When in Manila, it’s possible to have a taste of authentic Korean barbecue and other Korean food fare without applying for visa and booking a flight to Seoul.
Sariwon Korean Barbecue is a popular restaurant in South Korea and it has opened its first branch here in Manila at the heart of Bonifacio Global City to satiate all cravings for the legendary bulgogi. Though a bit on the high-end price range, Sariwon Korean Barbecue definitely offers genuine Korean dining experience for more bang for the buck.
Sariwon Korean Barbecue
Back story: According to its origin, Sariwon is a town in North Korea where in 1938, grandmother Mrs. Bun-Im Koo concocted the broth recipe for the legendary Korean barbecue or bulgogi. The recipe is made using 12 kinds of fruits and vegetables. The notable thing with this recipe is that though it has a hint of sweetness, it doesn’t use sugar to accommodate the need of her diabetic husband. Since then, Sariwon has become equivalent with traditional beef Korean barbecue or bulgogi.
After creating this recipe, grandmother Mrs. Koo opened her own small restaurant that caters to neighbors and friends. After 70 years, Sariwon Korean Barbecue has transformed into a multi-awarded and highly sought-after restaurant in South Korea. It has been awarded by the Seoul Metropolitan Government as the “Best Korean Restaurant”. This also serves as a tribute to grandmother Mrs. Koo’s efforts in creating one of the best recipes of bulgogi.
We were fortunate to have first-hand experience of Sariwon Korean Barbecue during its soft opening. With an invitation from Miss Donna Tan, one of the owners of Sariwon in the Philippines, we headed out to Bonifacio Global City to have a taste of what authentic Korean food really is.
Miss Donna Tan, Co-Owner of Sariwon, and Me
Upon getting seated, we were given this magic tablet towels that transform from tablet to towel with a little hot water. These are pretty cool because at one point they are just tablets then in a blink of an eye (or a few droplets of hot water), they turn into towels.
Aside from bringing in authentic Korean dishes like bulgogi and galbi, Sariwon also brought in a high-tech way to prepare these dishes with their smokeless grills. According to Miss Donna, the tables with smokeless grill are one of the most expensive investments they have made for this restaurant.
Our dinner at Sariwon Korean Barbecue began similar to how a usual Korean dinner starts, with the serving of banchan. Banchan are food in small portions like appetizers. But unlike appetizers that are eaten to arouse the appetite (hence the name), banchan are eaten with the main dish.
The banchan they served us are Beansprouts, Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Mash, Spinach, Korean Anchovies, Radish Kimchi, and Cabbage Kimchi. A favorite is the Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Mash, which is a Korean version of the well-loved mashed potato. In the Korean tradition, more formal meals serve more variety of banchan.
The Seng Galbi is something you should not miss when dining at Sariwon Korean Barbecue. This dish is made by grilling fresh USDA Choice beef short ribs without any seasoning added to the meat. The beef is only cut upon order to guarantee freshness. According to Miss Donna, all of their ingredients especially the beef are imported from only the best sources. After the beef is grilled, it is rolled in lettuce and sesame leaves along with thin garlic slices and soybean paste. The Seng Galbi costs Php 780 per 280 grams of beef.
USDA Beef for Seng Galbi
The Jeonju Bibimbap is served like a veggie and egg topped rice on a hot stone bowl. The heat of the bowl cooks the veggies and egg when you mix them right upon serving. The stone bowl is really hot so be careful in mixing. If you want a spicy kick on your bibimbap, add chili paste according to your liking. This dish is quite huge and can be shared.
Of course, it is a sin to leave the four corners of Sariwon Korean Barbecue without tasting the legendary bulgogi. The Deungsim Yangnyeom Bulgogi is one of the bestsellers. The thin slices of USDA beef is marinated with honey and cooked right off the smokeless grill on the table. Bulgogi is cooked in a certain sequence as Koreans like it. The beef is grilled quickly along with the vegetables while the broth is heated on the sides. Once you are done eating the beef and veggies, the sweet potato noodles are cooked on the broth. The sweet potato noodles is made in-house and they are fresh every time. If you prefer to eat the beef, veggies, and noodles all together, like most Filipino customers do, you can tell the waiter that’s how you want to eat it so he or she will cook them simultaneously.
Beef and Veggies for Bulgogi
Sweet Potato Noodles for Bulgogi
Sariwon Korean Barbecue offers its own twist on the Korean spirit – soju. The Sangria Soju is fruity but sneaky so make sure that if you down lots of this, don’t drive. This alcoholic beverage is soju and red wine filled with slices of apples, oranges, and lemons.
Big Glass of Sangria Soju
The waiters at Sariwon Korean Barbecue are very helpful especially with lots of curious questions we have been throwing. They are also the one who cook the food right off your table. It gives a feeling of having your own chef for the night. And they have great stories too. Dining in this restaurant is a great avenue to learn more about Korean dining.
Our Lovely Server Cooking Bulgogi
Always leave room for dessert. Sariwon Korean Barbecue served as Sikhye, which is a traditional Korean dessert. Sikhye is a labor of love because they told us that this takes a long time to prepare including the integration of malt and rice. This is something new for my taste buds.
When in Manila, there is already a quick solution to your Korean Barbecue cravings — Sariwon Korean Barbecue.
Sariwon Korean Barbecue
Bonifacio High Street Central
7th cor. 29th Street., Taguig City
Contact No: 621-3205
Facebook Page: Sariwon Korean Barbecue Philippines
Open daily, from 11AM to 11 PM
Sariwon Korean Barbecue: A Taste of Korea at the Heart of BGC