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DIRTY DINING: Raw meat issues at Korean Garden

Posted at 10:45 PM, Oct 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-14 02:42:03-04

A Chinatown strip mall is running out of clean restaurants. In this week's second helping of Dirty Dining, we visit the fifth restaurant at the same address.

Kaya Sushi, Ichiza, Cafe Noodle, Tea Station. All have been on at least once -- some even repeat offenders. 

Now, with a 33-demerit C grade, we add Korean Garden to the growing Dirty Dining list in the strip mall on Spring Mountain Road and Arville Street.

We found Korean Garden in the midst of remodeling their dining area. The group of employees eating take-out pizza got up and scattered without a word.

We get the manager on the phone, however, they then ask us to leave.

We left, but soon thereafter, Korean Garden decided to address their health code violations in an on-camera interview. Why did the restaurant's owner change her mind?

"Well, the owner, Jeanie Kim, she's really concerned, wants to make sure that we're following regulations, that everything's up to snuff and that we're the best Korean restaurant in town," said Food Safety Consultant Chef Linda Burns, who Korean Garden hired to help whip things into shape.  

"A lot of times in ethnic restaurants there are some cultural differences," Burns explained.

Inspectors found raw beef liquid being dumped into a sink right next to cooked broccoli. A raw onion was sitting directly on a wire shelf. Some blood from raw meat hadn't been cleaned off a prep surface. And meat was defrosting in a deteriorating cardboard box on the floor.

Other open meat was defrosting in standing water in a pot on the floor next to the drain. Clean bowls weren't all that clean. And there was a repeat violation for the person in charge not being knowledgeable about basic food safety. 

Burns says the entire staff needs more training.

"When it's slow, you can follow all the rules and when it's busy then they say, oh, this slips and that slips. So that's part of the training is that they understand that it's not acceptable to not follow the rules."

Like prepping raw beef, then green onions on the same surface without cleaning in between.

"So there were some issues and there are some employees that are on probation because of certain procedural things that weren't being followed," Burns explained.

There was food uncovered throughout the kitchen, including meat in the freezer that had fallen onto the floor. 

And, there were flies in the restaurant.

"They're very concerned about that and if you look around... We should take a look in the kitchen," Burns said. "It's beautiful."

In the kitchen everything appeared in tip top shape.They've done some deep cleaning and are paying strict attention to health code requirements. 

Just about everything looked ready for re-inspection. But, on our way out a "galaxy" of liquid.

They say the greasy blue and yellow water mixture is evidence of their deep cleaning -- waiting to be disposed of properly.

Korean Garden still has a C grade. They anticipate re-inspection early next week.