316 St Pauls Tce, Fortitude Valley
I went to Koh-Ya a while back and really enjoyed the experience. It's a Japanese-style barbecue buffet - not just raw stuff but also plenty of salads, sushi, drinks and desserts. Somewhere online, I read that there was another restaurant in the valley called Jong Ga, which was meant to be a cheaper but less comprehensive and intricate version of Koh-Ya. I like the idea of 'cheaper' so last night, we went to see how good it is.
Jong Ga is on the second floor of a building, in a (in my opinion) slightly scary part of the valley. You pay upfront - for us, it was $26ish per person for the BBQ buffet. The dining space is LARGE and when we first went in, it was freakishly empty. After 20min or so, the place was 3/4 full... which just goes to prove that I eat too early in the evening XD.
You can start plating up straight away. There are a few buffet tables - 2 with raw food for the BBQ and 2 with cooked food you can eat as is. The selection included: Korean potato noodles, sushi, salad, veggie and tofu fritters plus other misc items that I can't really name.
My favorites out of the ready-to-eat selection included the fried chicken and later on, the oranges. I'll get to that later. I didn't like the sushi (bit dry) but the chicken was really crisp and awesome.
While we were munching away, a staff member came and set up our BBQ plate. We quickly went to get some raw food for the hot plate. There's a range of beef, chicken and pork, including marinated pieces, tongue, brisket, belly meat etc. If I remember correctly, there was a small amount of seafood too - octopus, perhaps? We didn't pick any of that though.
The hotplate is un-oiled but we asked and it's supposed to be like that. Periodically, someone comes and changes your hotplate so you get a fresh, unburnt one. It was a bit annoying at first but we got used to it.
I liked the pork belly meat dipped in sauce and wrapped in lettuce leaf. On the subject of sauce, there's a decent supply and several to choose from. The ox tongue and beef brisket was also nice. Most of the meat is oily... you can see the fat melt and drip into the grill. BBQ is definitely something I'll have in moderation.
There is chilled water or honey tea (oddly placed in the same refrigerated booth as the raw meat) to quench your thirst. If you need meal fillers, there is rice available too.
I got full on meat really quickly and spent the rest of my time eating oranges. The oranges were good - not Godly good but because I haven't had oranges in a long time, I literally had about 3-4 whole oranges.
In comparison to Koh-Ya, Jong Ga has a smaller selection. The buffet style is different; here, you help yourself but at Koh-Ya, you let the staff know what you want. There is a monetary penalty at Jong Ga for leaving left over food, so you're encouraged to only take what you're prepared to eat. Fair enough.
The meal was considerably cheap but I would have benefited more if I had a bigger appetite.