(SPOT.ph) From K-Pop to K-Dramas, it seems like our fascination for all things Korean will never wane. It’s a very colorful culture with creative cuisine to boot, and it’s a good thing we can easily enjoy their dishes.
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Here are the top places in Metro Manila for great Korean food:
Gaja Korean Kitchen
Though the name suggests some sort of home cooking, Gaja Korean Kitchen is anything but. They present an elevated version of Korean cuisine, which is also reflective of the restaurant’s upscale vibe. The food here goes beyond traditional as they get creative with classics like the Galbi-jim (P850), which uses Kitayama Wagyu short ribs that are cooked sous vide for 48 hours until tender. Complement it with their Kimbap Aburi (P360), bulgogi-stuffed rice rolls topped with torched cheese sauce. It will make you want to come back again for their other creative takes on Korean food.
Gaja Korean Kitchen is at 8445 Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City.
Soban K-Town Grill
Despite their name translating to “small tray or table,” there’s nothing minuscule about Soban. This international franchise has seven branches scattered around the Metro. Each location is spacious enough for large groups, so you can bring your whole family or posse along. Share an order of Premium BBQ Combo Set (P2,200), a set for four that includes house specialties, japchae (stir-fried glass noodles), pajeon (green onion pancake), plus unlimited white rice, soup, and side dishes. You can even upgrade to kimchi fried rice for only P20 per head. Soban also serves Kor-Mex fusion dishes like the K-Taco (P145/two pieces; P220/three pieces) with barbecued pork and veggies wrapped in a flour tortilla, or the Korrito (P180), a burrito stuffed with grilled pork or beef. Who knows, these might just convert you into a fusion lover.
See a list of Soban K-Town Grill branches.
Masil Charcoal Grill
For K-barbecue fans, Masil Charcoal Grill is a must-visit—though we think you know that already. They offer premium USDA-quality pork and beef that are available individually and in set menus. Their Premium Set A (P4,200/good for four) is worth splurging on, with prime rib-eye steak, top blade, beef short ribs, and side dishes, among others. You can also fill up on dishes like the Budae Jjigae (P800/regular; P1,200/large), a spicy sausage stew with ramyeon noodles, or the Bulgogi Jeongol (P880), USDA beef marinated in special sauce and served with assorted veggies and broth. Both are good for sharing, and you can even pair these with soju or plum liquor.
Masil Charcoal Grill has branches at 4/F, Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City; and Tiendesitas, Frontera Verde, Ortigas Avenue corner C5, Ugong, Pasig City.
Like many other establishments, Yoree offers K-BBQ—their name means “to cook,” after all. But instead of going for the usual, why not try something different? Cheese fans would enjoy the Cheesy Buldak (P798)—dip the spicy fried chicken into a pool of melted mozzarella and cheddar cheese for a fun and delicious appetizer that’s great for sharing. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the wide selection, you can go for the featured sets to get a little taste of everything. Lunch A (P698), for instance, comes with appetizers, japchae (stir-fried glass noodles), dolsot bibimbap (stone rice bowl), kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), dak galbi (spicy stir-fried chicken), and even patbingsu (shaved ice dessert). It’s filling and offers great value for your money.
See a list of Yoree Korean Barbecue Dining branches.
Leann’s Tea House
It might be easy to miss Leann’s Tea House with their low-key signage—especially in South Triangle’s lively food scene. But you’ll be surprised by the good eats they have to offer despite their modest interiors. Their unlimited Korean barbecue offerings are quite affordable—Unli Pork (P399) and the CPB Premium (P599) come with all the lettuce, sides, soup, and rice that you can eat. Go for the premium set that has mouthwatering Meltique Beef (fatty Australian beef) and other top cuts. If you’re still hungry, fill up with their Jajangmyeon (P220), black bean noodles that are popular in Korea. Plus, they have a frozen version of Red Ginseng Tea (P120) to wash everything down.
Leann’s Tea House is at 105-R Mother Ignacia Avenue corner Scout Madrinan Street, South Triangle, Quezon City.
Jin Joo Korean Grill
Jin Joo Korean Grill sets themselves apart from other K-BBQ places with their playful vibe and unique take on Korean food. Take Jin Joo’s 8 Flavors (P1,560), which features eight flavors of samgyupsal. This allows you to sample more in one go and maybe even find an unusual favorite—perhaps the red-wine flavored pork belly? Not to mention that it comes with six kinds of unlimited banchan (side dishes) that they change every day. Another fun dish is the Cheese Dung Galbi (P950) that allows you to dip barbecued baby back ribs into a heavenly combo of melted mozzarella and cheddar. This also comes with rice, corn, steamed egg, and kimchi, which you can mix together with the leftover cheese to create your own fried rice. You’ll have fun playing chef.
Jin Joo Korean Grill has branches at 5/F SM Aura Premier, C5 Road corner 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City; 2/F The Podium, ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Mandaluyong City; Eastwood Citywalk 1, Libis, Quezon City; G/F Glorietta 4, Ayala Center, Makati City; and 2/F Main Mall, SM Mall of Asia, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.
Kaya has been around even before hallyu hit our shores. They first opened in 1993 and more than two decades and eight branches later, they continue to cook up a storm of tasty Korean dishes. You can’t go wrong with Kalbi Jjim (P380) or the classic Korean beef stew that you’ll find as comforting as if you grew up having this. Hard to find elsewhere is the Muksabal (P360), an acorn jelly soup that has assorted vegetables and chopped kimchi. They have a slew of dishes with tongue-twister names that might pleasantly surprise—that is, if you're willing to take your taste buds on a food adventure.
Kaya has branches in Rockwell, Jupiter Street, and Glorietta in Makati City; The Podium, Mandaluyong City; and Santolan Town Plaza, San Juan City.
At Namoo House, you can get as close as possible to what they serve in Seoul without leaving the country—after all, they’re a local franchise of Seoul’s popular K-BBQ restaurant called Maple Tree House. They’ve got smokeless grills here, so go for the unlimited samgyupsal if you chance upon their promos. But even without a discount, you’ll still be satisfied with their high-quality beef and pork like the Marinated Boneless Short Ribs (P850/150g) or the Kurobota Pork Belly (P650/150g) imported from Japan. There’s also the Special Jumbo Beef Rib Soup (P500/2 ribs) sure to coax out your inner carnivore. Their upscale yet cozy ambience adds to a pretty memorable dining experience.
Namoo House is at G/F Uptown Mall, Uptown Bonifacio
Jumong Korean Restaurant
You know a Korean restaurant is legit if you can find a lot of Koreans eating there, and Jumong is just that. This hidden gem in Poblacion may be quite challenging to find, but once you do, you’ll be rewarded with food cooked just like Koreans would at their own homes. Start your meal with a tasty fish cake soup, Odeng Tang (P350) before you make your way to the grilled pork or beef that they cook for you, or the mains like Bosam (P800/medium; P1,000/large), steamed pork and veggies that you wrap and eat with your hands. You’ll find a lot of traditional dishes at this no-frills restaurant, and what’s good is that you can head over whenever hunger strikes any time of day since they’re open 24 hours—good for your late-night K-food cravings.
Jumong Korean Restaurant is at 5650 Don Pedro Street, Poblacion, Makati City.
Jang Ga Nae
In this underrated restaurant, unlimited Korean barbecue takes center stage. Ready your bellies before you head to Jang Ga Nae for six kinds of all-you-can-eat premium pork and beef served with chicken galbi (spicy stir-fried chicken), ramen, mozzarella cheese, and steamed egg—all for P499. Change things up with the Dol Sot Bibimbap (P350), which has mixed rice and an assortment of crunchy, savory veggies—you won’t even miss the meat.
Jang Ga Nae has branches at 8137 Plaza Ortigas, Jose Escriva Drive, Ortigas, Pasig City; and 237 Aguirre Avenue, BF Homes, Parañaque City.