his recent misfortunes:
- hit by a car at the shopping mall parking lot
- then his leg became numb and couldn’t feel a thing
- from normal checkups turned into a health scare of cancer
- had all wisdom teeth taken out
- lost his favorite BALLY bag
- lost his iphone – TWICE
- lost his job
- (I am sure there are more, but I promised not to mention his weight gain)
Okay, maybe it is not all bad. Because Yas is actually quite looking forward to point no 7. He couldn’t be happier to get out of this job that he hated so much for the last six months and sent him to nervous breakdown. Hence, we decided to held our own cleansing ritual to wash away all his bad karma with the smokey air from the all-you-can-eat BBQ meat fest.
Shinara Grill & Lounge is located on Pitt St, across the street from Madang and O Bal Tan. The restaurant is separate into two levels with the lounge bar area on the ground floor and the BBQ seatings on the upper level. The lounge bar on the ground level looks disconcertingly empty, can be easily mistaken as lacking of business. But we are here for dinner, and soon follow right behind a group of Koreans into the restaurant, through a flight of stairs to the back where the BBQ seating is. The dining area is actually bigger than I thought it would be, and the restaurant is already half full with customers happily grilling away. First thing I noticed, NO SMOKE! They use the same efficient smoke extraction fan just like the ones at O Bal Tan. I think Suminoya really needs to do something about their gas chamber restaurant.
The all-you-can-eat bbq comes in two options of “Basic” and “Premium” at $29.50 and $39.50 respectively. There are about 40 items on the Basic menu including a selective cuts of meat, side dishes and drinks. For $10 more, you can upgrade to Premium menu which covers everything in the basic PLUS additional items like prawns, ox tongue, wagyu, soft shell crab, sashimi and more. But quality has been overruled by quantity tonight and we all opt for the basics and endless supply of meat is what we are after. Perfect beverage for BBQ – Asahi beer on tap is available from the bar downstairs. Others go for the rice tea, a murky sweet rice water drink with a hint of gingery.
Included in the basic menu, Helen, Minh, Yas and I also ordered a Bibimbap each as starter while waiting for the meat to be cooked. The bibimbap arrives in generous full meal size, so probably not a good idea to order it if you are a small eater and best to keep the stomach empty for the BBQ meat instead. The fried egg with runny yolk is always the highlight for me. A quick mix of all the ingredients with a good dash of Gochujang spicy sauce, the bibimbap instantly becomes a decent staple stomach filler. We also ordered an array of side dishes to go with the meat, the spicy chicken is one of my favorites, extremely numbing hotness but can be a little too hot for some. The Pajeon is a little disappointing, only a few squares of pancakes which has gone cold hence also a little stodgy.
Meat!!! Where do I begin? The beef spare ribs are only limited to one piece per person, a ribbon of meat long enough to cover the length of the BBQ griller. The Pork belly is a wobbly slab of fat with a thin layer of meat instead of the other way round. The marinated LA ribs are definitely everyone’s favorite. First time I see ribs being machine sliced vertically through the bones. It is tender with a beautiful smokey BBQ flavour. It does take a little extra effort to enjoy the beef skirts – bite hard and yank the chewy tendon-y meat off the bone is compulsory.
The amount of meat you see in this post is only the first around of three. Shocking! I know. All-you-can-eat Korean BBQ is definitely the way to go, but bear in mind that there is a 90 minutes limit, and orders are only taken the first 60 minutes, plus forfeit at $2 per 100gram of food leftovers. Albeit all these rules, we definitely have got our money’s worth from the amount of meat we have consumed that night.
Oh. So. Full…..
Shinara Grill & Lounge Shop 1, 338 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000 P: 02 9262 9218