Whether you live in town or are staying at one of the fabulous hotels in the Chaoyang District where the majority of the Embassies are housed…don’t miss dining at the wonderful Obaltan Korean BBQ restaurant! I’m staying at the Hilton Hotel located just one block away until I find an apartment to rent and I happily wandered in to Obaltan to eat dinner and do some writing last night.
Cross my heart, I have not had so much fun dining alone in AGES! In the end it was because of the interactive nature of Korean BBQ in itself, but from the moment I walked in I felt very welcome. Partly from the lovely hospitality of the manager and the waitress who ended up taking care of me throughout the evening and partly because of the amazing, mouth-watering aromas in the place!
Now, I’m not normally a fan of any restaurant that has photos in their menu but I have to admit that I was very happy to have them because my waitress didn’t speak English and I had never been to a Korean BBQ restaurant before and had no clue what to expect. Here’s how my meal went down:
- I ordered an ice cold Carlsberg, beef BBQ and sweet potatoes. The first thing that happened is a man with thick protective gloves brought over my own personal barbecue pit complete with red hot embers burning so strong I could have toasted marshmallows over it, and placed it in a hole in the centre of my table. Then my waitress came back and delivered a huge bottle of Carlsberg (which was ice cold, something I’ve been told is not a consistent serving temperature in China) along with a teeny weeny glass to drink it from, a grate to place over my BBQ pit and the beef. She placed the beef strips along the grill and immediately pulled down this lovely brass encased exhaust fan that immediately sucked up every bit of smoke from my BBQ station, it was great!
- While this was going on, a bowl full of freshly washed butter lettuce, some blanched snow peas, battered & fried fishy strips and two different sauces were dropped off at my table and I had no idea what to do with it all so I just carried on writing. Once the meat was done it was cut up into bite-size pieces with these massive scissors, pushed to the outside of the grill, and then the waitress walked away so I grabbed the chopsticks and dipped the beef into one of the sauces to try it and nibbled on the snow peas. Eventually the sweet waitress could see that I was a BBQ newbie and took pity on me. She placed a piece of lettuce on my plate, signalled to the beef and then the thicker of the two sauces and made a ‘wrapping’ motion … and the rest was history. Man that was tasty! Really, truly delicious and fun to boot!
I’m not sure how I’ve gone all these year without discovering Korean BBQ but I’m hooked now. Obaltan was a lovely restaurant to experience it in…modern but still relaxed, with lovely crockery and a decent list of drinks including various saké. I was there on a Wednesday and had to wait about five minute for a table so I highly recommend making a reservation if you head over on busier nights.
Cost: RMB 138 for one person with one big Carlsberg, beef strip steak and sweet potato side order >> Telephone: 010-84493266 or 010-84493265
Ciao ciao, Angela
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