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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Ashley American Grill & Salad

Ashley American Grill & Salad is a self-service buffet restaurant situated on the eighth floor of the decadent Newcore Outlet building, which is located a few blocks from the Hyundai Department Store in Samsandong, in the direction of Lotte Mart.

If you go there for dinner on a Saturday evening, as I did, the chances are that you’ll be asked for your name and you may be waiting up to twenty minutes for a free table. In retrospect we were told twenty minutes, but in reality we were seated between 10-15 minutes of registering our names.

There are several comfortable benches to sit on outside the reception counter if you do find yourself waiting. Plus, you’re in the Newcore Outlet, so you could wander around the eighth floor to take a gander at the other restaurants nearby, or even further afield to the department stores on the other floors. The area is far from cramped, so you will not be uncomfortable while you wait.

Inside you will find two main sections to the restaurant – three  main dining areas and the kitchen/self-service area.

The rose patterned tablecloths in the dining area may look like your grandmother’s curtains, and the yellow wallpaper does lend the dining area a certain 1950’s living room feel. On the walls you will see framed wall calendars from different years in history.

Ashley American Grill & Salad appears to be marketing itself as a mid-range dining experience. It’s a budget restaurant by all accounts, not promising Michelin-star cuisine yet offering a wide range of salads and soups with interesting and never-before-seen combinations, such as the Carbonara Ddokboki for example, which I found delicious. It’s here that you can also find potato wedges – a rare occurrence in restaurants here in Korea.

For 12500 won per head you can eat handsomely, taking as many return trips to the self-service area as you see fit.

Alternatively, you can order the steak, but that’s going to set you back 41000 or 47000 won depending on which size you opt for. If you stick with the salad bar then you can pick up some garlic fried chicken and also some slices of pork, so carnivores won’t be disappointed.

The primary self-service area is split into different sections. First along the row at the starting point is the Soup section. Grab a bowl and pour yourself a dollop of mushroom, broccoli, Japanese soybean or curried soup.

Then comes the Spaghetti section. Watch out for the spicy garlic spaghetti. It must be loaded with red chilli paste because not only did it blow my head off, it contaminated many other non-spicy items on my plate at the merest physical contact!

You will next find the Mixed Salads counter. These are very typically western in style, including chicken and broccoli salad, mango and cucumber salad and the aforementioned carbonara ddokboki. You can make your own salad here, with six dressings to choose from.

Imagine my delight when I discovered the presence of green grapes! The variety of seedless green grapes that we are familiar with in our homelands.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Korean purple grapes. We all know it’s a little tedious having to spit out 5 or 6 tiny seeds with each single grape (and, in my case, the skin too), but the flavour is so good. And anything grape flavoured, such as the yoghurts, or grape juice here, is superb. But it was refreshing to taste green grapes for the first time in eight months.

The penultimate section is the Green & Fruit counter. Help yourself to fresh pineapple, apple and oranges. At the final counter, the Dessert section, I took some chocolate cake and some cheesecake. Also in the dessert section, which was particularly unorthodox, was garlic bread and nacho chips with nacho meat paste.

One of the attractions of the salad bar is the proximity to the chefs and that you can practically watch them cook all the food as you serve yourself some of the current batch.

And that’s not all. In the centre of the self-serve area there is a large bay in the centre which offers the facility to make your own bibimbap or janchiguksu. Everything is laid out there for you.

Drinks are included within the 12500 won per head fee, and of course you can help yourself to as many refills as you desire.

If your stomach is not entirely satisfied after all of this, then grab a scoop and serve yourself some blueberry or vanilla sherbet.

Due to the atmosphere, the style and range of food, and taking in the customer demographics on that Saturday night, I had the distinct impression that Ashley American Grill & Salad is a popular choice for Korean families to treat themselves to dinner.

There were many children present, and judging from the wide grins on their tiny faces the self-service style was the greatest novelty for them.

Ashley American Grill & Salad is excellent value for money. For 12500 won you can really go to town and fill yourself with several plates of food. A couple can be completely satisfied for a total of 25000 won.

As you exit Ashley American Grill & Salad you will notice that for 6900 won you can grab yourself a bucket of garlic fried chicken for take out. You shouldn’t need to, after an all-you-can-eat buffet, but it’s a nice touch on the restaurant’s part.