Zhangs grille (holmdel nj) "self grill"


#9

So I finally got here. There is NOTHING online about the Korean BBQ and I had to investigate. The mixed terrible reviews and 5 star reviews, coupled with my love of Korean BBQ, prompted me to take one for the team.

To start, this place is the old ruby palace in holmdel, 2 doors down from dearborns. My cousin and I pull up around 6:45 and the parking lot is probably a third filled…maybe less.

We notice the signs out front advertise all types of cuisine. One says “Thai and Korean BBQ”

Online I could not find anything regarding korean. I couldn’t find a single review or pic…not one. The only ounce of info was some lady ranting on yelp about not being able to get korean BBQ for takeout. (Rolling eyes.) Even the menu online mentions nothing about bbq.

So we walked in and right off the bat it is pretty weird. There is no hostess or host in sight. The sushi chef is doing his thing and one server passes us. We wait probably an awkward 2 minutes and this little girl comes running out from the back to the register. She was maybe 3 and then a lady, most likely her mom, comes running out and sees us. She proceeds to come around from the register and goes over to a stack of menus and a single piece of loose leaf paper with drawings on it. I believe it was to keep track of what server was going to get the next table. She holds the paper and studies it for like 30 seconds with this really confused look. I had no clue what was going on, but for a pretty dead restaurant, this was painfully slow and weird. So then she finally brings us to a booth.

My cousin and I look immediately for the bbq and there is NOTHING that even mentions the word bbq at all. We sit there for maybe 7 minutes wondering what the hell is going on. The hostess comes back and says “did your server get you drinks yet?” We told her we hadn’t been waited on and asked her about the bbq. She said “oh you have to go to the back room” (FYI this place has a liquor license)

So we then get up and go to the back room where the grills are. There is a single table seated in the back and we were the second.

So I finally cracked the mystery. They do indeed have bbq but dont list it anywhere, tell you about it when you are greeted, or even give you the separate bbq menu unless you actually ask them. Unreal! Sans the giant sign in front, no one would ever know they even served it.

OK I’m done writing for now. I’ll post more later or tomorrow. Some pics…


#10

I’m almost out of words for how poorly this place is managed, both from a marketing and personnel stand point. I will wait until later or tomorrow to gather my thoughts. The good news is the meat is actually not bad.

One of a few signs tacked onto the brick building


#11

Holy shit…I didn’t even notice the sign has incorrect spelling. I’m delirious and about to sleep. Hopefully I’m seeing this and not dreaming it lol

This is just icing on the cake! This place needs to hire someone quickly to help them.


(Mr met) #12

Dude you deserve a medal for this. This is looks David lynch level bizarre


#13

Lol. Thanks.

So the meat was actually good. My cousin was like “man I don’t know about this place” after we got transferred to the back room. I told him to sit tight. I told him we had to solve this mystery for HO.

You get the standard noodles with duck sauce and mustard. The korean dinners come with a salad and miso soup. Both were your average Japanese sushi place style…standard issue. Both were good/average if you like those items. The salad was fresh and served with the standard ginger dressing everyone else uses. You also get rice and sides…note sides is plural on the menu. The only side was Kim chi. You’re not getting a ban Chan spread. I’m not sure if they offer this but we didn’t get it. Also, I asked the table behind me and they only got Kim chi too. This was some really tasty Kim chi and it had some heat to it…not crazy but it was a good level. So that was a plus. I was actually surprised at the flavor.

Another weird thing was that as soon as we ordered she fires up the grill and the fan. I’m thinking we are going to get the meat out of the fridge right away… boy was I wrong. Keep in mind they fired the grill at the same time we placed our order. This is after the noodles and before the salad, soup, and Kim chi come out. So yeah, as soon as we order we have to deal with this fan. Is that a legal issue? Do they have to turn the vent/fan on even if it just warming up? It wasnt too loud but it would have been better to not sit for 30 minutes with this thing on.

So onto the meat. For 16.95 my cousin, in the camo, got the bulgogi and opted for the 22.95 galbi. The meat portions were more than I planned and I thought the value was there. I had a heap of short rib. In that pic, that was taken after a few slices were cooking already so my plate was stacked. They cooked up nicely and came out quite tender. I love a piece of blazing hot rare beef off the grill. If I don’t leave with a burnt lip then something went wrong lol.

They serve the BBQ with some onion which is awesome. Those onions just sizzle in the meat juice and rendering fat and you can pick them off one by one as they reach your perfect temperature. I wait until they are caramelized and the smells given off this grill were pretty epic…the meat, fat, onion, bbq sauce and soy sauce all come together to form an outstanding aroma. This is the case with most bbq joints but the onion isn’t something that is traditional I believe. @joonjoon can you answer that? And yes, the grills are gas, not charcoal.

So the bottom line is… this isn’t going to be a mind blowing korean bbq experience but it surely beat my expectations. It has solid bbq food, it’s priced fairly, and has ample parking. The service is slow but I think that they are understaffed. Yes I wish Edison or Koreatown was closer, but it’s 45 minutes to the closest bbq joint in Edison and this is ten minutes away. So yes, I will be back to try some more. It won’t be epic for any hardcore korean fans, nor are they korean, but if you need a bbq fix, you might have a good time here. I can deal with slow service and a weird vibe for some local bbq that isn’t going to break the bank. Again, I’m not comparing this to edison. It’s Holmdel and it’s cool to see something lIke this locally.

Ps…the wait staff was 3 people I think. They were hustling! It was slow but they were working very hard. I wanted to put that out there. I think I have an idea or two that would help this place. I’ll report back in a bit. The owner/Manager here does look on the Internet and responds to people so maybe he will read this.

I posted in this older thread because it ranks on google…first page actually. You might want to combine the two threads. @NotJrvedivici


(Junior) #14

Wow…don’t know how I missed the original thread, thanks for taking one for the team CJ!! (I’ll leave the threads as-is)


(Junior) #15

Also thinking about this, didn’t this place get busted for prostitution about 10+ years ago? Has the hotel attached to it? Code word was; “ I’ll have an order of #69 to go”. (that’s a joke but not me recollection of prostitution here, I’m pretty sure that’s true)


#16

Delete. Too much info


(Greg Caggiano) #17

Hello all,

I wrote the review that has been linked in this thread. I am glad you found it amusing (and hopefully informational). I take no pleasure in bashing a restaurant, but that experience was (and still is almost a half a year later) beyond words. I thought perhaps they were getting their act together, but then I noticed they could not even get their own sign right.

They usually have a decent amount of cars in the parking lot when I pass by. Those poor people…


#18

Welcome aboard Greg. I was the one who actually emailed you earlier. I’m not sure if you realized that.

It’s good to have you on here and I hope you enjoy it. There are some Monmouth county people on here that really know food and I think you will learn some things , and vice versa. I like your blog and I’m sure others here will too. Cheers


(Greg Caggiano) #19

Thank you! Yes I did recognize your username. I also recognize the guy you are eating with in one of those pictures. Another dude named John? (last name withheld)


#20

Yup, he is my cousin. Small world lol


(Greg Caggiano) #21

Went to Brookdale with him, and also used to do some landscaping for him back in the day. Seems like a lifetime ago! Tell the “Emperor” I said hi!


#22

Haha! So you probably know how much of a character he is. He is still doing the landscaping thing and managing a property/housing complex too.

I haven’t even heard about UJs. I will investigate. How about the new Koi I believe. It’s the old asahi.


(Evelyn C. Leeper) #23

Is this a branch of the Koi that’s in East Brunswick?


(Junior) #24

Greg, hey I just wanted to say hello as well. Here is a link to our "Welcome To Ho’ thread please feel free to tell us more about yourself, also if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask. Look forward to hearing more from you! We are always looking for more voices for our NJ community.

Enjoy!


(Greg Caggiano) #25

Oh yes, I am aware! Haha

Have not been to Koi yet. Pass it every day. Always packed. Will have to try it.


(Greg Caggiano) #26

Thank you very much!


#27

I don’t actually know. Greg might


(Greg Caggiano) #28

I’m really not sure on that one. GC