Words by Tiffany Tolones
The Hallyu wave has dominated the Philippines. The Korean craze in the country is unstoppable. As an avid fan of Korean dramas, I often fantasize about going to South Korea myself. Going to the different historical landmarks, riding the KTX Train to Busan (pun intended), trying out the public bath, visiting their local TV networks that make my favorite dramas. But, most of all, I really want to try out authentic Korean food.
Authentic Korean food is a fantasy no more because of Novotel Manila Araneta Center’s Go Gangnam! K-Food Festival. This is part of the hotel’s program, Food Exchange Manila, that features the most delectable dishes across cultures. The dishes are served in buffet style suited for your inner Korean. This is the first ever Korean food festival they organized to celebrate the Korean culture here in the Philippines. Just in time for EXO’s EXOrdium concert on Feb. 25-26!
Novotel Manila Araneta Center warmly welcomes you with the hotel staff dressed in hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and a Korean-themed ambiance, making you feel as if you’ve teleported to South Korea. In partnership with the Korean Cultural Center (KCC), the festival also presented traditional Korean dance performances by KCC’s own cultural group.
I cannot help but exclaim “Daebak” (Korean expression of ‘amazing’) in amazement. I feel like I had a valuable glimpse of experience being in Korea. I even experienced my first ever soju (Korean rice wine) here.
Go Gangnam offers a wide array of Korean food, from the classic kimchi and pickled raddish, to their beef bulgogi. Every dish is served from the best and freshest ingredients harvested from Novotel’s own farm in San Mateo, Rizal. Everything is organic, so even our vegan and health conscious friends can enjoy the meals, too.
The dishes were cooked personally by their own Food Exchange Ambassador and resident chefs. Chef Kim Jong-min was the guest chef who prepared their Korean cuisine menu for the festival. This is his third Food Exchange Korean Food Festival.
The When In Manila team tasted every dish in their menu, and here are our favorites:
It might be an originally Indian dish of mashed potatoes in Indian spices, but it complements the Korean Teriyaki perfectly. After the curry-flavored bite of Aloo Ghobi, the sweet bite of Korean Teriyaki balances the festive of flavors. It’s also perfect for someone who doesn’t eat rice much, but want to dig in for the mashed potatoes.
This is considered one of the trademarks of Korean cuisine. This “fire meat” is marinated beef grilled to perfection using the traditional grilling techniques. The balanced settlement of the marinade in the beef latches on your taste buds as sweet barbecue flavor.
Another Korean cuisine hall of famer is the Korean Teriyaki. This all-time dish is perfect for all of us who love sweet dishes. Beef bulgogi and Korean teriyaki are dishes for all ages. Its sauce is for kids, and the thin-sliced meat is easily chewed. This recipe is for all seasons, even a great partner for your Sojunuman (soju inuman).
Kimchi will never and should never be absent in any Korean meal. The sour and spicy pickled side dish complements every meal there is. Kimchi completes your Korean Food Fest experience.
Chicken Casserole’s warmth takes away the loneliness in your heart. This dish is known as a comfort food in Korea, especially in cold winter nights. Its warmth reaches your soul. Who knows, this soup may even warm up your oppa’s cold heart.
Kimbap is the classic lunchbox food in Korea because it is easy to prepare and convenient to eat. This bite-size rice meal is wrapped with seaweed wrapper and usually stuffed with mango, egg, cheese, cucumber, and a kind of meat, usually raw fish or crab meat.
Everything else might be delicious but Kimchi Rice is the real deal. Your favorite spicy kimchi is fused with Asia’s staple food, rice. You can enjoy kimchi rice bare (eat it as it is) or with the meat combo. Whichever way you choose, great taste awaits.
The variety of great tasting food in the buffet made me exclaim “daebak” all the more. And for those fans like me who want to have a taste of Korea without leaving the country, you should definitely drop by at Novotel Manila Araneta Center’s Go Gangnam K-Food Festival this February. The feast will last until Feb. 27, 2017, so grab your handboks and indulge yourself with a taste of the Korean life.
Novotel Manila Araneta Center is located right next to Araneta Coliseum, near Kia Theatre and in front of Araneta Center Cubao Bus Terminal.
Novotel Manila Araneta Center