Even stepping out of your car in the parking lot, you can already smell the meat cooking.
It’s the familiar odor of grilled meats: marinated chicken, seasoned steak and succulent pork, but with unfamiliar, more exotic undertones that start the wheels of your hunger rolling.
And as you head inside the cabin-style, stone-façade building that once unsuccessfully housed a Chinese restaurant and before that a seafood joint, the wonderful grill smells overtake the senses in a blast of spice and warm air.
The restaurant is Q Korean Steakhouse, situated off Buford Highway and Market Place Boulevard, near Chili’s, Bruster’s and the Cumming Holiday Inn Express. And even though the restaurant hasn’t officially opened yet, on a Friday or Saturday night locals have started flocking to Q for a taste of all you can eat Korean barbecue.
If at this point you are asking yourself, what is Korean barbeque, Q Korean Steakhouse employee Samantha Richardson puts it like this.
“It's kind of like a family-style, do-it-yourself experience," Richardson said. "It’s just like any other barbecue I guess; it just has some Korean flavor twists."
And she means do-it-yourself literally. At Q, and most Korean barbeque restaurants, each table is fully equipped with its own circular gas grill, which patrons sit around and grill meats and vegetables to their desired tastes, from platters of raw ingredients, like fondue or hibachi.
But unlike fondue or hibachi, at Q you pay one price and you can order endless waves of food from their 15 different meat options, including seven different cuts and flavors of beef, pork, chicken and shrimp.
In particular, the seasoned rib-eye steak and the pork belly are standouts at Q, for their own particular reasons.
The rib-eye steak is the easiest to quantify. Coming pre-sauced, pre-chunked and ready for the grill, after a few flips on the grill, this steak is a perfect blend of crispy edges and tender flesh that really makes a good steak shine.
If you’ve never had pork belly, I challenge you to think about the thickest cut, buttery-est, crispy bacon that you have ever tasted, then put that on a grill and double it. That’s pork belly.
And the meats don’t come on their own. Each is served with a variety of different sauces, ranging in flavors from creamy Yum Yum to the sweet and spicy gochujang chili, along with side dishes and relishes like Beef Daikon Soup and house Kimchi (a fermented chili cabbage). So you can mix, match, swap and combine to your heart’s content.
Once you are seated and order your first rounds of meats and sides, Richardson said that a server is happy to come out with your food to show you how the process works and help you use the grill, if you need it.
On Tuesday, local Forsyth County resident Lisa Kemppinen and her friend, Suzanne Texter, stopped into Q for lunch after hearing about it for so long.
Both said that they had never tried out Korean barbecue and were impressed by the size and pace of the meal, the variety of flavors and how helpful the restaurant staff was.
"It was very original, very fun. Everyone should come try it," Texter said after her meal.
FCN EXTRA: Q Korean Steakhouse: A do-it-yourself meat adventure
It's kind of like a family-style, do-it-yourself experienceSamantha Richardson
Both said that they got a “backyard barbecue” experience from the meal, with time to talk and catch up while their food cooked right in front of them, and no pressure to finish and get out the door.
"You're cooking your meat, you see it being cooked, you're visiting with friends and it's delicious – a treat," Kemppinen said. “It was nice visiting, and it was slow-paced.”
According to Richardson, this is one of the biggest selling points that Q has to offer its patrons: a dining experience that mixes quality and service together.
"I think that it's something everyone can enjoy, because it is barbecue, it’s not like set dishes," she said. "Even if you've never had it, they are pretty basic meats that everyone can enjoy."
For more information about Q Korean Steakhouse visit them on Facebook at Q Korean Steakhouse and call (770) 406- 8441 for hours and other info.