The Korean Wave

The Korean Wave

The latest craze of food in town ever since Koreans shook things up with their K culture from drama serials to K-Pop. Find out the places that does them proper here!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

Hadn’t even heard about Hankang Pocha Korean Cuisine, so was pretty confused and then surprised when the co-workers actually suggested trying them out for lunch. As it seems, Hankang Pocha Korean Cuisine takes over the former premises of the now-defunct DAO WEI FROM YUN NAN 道味 which had only been in operations for a couple of months — an establishment that was much focused on serving mainland Chinese food originating from Yunnan; Hankang Pocha having only opened its doors some time in December 2023. Considering that DAO WEI FROM YUN NAN 道味 had already done considerable work to the space when they were in operations previously, it seems that Hankang Pocha had only made more significant changes to the facade of the shop — the entrance having lost the diagonally-positioned door in place of a more usual-looking one; the wooden door with see-thru glass windows being labelled with Korean characters that is very typical of Korean dining establishments. Inside, much of the interior decor of DAO WEI FROM YUN NAN 道味 has been retained; this includes the faux Chinese-style roofings on the walls, as well as the beige walls and wooden furnishings and fittings. There are however some touches made to the place that gave it a Korean vibe; this includes a few wooden planks inscribed with Korean characters, as well as Korean posters on the walls of the establishment. The hard copy menu only lists a limited number of their offerings, but their online POS system does showcase a menu that is sectioned into categories ranging from Korean Specialty, Hot Plate, Army Stew, Fried Chicken, Korean BBQ, Soup, Pancake, Noodles and Rice. Beverages available at Hankang Pocha includes non-alcoholic beverages like canned drinks, as well as alcoholic drinks like Soju and beer.

Having made our visit during weekday lunch hours, we were looking for an individually-sized menu item that would fill us up substantially. It is noted that Hankang Pocha does serve up Banchan the moment that patrons have been seated in the establishment — there is a variety of six Banchan dishes being served up during our visit there, which included kimchi, a dish that features hotdogs, spicy tofu, fish cake, pickled radish, and one that featured some greens. Whilst some Korean establishments do also serve up complimentary tea, Hankang Pocha only provides plain water to its patrons upon being seated. Since we have had quite a number of Korean stew dishes of the late, we decided to switch things up a little and go for the Stone Pot Bibimbap instead — something that we had not went for in quite a while despite it being the very first Korean dish that we were being exposed to in our childhood. At Hankang Pocha, the Stone Pot Bibimbap comes served with a choice of pork, chicken or beef; the former two being charged at the default price of $14++, while the latter is charged at an additional charge of $2++; the addition of the egg yolk is also a chargeable option as well. As with most other Stone Pot Bibimbap that we have come across thus far, the Stone Pot Bibimbap at Hankang Pocha comes with the usual elements such as beansprouts, carrots, seaweed and greens; the choice of meat that we have went with for our order would be pork — the Gochujang comes served on the side so patrons can decide on how much of it they would like to add to the Stone Pot Bibimbap (we eventually added the whole thing).

Giving everything a good mix, we like how the Stone Pot Bibimbap here is served hot enough with the hot stone bowl managing to maintain the heat as went through the entire bowl — we also really enjoyed how there crusty bits of burnt rice they also added texture and flavour to the entire dish as well. Having mixed in all of the elements with the bowl evenly, the Stone Pot Bibimbap was a party-in-the-mouth both in terms of flavour and in terms of texture — this was one Stone Pot Bibimbap which we found to be rather balanced throughout considering how some places tend to be a little too generous with the rice; here, there is a balance between the sauce given and the rice to provide that deep bean-y, earthy and slightly umami note that the Gochujang brings. The elements like the beansprouts, carrots and greens were fresh; the notes of each element is particularly prominent even amidst all that rice and Gochujang — the carrot and beansprouts also providing a bit of a crunch in terms of texture. It does seem that the pork that came with the Stone Pot Bibimbap comes stir-fried before being plated; it comes in a shade darker than usual, while there is a savoury note that is free from any undesirable porky stench as well. The addition of the egg yolk is a must-have personally for us; it seems to be that one element that may not have done much in terms of flavour, though we did always feel that the egg yolk when broken and mixed together with all that Gochujang, rice and other elements in the bowl, helps to gel everything altogether. For those intending to head down, do be prepared to leave the spot smelling like BBQ; they do serve up Korean BBQ here, though there isn’t any exhaust or ventilation to cater for it. An establishment at Tanjong Pagar Road that serves up quite a decent variety of individually-portioned dishes below $15++; probably a spot that would work well with office workers in the ‘hood.

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Have came across this particularly new Korean restaurant that had been opened for quite a number of weeks before we had decided to make our visit there. Named MOA Restrobar, the Korean restaurant-cum-bar concept is one of the newest entrants to the F&B scene along Robinson Road. Situated at 61 Robinson Road, MOA Restrobar takes over the former premises of the now-defunct Black and White Cafe which used to be a Coffee Hive-esque establishment which served up both local-style and specialty coffee alongside local delights for its hot food selection. Having been to Black and White Cafe when they had just opened their doors, it seems that MOA Restrobar hadn’t really done much to the interior of the shop unit after Black and White Cafe had vacated the premises — in fact, the most notable changes would only be that of the dining furniture into ones that can be described as more “space efficient”. One will also notice the installation of a new television at the back of restaurant that was not there during the days where the space was occupied by Black and White Cafe — the television being used to play Korean music videos when we made our visit on a weekday lunch service. The menu at MOA Restrobar differs during lunch and dinner service — the lunch menu sees a focus on individually-sized stews, rice and noodle dishes, while the dinner menu comprises of sections dedicated to Noodles, Soup, Dolsot Bibimbap, Tteobokki, K Platter, Jeongol, Stir Fried Octopus on the Hot Stove, and Korean-inspired Taps dishes which seems to be more suited for sharing. The drinks menu appears to cater to the alcoholics, comprising of sections dedicated to Draft / Korean Beer, Makegeolli, Wine, Sake, Soju and Whisky. Non-alcoholic beverages includes carbonated drinks, juice, tea, coffee and yogurt.

Having made our visit to MOA Restrobar on a weekday for lunch, it does seem like MOA Restrobar has quite a fair bit to offer even for those whom are visiting it during lunch service. For instance, patrons do get to pick between 17 dishes that are priced from $13.90++ to $24.90++ — apart from the main dish that one opts for, MOA Restrobar also provides complimentary hot and cold banchan, as well as Korean Tea with the order of every main dish. This doesn’t sound like a lot, though it is noted that MOA Restrobar serves up their Banchan in a way that is almost like a salad bar buffet format — patrons can help themselves to right at the counter; the wait staff does assist should they have the time to do so, but there are a good variety of around six Banchan items to go for. We opted for the Andong Jjimdak — the menu describes the Andong Jjimdak as a dish that comes with elements such as soy braised chicken, glass noodle, potato, radish, carrot and rice cake that comes served with rice. Essentially also known as Korean Braised Chicken, the Andong Jjimdak here on first look does look pretty hearty and balanced with root vegetables and a good amount of chicken that comes along with it.

Digging into the Andong Jjimdak, the braised liquid here comes a savoury with a slight dash of sweetness; all that accompanied with a slightly peppery finish right towards the end — something which felt rather comforting to be had especially on a cold rainy day that is pretty much the norm during this time of the year in December, and best to be had with the bowl of rice on that absorbs all of its goodness. The soy braised chicken here comes having absorbed all of the goodness in the flavours of the braising liquid; though it does come bone-in and thus not too friendly especially for those whom do not wish to deal with small pieces of chicken bones from the various parts, the meat does fall off the bones very easily. The sweetness of the root vegetables added could also be easily tasted in the braising liquid — the root vegetables having also cooked to a level of softness that doesn’t require much effort to chew. We are usually quite afraid of the addition of glass noodles in Korean stews, though we were glad that they did limit the addition of glass noodles to the minimum here — not overly filling especially considering how the Andong Jjimdak does come with a bowl of rice by default (patrons do get a flexibility of ordering no rice or less rice through the online POS system nonetheless). The only qualm we have had with the Andong Jjimdak was the lack of rice cakes which was listed as an element for the dish in the menu; that being said, we were still good for it to come without since there were enough carbs here anyway. At $16.90++, we would say that the Andong Jjimdak does work well for those looking for a Korean stew that is largely considered to be non-spicy; would really like to check out their other offerings like the Cheese Spicy Pork Rib Stew some other time!

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Had been wanting to check out Park’s Kitchen for quite a long while — having first started as a stall within the canteen at SMU Connexion, it is noted that Park’s Kitchen was an establishment that had its focus on serving up “restaurant-quality” takeaway Korean-style rice bowls in its inception. For those whom are unaware, Park’s Kitchen is an establishment that is run by the same folks whom are behind Supergreen; an establishment they had recently been making an expansion at least within the Central Business District serving up salad bowls. Park’s Kitchen had found itself opening a larger outlet in the basement of Marina One and number of months ago — this also marks the first time that Park’s Kitchen became an independent eatery operating out of a space of its very own that is not part of a food hall. Occupying a shop unit that is around twice the side of that from the dining establishments situated around it, the Marina One location of Park’s Kitchen can be described as quick service eatery with a casual surrounding; the store being decked in yellow and blue that seems to be the colour theme that is adopted by the brand. With a much bigger space, Park’s Kitchen at Marina One offers a larger food menu; the menu comprises of sections dedicated to Mains, Stews, Combos, Ramyeon and Starters. Beverages available at Park’s Kitchen at Marina One includes Korean beverages like Grape Bongbong, Demi Soda, as well as alcoholic drinks like Soju, HITE beer and Maekgolli.

The availability of Stews in the menu of Park’s Kitchen at Marina One is pretty much of a smart decision — this is considering how they are located within the Central Business District in a complex that comprises of office towers; items like Stews would easily attract office crowds whom are looking to have something warm and comforting to have after sitting in an air-conditioned environment for the entire morning. Park’s Kitchen does offer a rather wide selection of Stews here at Marina One — this includes the Assorted Soondubu which comes with beef, clam, shrimp or squid, while there is also the Kimchi Soondubu that is marked as a “must-try!” item in the menu. What really caught our attention was the Ham & Cheese Soondubu however; something which does sound a little “cheap” considering the composition of ingredients here, though does sound like a rather uncommon offering around. Patrons do get a choice to indicate if they would like their Soondubu to be served “Original”, “Spicy” or “Very Spicy” here — our order wee for the “Spicy” variant. The “Ham” in its namesake was a little misleading; the “ham” actually refers to the luncheon meat included in the stew, while the cheese is that of typical processed cheese that one can readily find in supermarkets and predominantly used in Korean cuisine as well.

It was a little bit of a shame that the poached egg typically found in Soondubu elsewhere ends up being a fully-cooked one with the egg white encasing the solid yolk within — all else being said the stew itself was really flavourful being a little tangy and notably spicy. One might expect the Ham & Cheese Soondubu to be a little similar to the Korean Army Stew given the use of processed cheese and luncheon meat, though we would say that it still is pretty much more Soondubu at heart considering the lack of spicy bean paste and the stew still lacking of a density that would come with that of the Korean Army Stew. The level of spiciness here does do just about right for those whom are accustomed to moderate levels of spiciness for the Spicy variant; the added chilli padi adding on to the piquant spiciness already on its own. The stew works great especially with when had with the bowl to white rice on the side; definitely saw ourselves dousing the rice with all the stew which was pretty addictive. We liked how the texture of the Tofu was done here; smooth and silken without needing effort too break apart, while it also comes with slices of cucumber that provided a refreshing crunch whilst having absorbed the flavours of the stew. Some crumbs of minced meat can be found in the stew for an extra bite, while the luncheon meat was surprisingly not too loaded with sodium. The side dishes of Kimchi and Danmuji (yellow pickled radish) are pretty standard, though no doubt refreshing when all here too spicy. Overall, a pretty satisfying Soondubu item which was quite what we were craving for on the day of our visit. Prices of the food at Park’s Kitchen may not be deemed as wallet-friendly to some, considering the lowest-priced mains start at $10.90 – that being said, all of the dishes are priced comfortable below $20. We would think that we would return for a comforting bowl of Soondubu considering its vicinity to us when we are in the office; a spot which we would definitely keep in mind for a quick lunch!

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Grantral Mall / Grantral Complex @ Macpherson is one of those buildings that had seemingly given the neighbourhood a breath of fresh air in recent times — whilst Tai Seng has been better known to be an industrial estate, the closure of Golden Mile Complex had created a boom of activity around the area itself especially after the long-distance coach operators previously situated at Golden Mile Complex have moved into the building. Since then, there is a rising of F&B establishments that have moved into the building — Eomma Jipbap being one of the latest additions to the growing list of F&B tenants that had moved into the building in recent times. Situated at the ground level of the complex where other notable F&B tenants such as Tai Feng Wei Fusion, KAO GE YU 烤个鱼, and The Viet Roti are also located at, Eomma Jipbap should be a fairly easy find within the complex itself. Considering the area of which the F&B establishment is located within the mall, this also means that the layout of Eomma Jipbap features an extended shop space where external seating are located outside of the stall’s “indoor” area — the “indoor” area within the boundaries consisting only of a limited number of dine-in seats just like how most of the other F&B establishments in the same area in the mall are being laid out in. This also means that the interior decor of the space at Eomma Jipbap can be described as mostly functional — there seems to be a choice in fitting out the interior with wooden furniture and fittings however. As the namesake of the eatery clearly suggests, Eomma Jipbap is an establishment that serves up Korean cuisine — it it’s noted that the establishment does seem to have a stronger emphasis on cooked dishes, especially since there are no barbecue items being listed on the menu. Instead, the menu features items that are spread across categories such as Set Lunch (available only from 11am to 2pm for a flat price of $9.90), Appetiser / Starter, Snacks, Rice, Noodles, Stew & Hotpot, Kids Meal and Couple Set. For drinks, there are a selection of cold and hot non-alcoholic beverages, as well as Soju and beer.

It does seem that Eomma Jipbap does attempt to serve up some rather interesting items on the menu that would even appeal to individual diners especially in their Rice and Noodle section of the menu. We were a little spoilt for choice whilst skimming through the mehh since we had the option to stick to choices that are a little more pedestrian and commonly found across other establishments all around such as the Bibim Guksu, Jjampong and the Jjajangmyeon — we eventually found ourselves opting for the Jogae Kalguksu considering how we had not really seen this dish around whilst visiting other Korean establishments across the island. The menu describes the Jogae Kalguksu as a “Seaweed Noodle with Clam” — the item also comes pretty much as what we had expected it to be based on the given description on the menu as well, though we do note that Banchan (comprising of a three side dishes included pickled radish, kimchi and anchovies) are served together with the Jogae Kalguksu. An item that is likely able to appeal to those who prefer lighter flavours in general, one thing we note about the Jogae Kalguksu was how the broth just tastes pretty clean — very easy to finish without having doused with unnecessary ingredients for the purposes of flavouring it up. The noodles that are served up with the broth were pretty close to what we would call rice vermicelli; these were soft and does not require much effort to bite — quite a wise choice of noodles since it basically elevates the clean notes of the dish further unlike some other noodle types. There was a generous portion of kelp added to give a soft bite and an umami note, while the clams used were fresh — briny without carrying an undesirable fishy note; we were also surprised with how they had cleaned out much of the sand considering how we had not encountered any grittiness in the soup. Overall, a dish that opens the palate without clouding the taste bud with a complexity of different flavours.

Apart from the Jogae Kalguksu, other dishes that we had tried during our visit made to Eomma Jipbap includes the Sobulgogi Curly Fries from the Appetisers / Starters section of the menu, as well as the Donkatseu Deopbap from the Rice section of the menu — both of which being items which we found to be rather interesting and not commonly offered in Korean establishments around the island. For the Sobulgogi Curly Fries, the item does seem like a good snack to be accompanied with some beer at the side — think of it as the Korean rendition of chili beef fries though without the spiciness; this sees the crowd favourite curly fries being served with stir-fried Bulgogi beef above it as well as a Yuzu-infused mayonnaise on the side. The curly fries does come crisp with a familiar savoury note that we know them to be; all that whilst being slightly savoury and sweet considering how it had absorbed the flavours of the beef and caramalised onions that comes over it. The Yuzu mayonnaise was surprisingly refreshing — the yuzu component being especially prominent with its distinct zingy note. It is noted that the Donkatseu Deopbap doesn’t come with that trendy large-sized pork cutlet that some Korean establishments would serve their variant in — that being said, the breaded pork cutlet here is still of a sizeable portion whilst coming with a good portion of rice underneath. Interestingly, the Donkatseu Deopbap doesn’t come with that usual sauce that contains a mix of tomato paste and Worcester sauce that comes close to that of our Hainanese-style western cuisine — Eomma Jipbap went for a Lemon-Mustard sauce that is creamy and tangy where it not only went well with the cutlet, but also the rice and shredded cabbage that integrated the whole dish as one with the umami laver that further adds on to it. Overall, Eomma Jipbap seems to be an establishment that serves up pretty good Korean fare; maybe at times with their own twist or with a fusion element; that being said, independently-run Korean establishments that has an emphasis on cooked food are still considered a rarity in a scene where self-service barbecues are more commonplace. Needless to say, a spot that we would probably revisit to give other items like the Jjajangmyeon a go some other time!

Yet another month and yet another Jjajangmyeon specialty shop opens somewhere in the island — with all that hype that is going around more affordable Jjajangmyeon specialty establishments that had recently opened around the heartlands such as Obba Jjajang Express and Jeong’s Jjajang of the late, it does seem like more of such establishments have also been set up all around. Go! K-Jjajang is the newest concept by the folks behind Go! K-BBQ — the former being just located at 80 Amoy Street just a few doors down the Amoy Street outlet of the latter that is situated at 76 Amoy Street. Amongst most of the Jjajangmyeon specialty stores out there, Go-K Jjajang can be said as one of those with the most modern interiors — adopting a dark green colour theme, the earthy tones does set a sort of classy yet modern vibe against the wooden furniture and fittings here; a very welcoming feel that is easy on the eyes. The menu at Go! K-Jjajang features mostly ala-carte dishes that are all great to share across the table — think items like soup, deep-fried chicken, prawn and pork. That is also section in the menu that is named “Premium A La Carte”, which features rather interesting items such as Scorched Rice Soups, whilst the “Noodle” section of the menu is where one would find items such as the Jjangmyeon (dubbed the Go K Jjajang here), Haemul Udon and Haemul Jjamppong — all of which being pretty much staples at a Jjangmyeon-focused establishment. Choices of beverages available here includes soft drinks, while a wide variety of alcoholic beverages such as Soju, Korean traditional liquor, beer, and Kaoliang Liquors are also served here.

One thing that we found interesting at Go! K-Jjajang is how they do seem to serve other variations of Tangsuyuk that we have yet to come across in similar establishments. Apart from the standard Tangsuyuk (dubbed the Go K Tangsuyuk) that is essentially the Korean rendition of Sweet & Sour Pork, they also do offer the Guangdong Tangsuyuk (i.e. Chilli Sweet & Sour Pork), as well as the Gochoo Maneul Tangsuyuk (i.e. Spicy Garlic Sweet & Sour Pork). Featuring the same sort of pork slices that comes with the usual Tangsuyuk, the only difference to the Go K Tangsuyuk is in the sauce used here. The spicy garlic chili does interestingly resemble that of chili that is often served in Indonesian dishes — one with a orange hue and comes with various types of chopped chili padi; all that laden with garlic chips and what seems to be chopped garlic. To have “Sweet & Sour” in its namesake doesn’t really set the expectations right — the sauce itself is savoury and spicy; almost akin to what one would expect out of a spicy dip that includes soy sauce and chili with a garlicky undertone. Strange as it sounds, we did feel that the sauce was pretty satisfying — those who love spiciness would especially like this considering how it gives a pretty fiery kick that tickles the taste buds even for those who are tolerable to moderate amounts of heat. The slices of pork here are also actually pretty decent too — for one, it’s a nice in-between of being crisp yet chewy; some may call the fried batter of the pork a little doughy but we liked how that consistency seems to have worked out relatively fine over here. It is also noted that the batter here is also not overly thick, whilst the pork itself was also considered pretty tender — easy to chew and pretty chunky pieces of meat in general; something which we are pretty fond of.

Go! K-Jjajang does seem like a pretty promising spot for Korean-Chinese fare overall — not only does it has a great environment to boast of, but they do offer quite a wide variety of dishes on the menu that we have not seen in menus of similar establishments before. That being said, the price point for its sharing plates are slightly on the pricey side — they range around $25 to $42 here; something that is worth thinking about for those who are more budget-conscious though could be easily shared with more people at the table. Still, Go! K-Jjajang does seem like a promising addition to the neighbourhood — one that does serve up pretty good Korean-Chinese fare with some unique menu items for a change; yet another dining destination that is worth checking out at Amoy Street!

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Having just recently checked out Obba Jjajang Express at the foodcourt at Koufu HQ, one has to wonder if there is a trend where Jjajangmyeon-based establishments are starting to emerge in the coffeeshops and food courts in the heartlands. Previously being located in JTC Space @ Tampines North, Jeong’s Jjajang had since moved into new digs at the coffeeshop at Blk 161 Bukit Merah Central — that very same coffeeshop that also houses No. 25 Minced Meat Noodle that is best known for their bak chor mee with a “tonkotsu-inspired soup”. Much like other Jjajangmyeon specialty stalls, Jeong’s Jjajang serves up items such as Jjajangmyeon, Jjampong, Kimchi Fried Rice, Tangsuyuk and Fried Dumplings — just to name a few; other Korean dishes sold here includes the Kimchi Pancake, Seafood Pancake, and the Soondubu Soup.

Making our visit to Jeong’s Jjajang just a couple of days after our visit to Obba Jjajang Express, we felt that we were already carrying unrealistic expectations that Jeong’s Jjajang might have difficulty filling in — little did we know about what we were getting into at Jeong’s Jjajang. While the Jjajangmyeon is a little bit more on the savoury side and doesn’t seem to carry minced meat (instead, they do include cabbage here for more crunch), the Tangsuyuk was the stunner that was especially well-executed. Jeong’s Jjajang serves up their Tangsuyuk with the sauce separated from the chunks of meat — patrons get to pour the sauce over to their heart’s content, or dip the chunks of pork into the sauce instead. The chunks of pork here is the key to how their Tangsuyuk is simply so good — the meat comes tenderised; easy to chew with a meaty bite, yet comes with sufficient moisture locked within, all that while the fried batter on the exterior is light and crisp without being anywhere limp. It is noted as well that the oil used here is pretty fresh; the chunks of pork did not carry any undesirable stench of overused oil, nor porky-ness as well. Pouring the sweet-sour sauce onto the fried pork, the sauce itself was dense and thick but not particularly starchy so much that it coats the chunks of pork without making them the batter then soggy; really like how there is this malt-like sweetness amidst a gingery note that made it rather refreshing and easy to have. Overall, one of the most impressive Tangsuyuk that we have tried thus far.

Having tried quite a number of Jjangmyeon specialty stores in the past such as Itaewon Jjajang, Obba Jjajang and then now-defunct Hong Jjajang, we were actually pretty surprised at the quality of food that is coming out of Jeong’s Jjajang especially considering how they are just a coffeeshop stall as compared against the other names that are full-service restaurants — from the banchan to the items that we had, they do seem to have an emphasis of freshness and quality where most of the elements does seem to be made from scratch. Given how the place seems to be run by Koreans and their passion and dedication in serving up authentic food that speaks to the soul, Jeong’s Jjajang is certainly a spot that is worth making the trip; even more so for those who are looking for great Jjajangmyeon and Tangsuyuk around. Wishing the folks behind Jeong’s Jjajang all the best in what is to come — certainly looking forward to having the Tangsuyuk again, as well as to try the other items such as the Kimchi Pancake and the Jjampong which we had missed out on this time!

Woodlands is a neighbourhood that hasn’t really been affiliated with many exciting food options in the past, but it does seem that things are starting to change in the last couple of years with the opening of Woods Square (where establishments such as The Tipsy Panda by The Tipsy Collective, Cat and The Fiddle Cheesecakes etc. are located), as well as other hipster and indie options such as Parched by Parchmen & Co, D’Pasta Hero, and Tasty Thai etc. at other parts of the neighbourhood. Obba Jjajang Express probably the newest addition to the Woodlands neighbourhood as at the writing of this post — brought by the same folks behind Obba Jjajang at Tanjong Pagar as well as Obba BBQ & Jjajang at Beauty World, their latest express outlet is situated within the ground level food court at Koufu HQ located at 1 Woodlands Height. Being an express outlet, expect Obba Jjajang’s newest digs to carry a more streamlined menu as compared to their full-service restaurants; for a start, Obba Jjajang Express does serve up a variety of Jjajangmyeons (i.e. Black Bean Sauce Noodles) that Obba Jjajang serves — this includes the Frai Jjajangmyeon (i.e. Black Bean Sauce Noodles with Egg) and the Sausage Jjajangmyeon just to name a few. For those who are not into Jjajangmyeon, Obba Jjajang Express also offers dishes such as Jjampong (i.e. Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup), Jajang Bab (i.e. Black Bean Sauce Rice), Kimchi Fried Rice and Korean Ramen as well. Sharing plates that are served up here includes the Tangsuyuk (i.e. Sweet & Sour Pork), as well as various forms of dumplings.

Given how we will never give the Jjajangmyeon a miss whenever we hit Obba Jjajang at Tanjong Pagar, we had to go for the Jjajangmyeon when we made our visit to Obba Jjajang Express. We were glad to say that the Jjajangmyeon at Obba Jjajang Express is pretty consistent in terms of quality as compared to the ones that we have previously had at the Tanjong Pagar outlet — the bowl of noodles is beautifully covered with the black bean sauce just like how we recalled it to be previously. Giving the noodles a good toss, each strand of noodle is coated with ample black bean sauce — the noodles are slurpy and chewy; almost akin to that of the consistency of potato noodles that the Koreans are known for, while the sauce lends a sweet-savoury note that comes from the caramalised black bean sauce that is not only sufficiently thick and dense, but also comes laden with other condiments such as minced meat, as well as onions for a good bite. The strips of cucumber that they have included with the noodles helped to provide a refreshing crunch amidst the heaviness of the sauce and the carbs — makes the entire bowl pretty easy to eat despite being a rather flavoursome item on its own.

Still remembered visiting Obba Jjajang when they had first opened their doors at Tanjong Pagar a couple of years ago being impressed with what they have to offer. Since then, queues do form up at their store, and Obba Jjajang has also moved on to even selling their signature Jjajangmyeon in the form of a easy cooking kit for a portion of two pax stocked in supermarkets for patrons to easily replicate the dish at home. It is little to say that we are pretty surprised how they have since come so far — and a little unthinkable that they would have launched an express outlet in a location that some residents within Woodlands would have called “ulu” as well. Nonetheless, Woodlands residents would probably be glad that they no longer have to make their way down to town to get the Jjajangmyeon — pretty impressed with how the quality of the food here remains pretty on par to our previous experiences at the main outlet; this is not to mention that the prices here for the Jjangmyeon is also priced lower than that served in the full-service restaurant (a single portion costs $7.50 at Obba Jjajang Express instead of $13 at their full-service restaurant) without a substantial reduction in serving size. We do wish that Obba Jjajang Express will be able to maintain the food quality in the long run — certainly the outlet that we would consider returning back for Jjajangmyeon given the proximity for us!

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Checked out the new Salmon Kitchen along Tanjong Pagar Road; the Korean-run seafood establishment had recently opened their doors, taking over the former premises of the now-defunct Hongjjajang — the interior of the restaurant now features a largely white colour theme, which opposes the louder aesthetic of the former establishment. While Salmon King does serve up ala-carte dishes on their menu, the highlight here would be their 1 meter / 85cm / 66cm sets featuring a variety of dishes that are great for sharing, or their “unlimited” ala-carte buffet offerings that is available from $29.90++ per pax and up (depending on the dishes offered) where diners can enjoy a free-flow of a variety of Korean dishes for a dine-in time limit of 90mins.

Since it was our very first visit being made to Salmon Kitchen, it was needless to say how we ended up opting for the 1 meter unlimited buffet at $39.90++ per pax; essentially the full works served on a 1 meter long platter that featured the following items according to the menu:

Yukhoe (Beef Tartare) + Salmon + Tuna + Tokboki + Saeujung (Soy Sauce Marinated Shrimp), Yangnyeomgejang (Spicy Marinated Crab) + Sushi + Taco Wasabi + Muneosukhoe (Parboiled Octopus), Riceball + Kimchi Pancake + Jogetang (Clam Soup)

To put it in summary, we did find ourselves enjoying the cooked food items more than the raw dishes for the most part; the carbs such as the Tokoboki and the Riceballs were mainly the highlights here which we couldn’t get enough of. Other items such as the Muneosukhoe and Yukhoe were also commendable; liked how the former wasn’t particularly rubbery and well-flavoured with the marinade, while the latter was especially enjoyable with the honey mustard sauce served on the side. The sushi were generally decent; whilst we enjoyed how the rice did come slightly sweetened, the rice wasn’t as tightly packed as expected and there were a couple of pieces that were hard to lift off considering how the rice already loosened as we attempt to pick them up using the chopsticks. Other items such as the salmon sashimi were reasonably fresh; enough to entice the typical sashimi lover.

Tanjong Pagar is that neighbourhood that is filled with Korean-run establishments; Salmon Kitchen attempts to provide for a buffet experience that deviates from the usual Korean BBQ buffet which is abundant in the area — the concept of serving up Korean seafood in a 1 meter serving platter for a buffet is definitely something that is likely to appeal to the more adventurous eater, not to mention how it does seemingly deliver on a Mukbang-esque experience. While we didn’t have an unpleasant experience here, there are definitely teething issues with the service — seemingly understaffed and could also do with more training; food does take quite some time to arrive in general, though they seem to be aware and do not seem to strictly impose the 90mins dine-in time limit during our visit as a result. Could also perhaps look into reducing the portion size of their initial serving for smaller groups as well — while I do appreciate the fact on how they would want to seem generous, the nature of the food served (raw items) does seem like a concerning factor when diners leave them exposed for an extended period of time at the table whilst consuming the spread. Otherwise, a fairly decent option to dine at for something different that other Korean establishments have yet to offer; hoping that they could continue working on their service and also furthering the freshness of the food served for an elevated experience in time to come.

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The Food Loft coffeeshop at Blk 721 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 located after Jubilee and opposite the MRT tracks leading towards Ang Mo Kio MRT Station seems to be a hotspot for interesting coffeeshop stalls of the late — the coffeeshop is home to stalls such as El Carbon and Donburi No Tatsujin, and has seen recent additions such as Meng Meng Roasted Duck (hailing from Johor Bahru, and famed for their charcoal roasted duck) and Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu recently. The latter is an “express” concept of SBCD Korean Tofu House, which has outlets at Tanjong Pagar Centre, Millenia Walk and Alexandra Retail Centre (ARC) — also probably one of the first establishments with an emphasis on the Korean Sundubu (Korean Soft Tofu Stew) in a coffeeshop setting. At Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu, expect a smaller variety of Sundubu dishes available — all items here are also served in sets which includes kimchi, seaweed and rice; pretty much a fuss-free and more affordable concept with prices ranging from $6 to $8.

Opting for the Dumpling Soon Tofu Set, it is noted that each order is made a la minute — there aren’t any buzzers or queue numbers distributed here, and patrons will have to wait at the counter for their order to be cooked and collected. The process didn’t take very long — around 5 minutes though I was the only customer in line. Served in an earthenware just like how it would be in the restaurant, the only difference here is how the seaweed comes served in the pack directly in the original packaging. Whilst I ain’t much of a Sundubu fan and have yet to make my visit to SBCD Korean Tofu House (so take my post with a pinch of salt; I wouldn’t know how the one from SBCD Korean Tofu House would taste like whilst writing about this), I could see how some folks would love this. Yes, no doubt the soup-base itself was on the lighter side; that being said, the flavours do seem to build up slowly here and one could taste that slight hint of savoury and mild hint of spiciness in the soup that made it particularly comforting especially on a rainy day — best had when drenched onto the pearly short-grain rice served in the bowl on the side. Inside the soup comes bits of onions, an egg with a liquid yolk, tofu and two dumplings; could tell they were fairly generous with the items served in the soup — the egg yolk helping to further enhance the flavours of the soup when mixed in, while the cooked egg whites gave a slightly different texture against the smooth, silken tofu. Not sure if the dumplings are made by SBCD Korean Tofu House or if commercial ones are used here; whilst stuffed with quite a decent portion of meat, the fillings are slightly more peppery and provided an added spicy note on top of that of the soup’s — still pretty manageable though. The Kimchi was decent, though my preference would be for it to be served chilled rather than at room temperature for an extra refreshing respite over the hot soup by the side.

Sundubu is quite a niche item to be served, but I guess it’s affiliation with SBCD Korean Tofu House somewhat guarantees the quality of the Sundubu that is being served here — a more affordable, fuss-free rendition that would hopefully bring the dish towards the masses. No doubt the Sundubu here is priced slightly higher than the average hawker fare that one would expect from a coffeeshop, but in an era of change where budding hawkerpreneurs are bringing a more premium experience against the traditional stalls that we are familiar and grew up with, perhaps the Sundubu here doesn’t seem that much inaccessible as compared to the trendy fried rice and chee cheong fun options that we are seeing these days. I am probably not the right person to comment on how authentic or how well-executed the Sundubu is here, but it is definitely exciting to see how coffeeshops are also in the midst of a phase of gentrification; a stall that Sundubu lovers probably should check out.

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A fairly recent addition to the campus of the Singapore Management University, O’dok Dabang is a new Korean F&B establishment which is situated just right beside Bricklane, taking over the former premises of the now-defunct Boyle’s Coffee x Love Bites. O’dok Dabang operates as a cafe serving up cakes and bread alongside specialty coffee all-day, but also do offer Korean Fried Chicken and Korean Ramen after 5pm — they are also one of the establishments that are opened till late in the vicinity, and is open up to 12:30am.

Making our trip there during dinner service, we just couldn’t give the Korean Fried Chicken a miss. Patrons are able to go for four different flavours of Korean Fried Chicken here (there isn’t an option to mix flavours, though an extra sauce can be ordered at $1.00 extra) — think flavours such as Soy Garlic, Sweet Spicy, Snowy Cheese and Honey Butter. There is a choice to opt for a set, which adds French Fries and Coke or Sprite at an additional $4 (Radish was a side order at $1.00, which was refillable). We opted for the set, going for the Soy Garlic and adding the Sweet Spicy sauce on the side. Thought the French Fries were decent though nothing much to shout about — the criss-cut fries were the soft and fluffy sort; doesn’t seem to be seasoned in much salt so they were a little plain but these do make for a good vehicle for the sweet spicy sauce which we went for on the side given how the sauce was manageably spicy for those with a lower tolerance for spiciness, whilst being aptly sweet also. There are a fair proportion of different chicken parts provided for the Half Chicken; noted that the batter isn’t particularly thick here so it does differ from those that are usually served at fast food joints specialising in Korean Fried Chicken, but it is still relatively crispy without being drenched in too much sauce — the Soy Garlic being aptly savoury whilst carrying a thick and dense consistency. What we really liked here was how the fried chicken wasn’t particularly greasy, and we were pretty surprised by how juicy and tender the flesh was.

For those looking for something that is more suited for an individually-sized meal here, O’dok Dabang does serve up Wings (3pcs), Drumsticks (2pcs) and Tenders (4pcs) that may suit those who are into sharing a smaller portion or dining here alone. Singapore Management University’s diversity of dining options is something that quite amazes me whenever I am here, and O’dok Dabang does bring this notion further by offering a slice of Korean into the campus — a spot that not only appeals to students in the area, but likely also those who are looking for a chill spot in town and office workers around this area alike, given how they seem to target both the students and the masses with their offerings here.

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Heard about Itaewon Jjajang; a new Korean establishment which had recently opened its doors at Peck Seah Street which focuses mainly on their Tangsuyuk, Jjajangmyeon and Jjampong offerings — following much of the style where items are bundled in a set just like Obba Jjajang, Hong Jjajang and Mukjja, Itaewon Jjang also serves up the same items and more in ala-carte form for those who are intending to share more dishes.

Not giving their Jjajangmyeon a miss, the Jjajangmyeon here is one that I quite liked — the chewy noodles come drenched in a thick and gloopy caramelised black bean sauce; liked how Itaewon Jjajang’s rendition comes significantly less sweet than then other variants, though some may find this “bland” in comparison while we felt that it was less heavy and thus less jelak to finish. While the Jjajang sauce comes laden with minced meat at some other joints, Itaewon Jjajang’s seem to only come with soft onions for a slight variance in texture. Still, the portions do come pretty generous here, and the Jjajangmyeon would be well-sized to feed two folks with a smaller appetite.

Thought Itaewon Jjajang does serve up pretty decent Korean fare overall; we actually found the Sundubu Stew to be pretty tasty with a tangy and lightly spicy stew laden with smooth and jiggly tofu, clams, shrimp, egg etc. which goes especially well with a bowl of rice on the side. Must say we left Itaewon Jjajang pretty satisfied — yet another alternative to Obba Jjajang and Hong Jjajang for Jjajangmyeon at Tanjong Pagar.

Had been eating at places that I would not have expected to eat at pretty recently — times where I am not the one picking where to eat; but it’s really all for the better considering I don’t need to make the decision and just go by other’s cravings, which certainly is a decent break for my mind.

The Vongole Ppong is one of the dishes I have had at Nipong Naepong when they had first opened their doors at JEM — one of the fusion Ppongs offered here that are less heavy on the palate considering how most of them carries creamy or cheese components. Described in the menu as an item that is “cooked with briny clams, white wine and fragrant garlic”, the item also features mussels — a nice, premium addition that helps to give it an additional edge from being just a vongole-inspired dish. Slurping on the chewy noodles, one could most certain taste the slight briny notes in the broth; while the white wine does give it a slight boozy and spicy kick amidst the garlicky flavours, it seems that much of the “spiciness” is pretty much powered by pepper that further enhances those notes — not something I am totally for but fair enough given how Nipong Naepong is more of an establishment for the mass market. Otherwise the seafood are actually relatively fresh and plump; nothing much to complain about even despite having to wait in line for a table during dinner hours on a weekend (well, pretty much every else in Somerset/Orchard on a weekend night). A decent eat for those looking for a convenient Korean-fusion spot in the heart of town.

Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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