Palsaik Korean BBQ is the sister restaurant of ChangGo. Despite the popularity of ChangGo nearby on Little LaTrobe Street whereby hopeful patrons snake out the door and down the road every evening, Palsaik is surprisingly untouched by the fanaticism. Thinking that it would be ridiculously crowded on a Saturday evening, we opted for an earlier dinner just before 6pm.
Palsaiks interior is modern; high ceilings with steampunk-esque copper exhaust fans hovering over each tables grill, a minimalist layout with black walls and floors complementing the copper titivation. Upon arrival there was only 1 other table occupied, however, soon hungry patrons filed in and every table was filled.
We were seated in the back corner on a large booth which contained two BBQ grills. My only qualm with the tabletop set-up was that the hot plate was very temperamental and I suspect it may have electric – Sacrilege when it comes to BBQ’ing meat.
The Palsaik option for $58 is similar, if not exactly the same, as ChangGo and offers 8 flavours of pork belly, pickled sides, kimchi and a seafood stew.
Soon our 8-piece pork belly set had arrived, alongside pickled vegetables and a spicy mystery sauce. The small pickled vegetables were perfect to cleanse the palate in preparation of the next pork flavour. The employees expertly unravelled the rolled pork belly onto the hot plate, only to swiftly reappear again once it was time to cut the long strip into bite size chunks. After the first slice, we didn’t need much assistance and happily continues flipping pork, drinking the sweetly potent soju and devouring at our leisure.
Though the palsaik set is said to feed 2-3 we managed to wade through the pork and the seafood hot pot with finesse. The meat was marinaded to perfection, though due to the large wooden serving board being slightly worn, the types of pork were illegible. This made for a fun game whereby we discussed what flavour we were currently tasting and soon into the cutting and tossing of the pork belly, we had completely lost track of which was which. Nonetheless, each sizzled morsel was perfectly juicy and uniquely flavoured.
The kimchi, lightly grilled in the pork fat seeping from the first placed long slab of marinated pork was no less than amazing. The starchy vegetables that accompanies the meat managed to acquire a nice char by the end of the 5th pork belly wave.
The seafood hotpot was robust in tomato and rich seafood flavour. It acted as the mid-centre between the different rolls of pork belly. The generous inclusion of crab legs, mussels and cabbage offered balance for the meat heavy palsaik set.
What I love about Korean BBQ is the pacing of the entire meal. Slowly, a total 8 waves of delicious pork belly was consumed. Korean BBQ is certainly best for social occasions where you have a couple of hours to drink, sample various meats and to revel in the sounds and smells of meat sizzling at every table. Both ChanGo and Palsaik deliver the goods when it comes to Korean BBQ. However, you’re more likely to score a seat at the quieter Palsaik in the CBD.