Coaching is a way to help a person achieve his or her personal or professional goals. Mostly done one-on-one with staff members, it’s meant to correct bad behavior and reinforce good work.
For my day job, one of my primary duties is to coach members of my team. And as much as I don’t want to talk about my work when I’m out of the office, I couldn’t help but feel that the staff from Seoul Train Korean BBQ could benefit from regular coaching sessions.
The first time I went to Seoul Train was 30 minutes before they closed lunch service, around 2:00 PM. My companions and I were immediately shooed away by the staff because the kitchen was no longer taking more orders. This was fine; it was our fault for coming late.
During my second visit, my friends and I arrived at around 12:30 PM. Everything else from this visit was normal, except I couldn’t shake the feeling that the staff needed to smile more often to reinforce the happy vibe being given off by the interior design.
At the entryway, you’ll see numerous posters featuring musicians, which are meant to look like ads in a subway. The dining area itself is made to look like it’s inside a train. Loud K-pop music blasts from the TVs on the side, while sound effects meant to mimic a whistling train play in the background. With a concept this fun and exciting, you’d think that the staff would be an exceptionally happy bunch. But they weren’t. They felt like they didn’t want to be there.
I experienced even worse service during my third visit. Despite arriving a bit late again–around 1:50 PM–the staff gave off the vibe that they couldn’t wait to get rid of me and my dining companion by not welcoming us in when we arrived. They would sneak a peek at us once in a while and walk away in clear dismay whenever they saw that we still had a bit of food. Worse, they gave me my bill when I was still eating–specifically, when I was in the middle of wrapping a piece of bul dak galbi in lettuce leaves. I panicked a little because my hands were dirty and I didn’t want to reach for my wallet, but the waiter didn’t want to leave until I handed him the cash.
If you know me at all, you’d know that I’m never particular about service. I always think, hey, maybe you’re having an off day. As long as the food is consistently good, I often forget about poor service. But the service at Seoul Train Korean BBQ needed a lot of work. If you’re going to have a merry, kid-friendly themed restaurant, the least you can do is make sure you have a cheerful staff.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy some of the food, specifically the Samgyeopsal (P350), the Dak Galbi (P350), the Bul Dak Galbi (P370), and the Kimchi Bokkeumbap (P260). The kimchi from Seoul Train is a bit brinier than I would like, however. The sourness overpowered my palate. Banchan options were also severely limited.
Meanwhile, the Woo Samgyeop (P400) was too dry and tasteless, even when dipped in sauce. Note that the kitchen cooked this for me, so it wasn’t I who overcooked the beef. After learning that the restaurant’s Woo Samgyeop needed a bit of improvement, I tried the Ggotsal (P550) on my next visit to see if it had better quality. It did–the Ggotsal was much better seasoned and had better texture, despite being a bit chewy.
The Galbi Tang (P370), served boiling hot, was positively comforting, if not for the tough and chewy beef short ribs it came with. The severely overpriced Haemul Pajeon (P400) tasted much like eggs and didn’t have enough seafood to keep me happy. I also prefer my pajeon a bit crispier.
In general, the food is relatively pricey, which would have been fine if the service, the quality of the beef, the servings, and the banchan were exceptional. The owners should also look into revamping the lighting fixtures in the dining area to make them more Instagram-friendly. Most of my photos were overexposed because of the harsh lighting.
Overall, however, I love the concept, the visuals, and even the loud music. There’s so much to love about Seoul Train; I hope it makes all the improvements it needs in order to make every dining experience joyful and memorable for their customers.
Seoul Train Korean BBQ is located at 28 Sergeant Esguerra Avenue, South Triangle, Tomas Morato, Quezon City
EDIT: I’ve spoken with the owner of Seoul Train and he suggested that it’s better to cook the meat on your table rather than to have the kitchen cook the meat, especially for the Woo Samgyeop. Since I arrived late during my third visit, I wasn’t able to take advantage of this opportunity, but I recommend that you follow the owner’s advice when you choose to dine at Seoul Train in the future.