Interesting Korean dishes you should try

From vegetarian food, porridge and flavoured rice wine to house-made noodles, tuck in on these interesting Korean offerings to feed your Hallyu heart, soul and digestive tract.

WHERE: Insadong Korea Town
WHERE: Insadong Korea Town
11 Mar 2015

WHERE: Insadong Korea Town

We’re not sure Insadong Korea Town at Resorts World Sentosa, named after the famous street in Seoul that’s home to traditional Korean craft shops and restaurants, is a worthy replica since we've never visited the real thing. Judging, though, by how packed the six-week-old eatery was, K-pop-loving Singaporeans sure love it.

Boss Lena Sim — the thirtysomething founder of MOF@My Izakaya and Dolce Tokyo — offers K-culture fans a seamless Korean food and shopping experience here. She roped in a Korean F&B operator to help set up the spacious air-conditioned eatery which seats more than 300 and looks like a hybrid of a food court and restaurant.

The vibe is bustling and slightly kitschy with Korean-style murals and décor in the country’s national colours. She says everything from (some of) the chefs and ingredients to the pushcarts, paper lamps and furniture, is from the Motherland. A retail shop and over a dozen carts in the alfresco area will hawk Korean souvenirs, accessories and toys from next month.

But back to the grub. Here’s how it works: Order your food at any of the six touch screen machines, a DIY system common in Korea and Japan, which is Lena’s solution to easing the labour crunch here. Feed money into the machine to pay and tickets with details on where to pick up your food will be dispensed. Collect your meals, then grab a seat.

On the menu: Over 100 food items. There’re traditional Korean faves like Ginseng Chicken Soup, Korean-Chinese dishes such as an ingenious xiao long bao in kimchi soup, Korean-Western offerings like a delicately sweet Pumpkin Spaghetti with bacon, and even (non-Korean) Suckling Pig. Sizeable dessert and beverage options round up your meal.

#01-30/31/32/33, 26 Sentosa Gateway, S098138, Tel: 6238-8221.
Open daily. Mon-Thurs & Sun 11.30am-10pm; Fri & Sat 11.30am-10.30pm. Last orders 9.15pm & 9.30pm. http://insadong.sg

WHAT TO ORDER: Mushroom Bulgogi Hot Pot ($40; feeds four)
WHAT TO ORDER: Mushroom Bulgogi Hot Pot ($40; feeds four)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: Mushroom Bulgogi Hot Pot ($40; feeds four)

We enjoyed this huge pot which arrives with tender slices of rib-eye, a mountain of golden, king oyster and shiitake mushrooms, chewy Korean vermicelli and spring onions in a sweet soy-based braising sauce made from the Korean head chef’s family recipe. Think sukiyaki instead of Chinese steamboat.



WHAT TO ORDER: J-Cone ($6)
WHAT TO ORDER: J-Cone ($6)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: J-Cone ($6)

A ‘pipe’ made of popped corn pumped with vanilla soft serve ice cream makes this a crispy-icy treat. It’s named after its ‘J’ shape, though our sample looks more like a… smile.

WHAT TO ORDER: Watermelon Soju ($30 for 10 cups)
WHAT TO ORDER: Watermelon Soju ($30 for 10 cups)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: Watermelon Soju ($30 for 10 cups)

Blended watermelon flesh topped with a bottle of Soju and shaved ice, served in its rind. Very refreshing — just remember it’s not pure fruit juice, so don’t hoover most of it by yourself!

Bottom line: Slightly kitschy but fun, with reasonably tasty food that’s not too pricey. Worth more than a novelty visit.

WHERE: The Boneless Kitchen
WHERE: The Boneless Kitchen
11 Mar 2015

WHERE: The Boneless Kitchen

Young adults selling vegetarian food instead of artisanal bakes? How refreshing. University grads Rose Tan, 25, and Wang Xiu Dian, 24 (right in pic) decided to sell Korean vegetarian grub when they chanced upon the cuisine during a trip to Taiwan (Xiu Dian is vegetarian). Surprised by how tasty it was, and realising that it wasn’t available in Singapore, they decided to debut their business at an industrial estate in Tai Seng. Last March, they relocated to a humbly renovated, air-conditioned café along Jalan Bukit Merah (beside the popular Chinese café Nature Vegetarian) and gave their eatery its new current name.

On the menu: Nine main dishes like Bibimbap and Kimchi Fried Rice, and appetisers like mini Kimchi Pancakes and Kimchi Dumplings, all prepared by Xiu Dian and her assistants. Because Korean marinades contain plenty of garlic and onion which some strict Buddhist vegetarians avoid, all the dishes here — including even the kimchi — are free from those aromatics. Also on offer is a small selection of Italian pastas and baked rice.

#03-4458, 11 Jln Bukit Merah, S150011. Tel: 9023-2725.
Open daily except Mon. 11.30am-9pm. Last orders 8.45pm. www.facebook.com/#!/thebonelesskitchen

WHAT TO ORDER: Bibimbap ($7.50)
WHAT TO ORDER: Bibimbap ($7.50)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: Bibimbap ($7.50)

This colourful dish with vegetarian ‘ham’ and assorted crunchy veggies comes sizzling in a hotstone pot. We had ours with house-made hot bean paste sauce though it’s also available with cheddar cheese, curry, tom yum or kimchi sauce. Tastes rather good despite the absence of garlic. 

WHAT TO ORDER: Kimchi Dumplings ($3)
WHAT TO ORDER: Kimchi Dumplings ($3)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: Kimchi Dumplings ($3)

These deep-fried munchkins stuffed with sour, spicy kimchi is our favourite dish here. We wish its filling was more moist, though.

Bottom line: Not much ambience to speak of, but the Korean veggie bites here are a refreshing departure from our usual diet.

WHERE: Joo
WHERE: Joo
11 Mar 2015

WHERE: Joo

Joo founders Jamie Lim, 37, and Kristin Lim, 34, enjoy a tipple after work (they also own E!ght Korean BBQ and Sticky rock candy store), so they decided to open their own bar, specialising in house-brewed makgeolli (say “mak-gaw-lee”) and modern Korean plates.

Joo is the first in Singapore to brew its own makgeolli (the oldest alcoholic beverage in Korea is made here by fermenting organic rice with purified water in vats) and serve it on tap. The three-storey gastrobar near Bugis is sleekly designed in shades of black and copper, with pinewood furniture imported from Seoul. Learn about the drinking habits of Koreans with the eatery’s fun murals. For example, “When clinking glasses with someone more senior than you, always ensure your glass hits below the rim of his/her glass”. Now you know.

On the menu: Five varieties of house-made makgeolli. There’s also beer and wine if you prefer those. To pair with the booze: modern Korean-inspired snacks like Baby Eel Paper ($12) dusted with lime zest and chilli salt, along with more substantial main courses.

5 Tan Quee Lan St, S188094, Tel: 8138-1628.

Open daily 5.30pm-midnight. Last orders 11pm (food); midnight (drinks). www.facebook.com/joobarsg

WHAT TO ORDER: Makgeolli Sampler ($35 for five)
WHAT TO ORDER: Makgeolli Sampler ($35 for five)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: Makgeolli Sampler ($35 for five)

This milky, sweetish tipple with a gentle alcoholic content of about eight per cent is purportedly good for digestion and, ahem, even slowing down the ageing process. The sampling portion offers the pleasantly light original flavour, tangy yucha (Korean for yuzu) and three other rotating fruity blends. We like the fragrant Peach one best.

WHAT TO ORDER: Joo Bossam ($28)
WHAT TO ORDER: Joo Bossam ($28)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: Joo Bossam ($28)

For mains, the Slow Roasted Mangalitsa Belly ($32) is lardy and yummy, though we prefer this daintier boiled Mangalitsa pork belly version, eaten with a fiery radish salad and wrapped in yucha-marinated cabbage kimchi. The zesty veggies contrast nicely with the fatty meat.

Bottom line: Creative mod Korean bites, lovely fruity makgeolli and a stylish setting make this a hip new joint to check out. Perfect for a girls’ night out.

WHERE: Guksu 1945 Homemade Noodle House
WHERE: Guksu 1945 Homemade Noodle House
11 Mar 2015

WHERE: Guksu 1945 Homemade Noodle House

Ramen joints are a dime a dozen in Singapore, but a Korean noodle house is certainly not something you see in every mall. One-month-old Guksu (‘noodles’ in Korean) is conceptualised by Korean executive chef Kang Heunseong, 32, whose late grandma created her own wheat flour noodles in 1945 (hence the year in Guksu’s name) as a staple in her restaurant to combat the rice shortage in post-war Korea. The press release says the noodles “saved her family and the town’s schools and hospitals from starvation”. Dramatic stuff.

Grandma’s recipes are now lovingly recreated in Singapore. Guksu is located beside Kimchi, a popular casual Korean eatery at Suntec City Mall. Both are owned by Haden Hee (above, right), 33, brother of erstwhile actor Julian.

On the menu: The preservative-free noodles are house-made on-site with imported Korean wheat flour. There are three options: So Meon (like mee kia), Jung Meon (kinda like Chinese yellow noodles) or Kal Guksu (like mee pok, and the yummiest). They are served dry with Korean sweet chilli sauce or with four types of broth: clam, prawn, beef or anchovy. Also available are dishes like the awesome Korean Fried Chicken (right).

#02-385 Suntec City, 3 Temasek Blvd, S038983 Tel: 6334-7950.

Open daily 11am-10.30pm. Last orders 9.30pm. www.facebook.com/guksu1945

WHAT TO ORDER: Doenjang Prawn Guksu ($13.90)
WHAT TO ORDER: Doenjang Prawn Guksu ($13.90)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: Doenjang Prawn Guksu ($13.90)


Our choice of Jung Meon is reminiscent of softer ban mian, so go for the thicker Kal Guksu instead. The noodles soak in a full-bodied prawn broth topped with goodies like two tiger prawns, bean sprouts and hard-boiled egg (don’t expect a wobbly yolk). Kinda like local hae mee-meets-Japanese ramen. Sadly, the noodles get soggy fast. So gobble like a glutton unless you like them limper than a tai-tai’s wrist. 

WHAT TO ORDER: Korean Fried Chicken Drumstick ($3.90 each; $11 for three; $21 for six)
WHAT TO ORDER: Korean Fried Chicken Drumstick ($3.90 each; $11 for three; $21 for six)
11 Mar 2015

WHAT TO ORDER: Korean Fried Chicken Drumstick ($3.90 each; $11 for three; $21 for six)

Gorgeously crispy, juicy chook available in five flavours. Get the super addictive Garlic Soya Sauce-coated one.

Bottom line: The noodles are decent if you don’t mind the fact that they’re not the al dente sort (which we prefer), but the broths are pretty good. Ironically, our favourite thing here isn’t noodles but the fried chicken.

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