Here’s the low-down on the latest action-
The Beef: Owned by the same group as Professor Lee and Jeju Izakaya, Belloco is the OG spot that this “Korean Fusion” empire was all built upon. My first visit was perhaps as far as 7 years ago, and left an indelibly positive impression. It had fallen off my radar for a few years in between until a recent visit. Expectations can be a dangerous thing – I went in with high idealized hopes but they were slightly dashed, perhaps off-put by the most minute of details.
To start, we ordered a bottle of white wine before perusing the food menu. After placing our food order, we waited for our wine...then waited some more…until the food started arriving. Where was our wine?! We were told that it was taking longer bc they “were polishing the glasses”. Ok but there are glasses on the bar, where is the bottle? It is extremely frustrating when you can “almost” see your order and meanwhile the other half of it is just “chillin” there (pun intended). Finally the bottle did appear and was served to us…a tad cooler than lukewarm. As suspected, 25 minutes of “polishing the glasses” was most likely the wet paper towel in freezer trick. Nevertheless, an A for effort.
Another nitpick, and this is probably a positive for some. I see what they’re trying to do with this, but each place setting got its own bottle of water in place of the requisite “free” water. It’s indeed a thoughtful hygienic touch but feels rather wasteful/unfriendly to the environment. Didn’t actually ask, but…are refills free? I’d like a case of Belloco water to take home with me.
Lastly, the food. We ordered the Denjang Porkneck Pan Steak, fried chicken with sweet & spicy sauce, and ricotta cheese salad with sweet balsamic. The salad was so-so, on the puny side and stingy on the ricotta and balsamic. The porkneck was a sizzling platter of grilled meat, a head of baked garlic, raw spinach, and kimchi – the accompaniments were a bit unconventional (thus fusion) but the other sides overpowered the porkneck so I preferred the dish deconstructed. Fried chicken was a winner, the perfect-sized nibbles with just the right amount of crunch and flavor. Food feels slightly more sophisticated and beautifully presented vs what you would get at a typical Korean restaurant, would def return for slightly more upscale Korean fusion although it honestly doesn't feel that "creative".
The Gang: Mostly Chinese diners in smaller groups and dates.
The Motive: No fuss Korean dinner with a few friends, could also be good for bigger groups. When you’re in the mood for Korean/BBQ dishes but don’t want to get hands-on the grill or leave the restaurant smelling like smoked meat.
The Damage: ~450RMB for 2, including a bottle of wine (reasonably well priced bottles starting at 128RMB).
The Down n’ Dirty: Decently clean, can’t complain or further elaborate.
SmartReviews is SmartShanghai’s crack squad of amateur reviewers, eating their way around the city and writing about it. They have been chosen from a large pool of applicants and given a set of strict guidelines to follow to make sure their reviews are honest, informed and fair to both potential customers and the restaurants themselves.