jang won korean restaurant, chinatown

simple and comforting korean food – a good mix of banchan as well, and that pretty much seals the deal for me. it’s pretty nice to see actual koreans behind the counter, and it makes it all feel pretty much family-run – and with almost-full occupancy on a non-weekday, you know there’s a decent thing going.

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mad for garlic, suntec city

ok, you guys – we were surprised at this place. first, it’s a small italianesque menu in a restaurant first founded in korea. say what? and second, excessive use of that allium creates rather potent dragon’s breath – which isn’t the best thing for starting a night off.

so we entered with much trepidation and low expectations – all completely eradicated when the food started arriving. the food is remarkably tasty, the portions generous, and service staff friendly and enthusiastic (which made up for any hiccup).

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ssikkek korean grill bbq, novena

caution: lots of raw meat up ahead.

decent food-court-style buffet at united square – like a ever-so-slightly more sophisticated version of the secondary-school hangout that is seoul express.

I’m saying sorry upfront for only taking photos of the multi-colored bits of raw marinated meat – it was a large communal lunch not quite amenable to taking photos, and really – any pause in laying meat (and claim) to real estate on the grill results in someone swooping in under your nose to take your place.

plus, I was too busy eating to remember photos. but you know what cooked meat looks like, right? (full of excuses, I know.)

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auntie kim’s korean restaurant, thomson

pretty-good but certainly not-cheap korean at this rather traditional-looking restaurant along thomson road. my family doesn’t often have korean – my dad doesn’t quite fancy the cuisine – but I love it. the spiciness, all that meat, and the rather distinctive sweet-spicy flavor has me hooked.

it’s generally an expensive cuisine to indulge in locally – perhaps not as much as japanese, but nearly on par – and I never get why, since it shares very similar ingredients with chinese cooking, which very often doesn’t cost nearly this much. this place carries the same heavyish price tag, but the food is quite authentic and rather tasty – so it’s good for a once-in-a-while meal.

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seoul korean charcoal bbq restaurant, town

decently average korean barbecue/grill at chijmes. we have passed this place countless times after dinner at sun with moon, made a resolution to come here the next time – and consequently never did, until a visit a few weekends ago. it’s a surprisingly large restaurant specializing in the traditional korean grill, with a large dining area as well as some small rooms on the side.

the food wasn’t too bad actually, and was pretty much what you’d expect – marinated meats, lots of ban chan – those small plates of appetisers korean places dish out, but nothing really stood out for me. service alternated between being attentive (which was good, seeing as how most of the food was doled out by the waitresses) and harried (the restaurant wasn’t really full so this was rather strange) – I suppose its most stand-out quality is its convenient location.

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arang, london


decent korean in soho. I’ve walked past arang quite a few times while in soho, and I think I might have been here about 3 years ago but tonight it was a very good place for a meal with friends, and the ventilation system isn’t too bad for a korean bbq place. very much like assa, however, you smell like food when you leave – I think it’s a korean restaurant typeofthing.

our meal started off with the typical appetisers of seasoned bean sprouts, a potato salad and kimchee, the last of which I still am unable to appreciate. it’s sort of like my dislike for olives – I like the leftover flavour that it leaves behind in a stew or a dish, but eating it on its own is very much a fear factor thing to me (I exaggerate only a little).

we started with dubboki, here cooked with the transparent-and-chewy sweet potato noodles, fish cakes and a half-boiled egg, very tasty and the sauce was less overpowering than the rendition at assa.

the barbecue was pre-empted by our waitress individually doling out leaves of  lettuce and arranging seasoned spring onions atop; the hot plate and dishes of bulgogi, squid and marbled beef followed very closely. the meat was fresh and tasty enough; I had no complains. we also ordered a seafood and vegetable casserole to bulk up the meal – this had quite a lot of seafood, sweet potato noodles and the crab in there helped make a fantastic broth, even if it left the crab meat and shell soggy.

we finished with a complementary plate of prettily-cut oranges; this immediately made me wonder how many young waitresses were behind in the kitchen cutting segments of orange.

the only quirk with arang is how prompt, almost anxious, they are to pass you and collect the bill (already noted by some other foodies). they came to ask if we were done, rather pointedly, and then came forth with the card machine even before we finished the oranges. I don’t understand this, as there weren’t that many people waiting for tables – but oh well.

otherwise, service was friendly till the weird urgency at the end of our meal, and the food was decent as well as reasonably-priced. I think I might choose to come here instead of koba the next time I crave barbecue; though koba seems to have better food quality, the combination of price-worthiness and convenience here at arang is difficult to beat.

Arang on Urbanspoon

assa, london


cheap and good korean in soho. it’s a little amazing how little publicity assa gets; it’s like as though we all blog about the fantastic note-worthy restaurants we visit and forget the ones we really go to when we want a good cheap meal. I’ve said it twice now, it has to be true.

you can eat comfortably and satisfactorily at sub-ten levels even at dinnertime, and for just a bit more, you really can eat until you feel so stretched you could roll out of the restaurant cushioned on fluffy sticky rice and those addictive bouncy rice cakes. at lunchtimes, prices are even cheaper for the same quality of food.

the meal always starts off with roasted barley tea and some banchan, basically some complimentary small plates of food: we got pickle-sweet seaweed today and bean sprouts tossed in sesame oil. pleasant if uninspiring. the beef hot-pot was cooked table-side, and out from it wafted these utterly appetizing smells that open the appetite, as we say. followed with the seafood pancake, which wasn’t that much of a favourite; it’s hard to disagree with fried batter, though this was very greasy. liked the dip though.

that was followed by dobukki, chewy rice cakes with ramen and fishcakes in a spicy too-salty sauce. that sauce is important though, because it lifted the dish from stodginess to comforting richness. squid for mains today, in a teriyaki sauce as well as a spicy variant, both of which went very well with the rice.

you can tell the standard of an asian joint by the quality of the rice they serve, and assa fares well. I know I’ll be back – assa is my benchmark for korean food. does this place have food as nice for as cheap? that should be your mantra too, you’ll see what I mean after your first visit.

Assa on Urbanspoon

koba, london


decent korean near tottenham court. my second visit here – as I completely forgot I had come before – and this time for a simple lunch.

the barbecue last time was really rather good, and today’s lunch of jjambong and japchae – not too oily and very tasty – was too. portions here aren’t nearly as generous as Assa, however, and so I’d probably return to Assa.

(though this place has slightly better ventilation, if that matters to you.)

Koba on Urbanspoon

Square Meal