With Day 4 being quite a special occasion for us, and my love of DIY tabletop cooking, my confidante opted that we go to Palsaik for Korean BBQ (as we couldn't find a recommended hot pot place). Having heard of its popularity online, we opted to make a booking before heading down Chinatown.
It is situated upstairs on 139 Little Bourke Street, and took us a little while to find the stairs to go up.
With the menu available outside of the store, we were able evaluate our options before going upstairs.
At 7 O'clock, the restaurant was already bustling with people. It was really lucky that we remembered to make a booking as quite a number of people who didn't had to wait quite a period of time for a table. Decor was quite rustic and had an industrial feel to it.
With metal themed cutlery, we were a little curious at the option of a gas stove in addition to an electrical stove.
Menus and water came relatively quickly, and of course we were quite captivated by the concept of 8 colourful flavours of pork, which was one of their signature dishes.
Our banchan arrived shortly after, containing kimchi, which was slightly less spicy than what we have been used to, along with two different styles of pickled onion.
As a net was provided for the gas and charcoal grill, rice was also served.
A cast iron pan then came for the electric stove, and had onions, sweet potato, rice cakes and some kimchi and sprouts on it already.
Our highlight of the meal came, with all eight flavours of pork coming on a long tray much to our visual appreciation.
It was unfortunate though, that we were not able to appreciate our pork as we would have liked it, because to our confusion (and some other patron's confusion as far as we could see), Palsaik's dining experience involves the staff cooking the meats for you. Despite the fact that we asked them a couple times whether we could be allowed to grill our own meats, they didn't seem to understand our request. As a result of this, they grilled the pork together, cut it up and stir fried all the different flavours. Initially, my confidante and I had wanted to cook each individual flavour and savour the different tastes of the pork, but sadly this wasn't possible after they had mixed them all together, which really ruined my night. The different staff members also turned the pork a little more vigourously than I would have liked, resulting the pork being overcooked without the fragrance and texture that could have been. I find it quite saddening and disappointing, since the pork was fresh, and the marinade seemed to be quite tasty, that we weren't able to enjoy it to its full potential.
We also ordered a portion of Marinated Beef Topside, which was promptly placed on the other grill before I could even snap a photo. Whilst being deliciously marinated with garlic. As most of my readers would know, I really enjoy my beef to be cooked rare, and given what happened with the pork, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to cook it myself. To this, I was given very disproving looks by staff who rushed over to take over from me. As a result of this, I ended up being served again with beef that was overcooked, but also not as caramelised on the outside (due to the constant premature flipping of the meat), which meant that it was chewy and dry without a crispy exterior.
The Marinated Flank, whilst being a little more chewy than the topside, was also largely the same story. Without repeating myself when it comes to the execution, I can say that I enjoyed the garlic marinade.
We rounded off our meal with the spicy seafood and tofu soup. It came with quite a bit of cabbage, prawns, some clams and tofu. Having previously tried similar fare at Midam, I found this to be more flavoursome, and had a stronger kimchi taste to it.
On principal, Palsaik is quite a solid choice when it comes to Korean food. Despite the issues in execution of the cooking process, I could definitely see the effort that the kitchen had put into sourcing fresh meats and marinating it well. Whilst I can understand their attempts to add value in cooking the meats for you, I think they could have made my night far more enjoyable by simply asking whether we wanted them to cook our food for us or whether we wanted to DIY.
Taste: 6/10 (based on the quality of food served, if we had the opportunity to DIY, it would be 8/10)