|Voted #96||of 105 Restaurants & Purveyors in Tehran|
|Marinated King Prawns||36000|
There are few traffic nightmares in Tehran worse than Darband on a Wednesday night. The whole area comes to life with the hustle and bustle of people from all over Tehran who come to the hills in order to rise above Tehran's pollution. And of course lots of people means lots of cars taking up all the parking spaces. So there has to be a very good reason for me to go there at such a busy time.
A new Korean barbecue restaurant calling itself Korean Barbecue, is a good reason.
Stepping into the restaurant may be strange for anyone not acquainted with the Korean barbecue concept. Every table has a round grill cut into the table top and above each grill is a trunk like ventilation tube hanging from the ceiling. There was a little VIP corner towards the end of the restaurant where the tables were much lower to the ground.
The menu offered a selection of beef cuts, such as beef ribs, brisket and sirloin. Other than that there was a choice of three noodles and one rice. The waiter explained to us that each dish comes with a set menu of sides including wheat sprouts, Kimchi, yoghurt, sesame oil and cabbage salad. Strangely there was no chicken on the menu, and our choice of marinated king prawns was a special and not part of the menu.
The sides arrived very quickly and in no time our table-for-four was covered with something like 12 little bowls. Some of which were accompaniments to the main course. Our waiter proceeded to light the grill which, surprisingly, was a charcoal grill. He brought in a neat bowl of red hot charcoal and used the air intake from the ventilation to raise the heat of the coal even further.
Our meats arrived and we started to cook it by ourselves. But it was very hard to cook and chat at the same time so in typical Korean BBQ fashion the waiter automatically assumed control of the grill and cooked the meats and prawns for us. This was just as well, because the lighting was so low we could hardly tell what was cooked and what was raw.
There was clearly a great effort made at authenticity. Meats came with their own scissors so that larges cuts can be cut down and a basket of lettuce came with the meat for making mini wraps.
But sadly the authenticity was mainly on the surface. Our meat cuts were chewy and bland, even the typically tender ribs. Our lettuce was soggy with cold water that was used to keep it fresh. Our non-alcoholic beer was warm and to make matters worse they dropped in a chunk of ice in there to cool it down. The noodles that we had ordered on the side were severely overcooked and I expect had been sitting in warm water for too long. They almost tasted like instant noodles. And throughout all of these dishes I found eating on a overly crowded table really uncomfortable.
The only enjoyable part of the meal was the marinated king prawns which tasted delightful. But it wasn't enough to make up for the other shortcomings.
On a more positive note we all thought that the service level was quite high and the management was very amiable. This made the dinner a fun night out and despite the so-so meal we did not regret going there at all.
Verdict: The food itself was not what it should have been at these prices. Korean Barbecue clients will have high expectations from the meat and the owners of the restaurant will have to find a way to meet those expectations. The novelty of the eating experience and the high service level are compromised by the bland meat that is being served. And at the end of the day, the food is the main reason why customers would go back there.