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Restaurant Review: Picnic Garden

The name Picnic Garden may deceive you, but it is no walk in the park.

Picnic Garden is an all you can eat Korean BBQ restaurant located on 14742 Northern Blvd. Flushing, NY in Queens. I was impressed by the fact that it’s all you can eat.

I often refer to Korean BBQ as “yakiniku,” which is actually a Japanese term to cook meat or vegetables on a grill, like hibachi (for my definition of hibachi, refer to my previous restaurant review).

As I walked in, I was amazed by the buffet because in my past yakiniku experiences, the restaurants provided a menu and charged by the plate. At Picnic Garden, they have a set price of $22.99 for lunch and $29.99 for dinner on weekends.

After my friends and I were seated, we immediately grabbed plates in the buffet line and piled on the food. The main attraction in yakiniku is meat. There was an assortment of thinly sliced beef, short ribs (kal-bi), beef/pork spareribs, spicy pork and chicken, Italian sausage (which I thought was interesting), and a thick bacon, just to name a few.

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The reason why I say that Picnic Garden is no walk in the park is because you cook your own meat. There is a grill in the center of the table that is used to cook the raw meats or grill vegetables such as raw onion slices and garlic.

I wasn’t feeling adventurous, unfortunately, so I decided to stick with the thinly sliced beef also known as “bulgogi.” I’m picky when it comes to pork, but I did try the thick bacon. It was chewier and fattier tasting than regular bacon. It is definitely worth trying. The bulgogi was tasty. It was marinated in a sweet soy sauce and satisfied my bulgogi craving.

The proper way Korean BBQ is to cook your meat on the grill and place it on a piece of lettuce. Usually, there are side dishes placed around the grill called “banchan” to add to the lettuce such as kimchi, garlic cloves, and namul (seasoned shredded root). You can also add a miso paste for flavor. So, it’s pretty much like a lettuce wrap.

I am unconventional when it comes to Korean BBQ/yakiniku. I cook the meat and just eat it with rice. Occasionally I’ll have some of the banchan, but I mainly focus on the meat. One of my favorite sides, however, is called ddukbokki. It is a simple dish of rice cake in a thick, spicy sauce. I’m a fan of mochi, so this is just right up my alley.

Picnic Garden had ddukbokki and kimchi, but not much of anything else that interested me. I think the only thing I was disappointed in with this place was the selection. I especially expected more thinly sliced beef. The quality of meat was also not like what I’ve had in the past, but it wasn’t terrible.

The only downfall of yakiniku, as always, is that your clothes smell like barbecue when you walk outside. There is no way to avoid it. The smoke will stain your clothes and hair.

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience for a decent cost. I’d go again because I do like that it is all you can eat. Next time, I definitely want to break out of my comfort box and venture into the spicy pork. As for quality, I’ve had better, but it is the first yakiniku I’ve had in New York and until I find a better place, this will do.

So, the next time you’re in the mood for yakiniku, barbecue in the garden–that is, Picnic Garden!

Food: 3/5
Ambiance: 5/5. I liked how the lights were dim and the sitting areas were like picnic tables! It gave off a casual vibe. I can imagine it’s great for people to meet after work.
Service: 5/5. The waitresses were great about coming over to cut up the meat with cooking scissors to make the meat manageable to cook.
Price: $$