Ginseng

March 10, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Restaurants | Leave a comment
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Sometimes, you just want something a bit different from your usual, sit-down-and-order meal out. I’m a big fan of Chinese hot pot restaurants, where you order a pot of stock and then cook your own seafood, meat and veggies by dipping them in the stock – so I can’t believe it took me so long to try Ginseng!

Located in West One Plaza, Ginseng is a Korean BBQ restaurant where you grill your own food. It sounded like a fun night out, so I was excited about my upcoming trip to Ginseng. In fact, I was looking forward to it so much that I downloaded the menu well in advance – and I’m so glad I did!

Ginseng’s menu is a whopping 32 pages long (although that does include lots of photographs) With so much choice, it’s definitely worth taking the time to read the entire menu in advance. The other thing worth knowing about Ginseng, is that it isn’t open all day during the week. From Monday through Thursday, it opens for lunch (12-3pm) and then it’s closed until 5pm.

Inside, Ginseng is bright and modern, and much larger than you’d expect from the outside. Our waitress showed us to an empty table next to one of the eye-catching, super-sized fish tanks that dominate the downstairs dining area, and handed us a copy of that whopping 32 page menu.

sheffield eats gingseng

Obviously, a large part of Ginseng’s menu is dedicated to BBQ food. You can order various platters of meat, seafood or vegetables to BBQ at your table, or you can opt for one of Ginseng’s set dinners, all of which include the option of a BBQ course.

If you’re not in the mood for BBQ, then Ginseng also offers noodle and teriyaki dishes, soups, casseroles, and a selection of “hot stone pots” which look really intriguing.

Basically, this is one of the most impressive menus I’ve ever seen! I can’t imagine anyone struggling to find something they fancy on this mammoth menu.

Since this was my first foray into Korean food, I decided to order one of the set dinners as they seemed to offer a good mix of different Korean delicacies.

I went with set dinner A, which consisted of roasted barley tea, one pickled side dish, soup of the day, boiled rice, a starter, and then either the main course of your choice or a BBQ platter (£14.95).

My friend also opted for a set dinner, but went with the slightly more expensive set dinner B (£19.95). Those few extra pounds bought him one additional pickled side dish, ice cream for dessert, and a wider selection of starters and mains to choose from.

First to arrive was our combined pickled side dishes, plus some dipping sauces.

sheffield eats pickle dishes

The pickles were quickly followed by a pot of roasted barley tea.

sheffield eats roasted barley tea

I’ve never tried roasted barley tea before, but after just a few sips I was hooked. Ginseng’s barley tea was really light and refreshing, with a unique taste. I’m not sure whether the barley tea was unlimited, but our waitress didn’t hesitate to bring us another pot as soon as we’d finished our first, which was an unexpected bonus.

Both our set dinners came with sticky rice, which was the perfect size for a side order.

The soup of the day was seaweed and tofu, which tasted exactly like miso soup. It was strong, salty and delicious. My only complaint is that the portion wasn’t big enough! It was so good, I wanted more.

Next up was our starters. For me, that meant a seafood pancake.

For a starter, this was massive! The pancake had just the right amount of crispiness without being burnt, and was really tasty – although I have to say I didn’t get much seafood in my seafood pancake!

My friend’s starter was something extra special: seasoned sea snails.

sheffield eats sea snails

As you can see, it looked amazing. Apparently, it tasted every bit as good as it looked. This is definitely something I want to try on my next visit.

Now what I’d really come to Ginseng for – the BBQ!

For our first Korean BBQ experience, me and my friend both opted for a platter of marinated squid.

sheffield eats squid

Just so we’re clear, that isn’t a snap of our combined squid – that’s how much we got each!

So, how does this BBQ thing work?

Each table is kitted out with a metal plate, and when it’s time to BBQ the staff remove the plate’s cover and turn the heat on. They then place a grill on top of the plate, brush it with oil, and that’s it – you’re ready to BBQ.

Eating each piece of squid straight off the grill meant it tasted extra fresh, but the best thing about our squid BBQ was the strong, tangy marinade. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was in the marinade – but whatever it was, it was delicious!

The squid was so good, we both polished off our super-sized platters in no time.

The BBQ process does get a bit messy (try as I might, I couldn’t stop bits of burnt squid from sticking to the grill) but Ginseng’s staff kept a close an eye on things. They were always on hand to spread more oil on the grill, and halfway through our BBQ they even swapped our messy grill for a fresh one – without us even having to ask!

My first ever Korean BBQ experience was over, but my friend had one course left to go. The waitress explained he could choose any two flavours of ice cream for pudding. He opted for two of the more unusual-sounding flavours: one scoop of lemongrass, and one scoop of lychee.

sheffield eats ice cream

Ginseng’s ice cream was more like a sorbet, but that made it the perfect, light and refreshing way to end to such a big meal.

So, that was was my first taste of Korean BBQ – and I loved every minute of it! Cooking our own food was lots of fun, and made the meal feel more like an experience, rather than just popping out for a bite to eat. All of the food was delicious, the menu is huge, and the set dinners offer amazing value for money.

I can’t wait to go back!

5-stars

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