Gloriously Gooey Cheese Is the Star at This K-Barbecue Restaurant
This could be the prettiest Korean barbecue restaurant.
Sibyullee Flavors of Seoul
G/F Ayala Malls the 30th, 30 Meralco Avenue, Pasig City
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday and Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) Set foot in Sibyullee at Ayala Malls The 30th, and you know immediately that you’re in for a different kind of Korean barbecue experience. Designed by C + Y Design Studio (headed by architect Deniece Yusun), the restaurant looks like a cross between a quaint café and an indoor garden, with pastel brick walls, hanging vines, and range hoods in a soft copper tone. It’s perfect for families and groups of friends, but you could easily bring your date here, too.
The latest restaurant of HappyFood Corp. (also behind Sariwon and Soban K-Town Grill) can be described in the same manner: young, fresh, and vibrant. Their menu, beyond Korean barbecue, also celebrates the equally colorful Korean street food scene of Myeongdong and Itaewon—where “street food” means lots and lots of cheese.
Galbi Cheese BBQ
“Their specialty in Itaewon is Korean cheese barbecue,” shares managing partner at HappyFood Corp., Dotz Tan-Dee. And at Sibyullee, they have three different kinds to satisfy every kind of barbecue craving. Korean barbecue regulars are no stranger to the Galbi Cheese BBQ (P950), which comes with barbecue-glazed beef short ribs but you can also get Dwaejigogo Cheese BBQ (P680) or barbecue pork strips and Dakgogi Cheese BBQ (P620) or chicken barbecue.
Now is the best time to say this: If you’ve never experienced dipping your barbecued meat in melted cheese, then you are missing out. There’s just something about the way the creamy cheese balances out the stronger sweet-spicy flavor of the barbecue glaze, so you can’t help but munch on one piece after the other. Each cheese barbecue set also comes with fresh vegetables, rice cakes, potato slices, buttered corn, and egg omelette—and if you want to dip each one in the melted cheese, we won’t stop you.
Volcano Kimchi Fried Rice
But if you think this is the peak of cheese heaven, you’ll be glad to know that you’re sorely mistaken because the best is yet to come. That "best," at least in terms of cheesiness, is the Volcano Kimchi Fried Rice (P499), and you have HappyFood Corp. to thank for this one. “It isn’t exactly something you’d find in Korea,” says Dotz, “but it is inspired by the way Koreans add cheese to their kimchi rice.”
Mix it all up!
You’ve probably had lava cake but you’ve never had lava rice—or at least not like this. The kimchi fried rice arrives on a cast iron plate, surrounded by lots of cheesy “lava.” The similarities don’t stop there: Your server will then pour warm melted cheese on top of your rice, so it flows down its slopes, just like lava on a volcano. Mix it all up until you get a gloriously gooey mess and then take your first spoonful. Indulge in the familiar spicy tang of kimchi fried rice, successfully crossing over into decadence through the rich cheese sauce. You wouldn’t want to have kimchi fried rice any other way after this.
Tornado Potato Hweori Gamja
Just in case you haven’t had your fill of cheese, Sibyullee has more treats to offer, inspired by the street food in Myeongdong. There’s the Tornado Potato Hweori Gamja (P155), or skewers of crispy fried potatoes coated in lots of cheese powder and a lightly spicy Korean dressing. The Cheese Ramyeon (P250) is a comforting dish, with Korean ramyeon topped with cheese—let the cheese melt into the broth to make it heartier.
Sibyullee, of course, also offers barbecued meat to grill, from Samgyupsal (P400/200g marinated, P350/200g, fresh) or pork belly to Dak Galbi (P380/200g, marinated) or boneless chicken thigh—and fans of HappyFood Corp. concepts Sariwon and Soban K-Town Grill will be glad to know that Sibyullee offers the exact same recipe here. But if there’s anything that’ll keep you coming back, it’s the promise of more gloriously gooey cheese.
Photos by Majoy Siason