Words by Danielle Castillo
For the past few years, we Filipinos have been going gaga for anything Korean. From binging k-dramas on Kissasian to stanning k-pop groups to buying all sorts of k-beauty products–I’ve begun to sincerely think that Filipinos have this natural affinity for being fans. We especially love the best part of Korean culture–the food!
Samgyupsal (Grilled Pork Belly), or Korean BBQ in general, has been in the spotlight these recent years. In Manila alone, I can guarantee you that there are hundreds upon hundreds of these shops in the area. Some are small and have a homey vibe to them while some are huge enough to serve over 600 customers! There are a lot of these K-BBQ places to choose from. With that said, how do you know if a restaurant will give you your money’s worth? Here are 5 things that you should look for when choosing a samgyupsal place!
5. SIDES! There should be a LOT of sides.
Sides are extremely important in your KBBQ experience. In my opinion, it wouldn’t even be considered Korean BBQ if you don’t have the essential sides. They help balance out the natural flavor of the beef and the pork by providing a wide array of flavors at your table. The sweet-savory flavor of gamja jorim (glazed potatoes), the crispy spicy yet refreshing bite of kimchi (fermented cabbage), and the heavenly slurp of the glass noodles of chapchae–these sides, among many that are just as mouthwatering, are to simply to die for.
From top-left to bottom-right: al gamja jorim (glazed baby potatoes), ojingo muchim (spicy squid), chapchae (stir-fried glass noodles), danmuji (pickled daikon radish), corn and cheese, salted peanuts, kimchi (fermented cabbage), kongnamul muchim (soy bean sprouts).
Just look at the shine on the noodles of that chapchae!
Wash out strong flavors from your tongue with this extremely fluffy goodness that is gyeran jjim (steamed egg).
4. Unlimited cheese, please!
Ah, cheese. It soothes our soul with every creamy mouthful. It goes extremely well with both the grilled pork and meat–its stretchy soft texture complimenting the crunchy oiled meat so good that it feels like your taste buds are in heaven. Sadly, not a lot of KBBQ places offer cheese, much less unlimited cheese. So when you do find a joint that does, never, and I mean NEVER, let it go.
I mean, look at that cheese pull!
3. If it offers unli bibimpap, it’s definitely ‘the one’.
While you may often hear that you shouldn’t eat rice when you’re in a samgyupsal place, I’m telling you to kiss that advice goodbye when you spot a restaurant offering unlimited bibimbap. The flavors and textures in this amazing Korean dish–the mild flavor of the egg yolk, the crisp and fresh cuts of assorted vegetables, the marinated pieces of beef, the addicting spiciness of the gochujang sauce–blend so well with grilled pork and beef.
Can you imagine if this was topped with grilled strips of pork? Beef? Yum!
2. High quality, well-marbled meat!
Of course, the focus of any K-BBQ resto should always be the meat. Look for places where they value the quality of the meat that they’re serving. You know the meat is good by the grade of its marbling, which, if you’re interested in knowing, is the amount of intramuscular fat. Meat with higher grades of marbling is simply more tender, more flavorful, and juicier than those you can buy at your average supermarket. More than side offers, inquire about the meat grade that the restaurant is serving first.
1. THIS. ALOE. VERA. DRINK.
Dr. Aloe is a refreshing aloe vera drink that’s simply perfect for your Korean barbecue feast. It’s light, not-too-sweet, and good for your health too. The real selling point is the tiny bits of aloe vera in the drink itself!
It goes without saying that the resto should be within your budget too! If you’re wondering how on Earth you’re going to find this dream-come-true KBBQ that offers everything we’ve been talking about, don’t worry because we have your back. House of Gogi in Dapitan, QC is the place to go. They charge only P399 for lunch and P488 for dinner for all of the things we’ve mentioned above (excluding the drink, of course). What a steal!
What’s more, it’s owned by talented GMA actress Kris Bernal! Apparently, this is her second business venture–the first being Meat Kris, a burger joint in Quezon City as well. Just like us, Kris is also in love with anything K, which can be seen in the effort she has put into making House of Gogi an awesome KBBQ restaurant that you’ll surely come back to.
What are you waiting for? Let’s get that KBBQ food trip plan on the road!
House Of Gogi
55 Dapitan St., Quezon City
Facebook: House of Gogi