Meet Charcoal Mine BBQ House, where the Korean BBQ experience is intertwined with the buffet experience.
While many restaurants in Parramatta find themselves sitting next to each other along the main eatery strip; others are situated away from the large crowds located on Church Street. Such a place is Charcoal Mine BBQ House, a spacious all-you-can-eat Korean restaurant that incorporates the experience of a buffet and BBQ house all in one. What you once experienced at an all-you-can-eat buffet where trays and tubs of already cooked food meet your eye; Charcoal Mine presents an experience quite different and opposite to the norm.
Choose your meat and cook it yourself on charcoal
A cold buffet is what characterises an all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurant such as Charcoal Mine. Cold buffet, in this instance, simply means that inside the metal trays sit a variety of raw meat and seafood available for your selection to bring back to your table to cook for yourself. In the centre of every table are metal BBQ plates and steel vents that hang above it, capturing the smoke that arises from the charcoal grilling of the meat.
This Korean BBQ Buffet restaurant first opened in 1995, and since then has developed a reputation for being one of the first all-you-can-eat BBQ buffets in Australia. Bringing a little South Korean style of cooking to Sydney Food Lovers, the atmosphere inside Charcoal Mine also mirrors the ambience of a typical Australian barbecue. Families and friends sit and gather around the table, absorbed in conversation and loud, energetic vibes as each person takes the tongs to turn the meat and watch it cook right in front of them.
All tables have their own metal charcoal barbecue
Inside the establishment are plastic, cushioned chairs alongside varnished wooden tables. Timber floorboards are laid down across the restaurantís entirety, with the U-shaped buffet sitting opposite to the fully licensed bar, where you can order a beer or two to accompany your BBQ meal. Upon entering the premises, the exterior itself also welcomes you into a house-like restaurant, with brick walls, tall red pillars; together with a small roof feature over the building, and steps forming a front porch to lead you inside.
Make your own salad to have on the side
There is plenty to choose from among the buffet items. Over along the left-side of the buffet arrangement, a range of condiments and sides are available, including typical Korean food items such as Kim Chi (pickled cabbage) and Seaweed Salad. You will also find a variety of other fresh vegetables to create your own Asian-inspired salad, such as a few bean sprouts, crisp iceberg lettuce and coriander leaves. This not only adds a little spicy flavour to your meal, but gives extra freshness and crunchy texture to the succulent meat. Over to the right-side, bottles and pinch bowls of different sauces are available, including a large rice cooker and plastic bowls beside it to fill up with steamed, white rice.
Silver tongs and silver tubs at the buffet
The main attraction is, of course, the meat. Marinated or simply salted, tubs of uncooked meat form rows and columns in the centre counter of the buffet arrangement. There are plenty of choices to accommodate those who love fillets; those who love a little spice, and for those who are eager to try one of each piece. Yet while this is classified as a buffet, extra charges may occur if your table has any excess uncooked meat.
Charcoal Mine offers pork belly, and scotch fillets that are marinated in either soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil or a salt, pepper and sesame oil base. Chicken fillets, wings and drumsticks are also amongst the buffet choices. In addition to beef ribs, there are other cuts of meat that are available such as chicken giblets, liver, ox tongue and a few others, also served marinated or plain. Off to the other side of the meat buffet are a range of seafood options from mussels, baby octopus and calamari.
Thin Beef Skirts (also known as Beef Bulgogi) and Chicken Fillets ready to cook
A popular choice for the BBQ, suitable for children and parents alike, are the Thin Beef Skirts which are sometimes referred to as Beef Bulgogi. String-like and very thinly cut, these slices of beef are marinated in a flavoursome soy sauce and garlic mix. As they are thinly cut slices, the strips cook quite quickly, and this popular Korean BBQ meat cut would definitely serve as a crowd-pleaser.
If you enjoy your typical fried bacon for breakfast, you will find the spicy rashers of bacon equally enjoyable. Barbecuing this particular bacon releases a crispy outer exterior, charred on the surface of the meat and around the edges; bringing a smoky charcoal flavour with a mildly spicy marinade.
Beef and Bacon sizzling away
Despite most cuts of meat already soaked in Korean-style marinades, the array of sauces available means you also have the opportunity to create your own flavour base to spoon over any non-marinated meat during the barbecuing process. Simply grab a bowl; squirt a little bit of soy sauce, chilli sauce or other sauces, and toss your meat in it to flavour your meat as you desire. The sauces available donít just to have to be used for dipping, nor do the non-marinated cuts of meat need to be eaten without a flavour base.
For just over $30 per person, youíll guarantee to leave the restaurant feeling satisfied and no longer hungry. If youíre a fan of the atmosphere of a Korean BBQ restaurant offering an a la carte menu, you'll also enjoy indulging in a bit of all-you-can-eat treats; great entertainment and generous feeds at Charcoal Mine BBQ House. If there is one downside to Korean BBQ, it would simply just be that you will probably force yourself to go home afterwards to avoid spreading the delicious smoky barbecue smell everywhere you go.
Eat and cook all the meat you can at Charcoal Mine BBQ House
Where: Charcoal Mine BBQ House, 454 Church Street, North Parramatta NSW.
Why: Korean BBQ and a Buffet all in one place. How can you resist all-you-can-eat?
Cost: Lunch, Mon-Thurs $24, Fri-Sun $25 (Children 4-7 at $10.50, 8-12 at $14.50), Dinner, Mon-Thurs $32, Fri-Sun $34 (Children 4-7 at $14.50, 8-12 at $19.50). Drinks not included.
When: Lunch 12pm-3pm, Dinner 5pm-11pm. Closed Tuesday Lunch.