Bulgogi Brothers is a Korean BBQ restaurant chain that has just opened its first Canadian location in Richmond Hill. Tabletop grills set the stage for a meal composed of many cuts of beef, marinated in a variety of different sauces.
Our party of five arrive on a quiet Tuesday night. The restaurant is almost empty which doesn't create a great first impression. The upside, of course, is we get plenty of attention from our server who enthusiastically explains the menu and answers all of our questions.
We decide to share the Noon Kkotdeungsim Modeum Gui ($58.99), a combination of Noon Kkotdeungsim (aged ribeye), Unyang Style Bulgogi (heart-shaped bulgogi) and Yangnyeom Galbi (marinated beef ribs). Accompanying this are two stews: Chadol Daenjang-jjigae (soybean stew) and Kimchi-jigae (kimchi stew), and a Dolsot Bibimbap (stone pot rice), which are all offered at a reasonable price of $4.99 when ordered with any meat platter.
Arriving at the table first is some nourishing hot corn tea and a refillable plate of steamed Korean corn on the cob and edamame. Then comes the Banchan (free side dishes): kimchi, white kimchi, butternut squash salad, lotus root and soybean paste flavoured with hot peppers. The variety (and free refills) win us over, and it was nice to see some variation from the typical banchan served at most Korean restaurants around the GTA.
On goes the grill and our server begins cooking up an outer ring of garlic, onions and mushrooms that eventually soak up all the beautiful beefy juices. The Noon Kkotdeungsim is prepared medium rare and is reminiscent of japanese wagyu in both flavour and texture.
The Unyang Style Bulgogi is prepared in a heart-shaped beef patty and our server notes that the formation of the patties is quite a tedious task. The texture reminds me of a fairly finely-ground burger patty, and to be honest, is my least favourite item of the night.
The Yangyeom Galbi go on last and are incredibly tender beef ribs in a traditional Kalbi marinade. The meat melts in your mouth as through it were slow-cooked for hours.
The two stews and bibimbap are average at best. As incredibly tasty as the beef was, we were still feeling a bit hungry by the end of the dinner and the complementary Melona ice cream bar certainly didn't remedy that.
Overall, Bulgogi Brothers serves high quality beef but I'm not convinced it's worth the price. As the empty restaurant might prove, most diners might be swayed to one of the many AYCE KBBQ (Korean Barbeque, although often run by Chinese owners) options nearby that may not match the quality, but overall deliver better value for your buck.
Writing by Bryan Chang