A Ri Rang is a Korean BBQ restaurant located on North Road in Bentleigh. We picked this place from the Entertainment Book. When we arrived, Kin noted that it looked more like a strip joint than a restaurant. The neon lights at the front window was a bit dodgy, considering it was in a tiny strip of shops where everything else was closed and all dark. We ventured inside and up the small flight of stairs to a raised restaurant. It wasn't very busy at all, with only a few tables occupied.
We contemplated the banquet but decided on ordering dishes instead. I picked the seafood entree for starters. I was expecting the usual huge plate of pancake like at most Korean restaurants. Instead, three tiny panckes arrived. That was a slight disappointment, but I dug into it as I was really hungry. It wasn't that good, with minimal seafood flavour.
I also picked the Korean Style Sushi as I really wanted to eat sushi. How silly am I though, ordering sushi at a Korean restaurant. The sushi turned out to be all salmon sushi and it definitely was not good, bad in fact. The fish was not fresh at all and the rice was so sour it was hard to eat. If that's how Korean style sushi is like, I hate it.
Paul ordered a Spicy Squid dish. It had the usual Korean spicy sauce with a hint of sweetness. It was ok, but a bit too sweet and not spicy enough for my liking.
Finally, we got meats to BBQ. I picked the Beef Ribs and Kin picked the Spicy Chicken. The plates of meat were less than we expected so we all decided that we would eat more rice.
We stuck the meats on the BBQ hotplate to cook. It cooked quite quickly and produced lots of smoke. Obviously we all ended up smelling like a BBQ ourselves. The chicken was good, with the spicy flavours working well with the tenderness of the BBQ meat. The beef ribs were also good, having the usual sweet type sauce on them.
The service was a bit hit and miss. They bring out the tea and pour it for us, which is good. Next though, the waitress proceeds to spill soy sauce all over me, which is bad. The same waitress also broke a martini style glass with ice cream in it at another table. The service was also a bit slow in bringing us rice. We just sat there waiting for rice while the meats were ready to eat, so that was bad. Then another waitress comes and helps cut up the beef ribs for us, which is good.
In terms of food, I think I won't be coming back to this place. It's not exactly cheap and I don't think you get value for what you pay. The BBQ meats were good, but its the same at all other Korean BBQ restaurants. The other dishes such as the pancake and sushi don't exactly make me want to come back. The other point that really irked me was having to pay for kimchi. Instead of getting 5 to 8 small dishes of free kimchi/condiments, we got nothing. Finally we asked for some kimchi, which we found we got charged $4 for a small bowl that wasn't even refilled. Kimchi costs so little, you would think they would give it free. I think I know why though. Whereas other restaurants are really run by Koreans who make all the condiments themselves, despite the owners initial Korean greeting, I heard her speaking in Mandarin later to her waitresses. So this place probably doesn't make their own kimchi and has to buy it.
Overall Rating: 10/20, The BBQ meats was good but other food not so good. Service a bit patchy. No free kimchi is a definite no no at a Korean restaurant.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.