Maybe it's just me, but I really don't get what the fuss of Bornga is all about. It could be the fact that it's opened by a Korean celebrity chef, and that Singaporeans are currently mad about anything Korean, but for someone who doesn't have Seoul fever, this place left a lot to be desired.
To put my review in context, we first tried going on Friday night after work, but the line was about 20 people long (they don't take reservations), and after it moved by only 2 people in 15 minutes, we cut our losses and decided to come on a weekday instead.
Fast forward to Monday evening. There was no queue and the entire al fresco area was empty. So imagine our surprise when we were told that there was a 10 to 15 minute wait. Why? Because the al fresco area was closed due to shortage of staff. Not very professional, but ok. We waited and were eventually ushered to a table.
The complimentary side dishes weren't as impressive nor varied as those at Ju Shin Jung, nor were they as tasty. The kimchee had less depth/flavour, but ironically that's why A actually prefers the kimchee here.
A specifically came here for the Naengmyun - their signature cold noodle, comprising thin buckwheat noodles in a light icy cold broth with sliced beef. I like cold soba, but I'm not a huge fan of cold noodles in a cold soup, but A really liked this and pretty much finished the entire (huge) bowl singlehandedly.
You have to order at least 2 BBQ items, so we ordered the boneless prime rib ($38), and the thinly sliced brisket ($22). You're supposed to wrap the grilled meats with the scallions and lettuce that are provided, which I did at first, but after a while I just had it with my steamed rice and some turnip kimchee.
I wasn't particularly impressed with either of the meats. At those prices, I'd much rather go to either Ju Shin Jung or even Gyu Kaku. There's a very limited selection of meats here, and only the brisket is under $35. The other 4 or 5 grill items are between $38 and $45, which can get you quite a lot more at Gyu Kaku.
A few other things bugged me here as well. Firstly, I didn't think the servers were particularly skilled in grilling the meats for you. After cooking the prime rib, they changed the grill top, but before waiting for it to get hot, they promptly plonked the brisket on to cook. Naturally, there was no sizzle or caramelisation, and the meat was sitting on the lukewarm grill top, steaming in its own juices instead of being grilled.
They also don't use different tongs for handling raw and cooked meats, like they do at Gyu Kaku, which doesn't bode very well in terms of cross-contamination.
I find that the food just isn't prepared with much finesse. Even the lettuce that was provided to wrap the meats with wasn't properly drained; it was still dripping wet, which in turn diluted the flavour of the lettuce wraps.
As you've probably figured by now, I was not very impressed with the place, but A doesn't seem to dislike it as much as I do, and actually doesn't mind going back.
C and I really disagree about this place. I quite like the food here. But then I like cold food so I had the cold noodles. Meat-wise, I found the standard the same as our other fave BBQ places. Plus, although the selection is limited, the standard Korean side dishes that come with the meat aren't as aggressively flavoured. Overall, it may not be my top pick for Korean BBQ, but I wouldn't mind going back.
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