You’d be forgiven for mistaking this Korean barbecue den for the set of a Stanley Kubrick film – past the discreet entrance and up the plush red stairwell is a curious arrangement of custom made cooking tables and shiny black hoses dangling from the roof.
But look past this Dr. Strangelove (or any quasi-futurist, semi-decadent film)-like scene and you’ll discover that Bornga (formerly known as Myeong-ga Madang) is an authentic Korean eatery, where waiters dutifully sear meat at each table and replenish a never-ending supply of delectable side dishes (known as banchan).
If you feel a little intimidated by the menu, which includes seven barbecue banquets (duck, meat and pork are among the options), "traditional court cuisine" and desserts; you can rest assured as it’s hard to go wrong. The beef bulgogi is tender and rich and the charcoal, from barbecuing, imparts some serious flavour. Their smoked duck, which they import specially, is a crispy offering best dipped in salt and wrapped in a crunchy lettuce leaf.
Standouts in the complimentary banchan are the spicy red kimchi, pickled bean shoots and caramelised lotus root, all of which are generously refilled whenever you call for service via a button on your table.
It may seem a little futuristic, but it’s clear that Gibong Choi, the brains behind Bornga, knows exactly what she is doing, having previously run a number of Korean restaurants around town. We just learnt to stop worrying and love the barbecue.