A modern Korean restaurant that's not an imported brand.
Though hidden on the second floor of Mille Malle (a quiet Sukhumvit Soi 20 community mall frequented by expats), Banjoo BBQ aims for a trendier audience than your typical Korean restaurant. Le Cordon Bleu graduate owner Injin “Lauren” Kim doesn’t just serve up Korean barbecue, but also East-meets-West fare that takes influence from her experience at various international restaurants.
Passing through the giant wooden door, you enter a gray-hued, lofty dining room dotted with plain, dark-wood tables and cooker hoods surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows. In the middle of it all stands a life-size cow sculpture telling customers which part of the animal each cut of meat comes from—handy once you’re confronted with their long beef menu.
Alongside the usual rib-eye (B590/200g) and tongue (B390/100g), you also have some lesser-used cuts like chuck roll (B370/160g) and intercostal muscle (140g, B380), a particularly tasty option thanks to the fat lurking between the ribs. The meat comes all the way from Australia, and unlike other Korean restaurants, they serve their rib-eye whole rather than in slices—it’s juicer that way. The attentive staff are always willing to help with your grilling or replenish the three traditional sauces (we like the fermented soybean paste, which delivers a really well-rounded punch of saltiness).
Some of their fusion stuff is better than it sounds, including the white-cream spaghetti with Korean-style beef bulgogi (B260): the beef adds real depth to the sauce for a very well-rounded dish. Still, it’s not all fireworks here. The pizza-like kimchi pancakes (B280) came with the smell of stale oil on our last visit, while the kimchi soup was also watery. That doesn’t seem to be putting off the crowds of Koreans and Japanese who drop by for a laidback evening and plenty of Korean-Hite beer (B160) and Korean whiskey (B150-190). You can even get new-world wines and coffee from Ceresia.
Overall, Banjoo’s a nice spot for a relaxed barbecue, but unlike older players we can think of (Doorae and Arirang), it can’t quite satisfy all your Korean-food cravings. Corkage charge B500.
This review took place in October 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.