Smile BBQ

~Review by Chuck Bradley
I wish these charming ladies the very best on their new venture. This location (formerly Maxine’s and La Perlita) has not been kind to the last two or three restaurants that have opened here. They are just bubbling over with enthusiasm about their menu and anxious to please. I know I’ll be back. I hope the community will give them the support they will need.

The name suggests this might be a place to tie into some Ribs, Beef Brisket or Pulled Pork, but such is not the case. It’s really an Asian Fusion type eatery. They have a small but wonderful buffet with price points beginning at $3.95, depending on you many items you select. They also have fresh Sushi dishes which are very reasonably priced.

I chose the three item buffet for a miserly $4.95. I had Spicy Squid and Vegetables, Teriyaki Chicken and Yakisoba Noodles. It also included a delicious Leek and Beef Soup. The soup changes daily. You might get Egg Flower or Hot and Spicy. The food was very good. The Squid was a pleasant surprise as steam table Squid is often rubbery. I think getting there early to enjoy the best of this dish may be the key.

Good food, great value and solid friendly service should be a recipe for success!

Smile BBQ
635 Chemeketa ST NE
Salem, OR 97301
(503) 585-1530


Poppy said...

Chuck, i wish you had taken some photos. it's one of the reasons i enjoy eatsalem.

Jia said...

After reading this, I had to go try it for myself. I got the buffet special today and a rainbow roll to go. The prices are excellent, I don't know how they make any money!

It was very busy there for lunch today and the ladies that work there are adorable. I think they were a little overwhelmed though. They didn't have the squid that you mentioned. I really want to try it. Maybe I'll go back tomorrow. I also want to try their bulgogi.

Anonymous said...

I've been missing Korean food (any other Korean restaurants in town?) and hoping *somebody* will do well in this space (still mourning the pupusas), so I popped in today.

I found the menu confusing (they all seemed to be dinner entrees) and in need of some editing. I was in a hurry, so I decided to opt for the special written on the white board--spicy chicken teriyaki.

I was pleasantly surprised to get a full bento lunch with delicious chicken (Korean-style that is more spicy than teriyaki, which is how I like it), white rice, kim chee and pickled daikon (I think), two other Korean side dishes (banchan)--one was black beans and the other some sort of gelatinous things marinated in sesame and soy--it's better than it sounds! Also a small salad with excellent sesame dressing. All for $7 and served quickly. I'll be back!

Anonymous said...

After some research, I believe what I had was Kongjaban (sweet black beans) and Nokdumuk (mung bean jelly). Yay!

Jia said...

I was wondering about the menu too, but I was told by the ladies that the "dinner only" label on their menu was just a misprint, and that you can get all the items on the menu at any time. :)

gstatty said...

I went to Smile BBQ last night, right after work and reading this article. I just love Korean food and was elated that finally there was a Korean restaurant in the Salem area since I usually have to go to Portland, Eugene or L.A. for good Korean food. I ordered the bibimbap which is a rice dish with spinach, carrots, bean sprout kimchi, diced chicken topped with a fried egg served in stone pot. The waitress also brought me hot sauce to go along with it. My girlfriend ordered the bento dinner with vegetable tempura and california rolls. Everything was fantastic and the ladies that run the place are really nice. I also had never had the shredded variant of radish kimchee, so that was a nice treat. The tempura was perfectly crunchy and my girlfriend said that the sushi was also very good. Needless to say we will be returning and hope that Smile BBQ will stay in business in Salem for a long time to come.

Chuck Bradley said...

I think these ladies have a hit! I stopped by well after the lunch bunch should have been gone and found the place ¾ full! With their great (and ridiculously reasonably priced) food and their delightful attitudes, they deserve success. I had my fingers crossed as this location has spelled doom for several prior tenants.

Enough commentary! To the food! Today I had their Galbi dinner (BBQ Beef Short Ribs, Rice, Julienned Ginger, Green Salad, Cucumbers with Red Bell Pepper and Kim Chi). The Ribs (there were 8 of them) were delicious. I’m usually more of a Pork Rib kind of guy, but these were superb. And the Kim Chi, I love that stuff! I think I could sit down and eat a plate of it. Probably not without repercussions though.

Next time She Who Must Be Obeyed must come. She’s just getting into Sushi and I’ll bet theirs will blow her doors off! I’m up for some Bulgogi.

Chuck Bradley said...

There is a sign in the window today: "Closed for remodel". There was no activity mid-day.