My co-workers Julia and Lars had been raving about some restaurants that are gogi (meat) buffets. I thought, “Oh cool, get some meat and veg out of steam strays under heat lamps. Okay. I’ll try it.”
One night, we went for it. When we got there, I realized, “Oh yeah, this is Korea. Everything’s raw until you cook it.”
The meat buffet was like the meat and seafood counters at your supermarket. Except that you get a plate and pile it high from bowls of raw protein of most any kind. There were different cuts of pork, beef, chicken, duck, gizzards, intestines, four kinds of octopus, shellfish, marinated eels, shrimp, and other bits and pieces we just cooked to find out what it tasted like.
Now, the restaurant would lose money if you ate just meat. So they had plenty of side dishes, and good ones, to distract you. One is a new favorite of mine, todok root, which is very expensive because it’s pretty labor intensive to prepare it. But the final result is a sweet and sour crunchy root vegetable that is great grilled.
They also had my favorite Korean restaurant side dish, raw marinated crab halves.
So, what do you do with all this raw meat?
You cook it at your table, of course.
Because it’s just a 6,000 won all-you-can-eat buffet, it’s pretty no frills in atmosphere, like a local steakhouse country buffet back home.
Lars and I went straight for the weirder looking stuff in the case.
In the end, we kept going back to the pork, and we really liked the duck.
Towards the end of the meal, after our seventh plate of meat, Julia informed us that there’s a per-dish financial penalty for uneaten food. So it’s not only an all-you-can-eat but a take-all-you-want-but-eat-all-you-take buffet.
So we finished every bit of fat, muscle, gristle, and innard. I thought that this would be a regular thing, at first. But we all have noticed that our time in Korea has cut down our tolerance for fat and grease. I was feeling pretty woozy after the meal, and my throat felt so lubricated with fat that I could easily swallow a box of nails.
But if you have a short time in Korea and want to have a taste of the meat dishes and sides Korea has to offer, the Gogi Buffet is a good quick survey of what’s available.