That last part of our title, well, was not really related in any of our travel stories. But we just can’t help compare the sexy Korean deejay Jinri Park with our favorite hot and spicy Jjamppong – a Korean spicy seafood noodle soup which we really like!
Our journey to Korean dishes started way back in the early 2000s when we were part of a group handling guest-related activities for foreigners like Japanese and Koreans. We dined and drank with these businessmen who came here to our country to have some fun while transacting their business projects. True to that, some enjoyed the stay and became permanent residents of our country. Remember Nakpil Street in Manila way back in early 2000s? How about Ortigas Center when it was just a developing call-center district way back then? And in Makati, who would have not noticed Koreans, particularly in Jupiter Street and Makati Avenue, who were then starting to build-up their residencies? Time flies and we were bombarded with Koreanovelas – just a reminder that indeed, the Koreans have landed here!
When I visited Subic, Boracay, and Cebu, the most notable foreigners I saw were Koreans. Koreans here. Koreans there. Pop-in, Jinri Park. Does Kpop rings a bell to you guys?
Korean barbecue and kimchi was among the top best-sellers since Korean dishes were introduced in many restaurants, snack centers, and clubs. At the same time, Korean inspired and owned by Koreans themselves started to sprout like mushrooms all over the country. Just go to Adriatico Street in Manila and you’ll see a lot of this kind of restaurants.
Yes, aside from Jjamppong, Filipinos learned and fell in love with kimchi. It’s the exploring traits of Pinoys that made it easy for us to adapt our foreign neighbors cuisines.
Lately, there’s this business partners who were able to conceptualize a new restaurant to compete with other existing Korean restaurants in own, and they called it Woo Galbi. I was intrigued by the sound of their name so out of curiosity I searched for its meaning. Galbi is of course is a Korean word for ‘rib’ and Woo? That I’m not sure. If it means to ‘woo’, like to try to gain the love from another person, Woo Galbi must mean to ‘woo people to try to love their short ribs‘. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Anyways, Brian Tiu and chef Chris Oronce decided to bring out Woo Galbi and are targeting this April to open their first branch at EDSA Shangri-La Mall in Mandaluyong. Brian and chef Chris are the owners of Wafu Japanese Restaurant in Greenhills.
Me and a bunch of foodies were invited to sample Woo Galbi, – first dibs, because it isn’t open yet. So here’s our Woo Galbi selections that I’m going to share with you. Just a bunch of photos to curl up your taste buds.
Spinach Salad with Hollandaise sauce
First to be served was the Spinach Salad. It looks so deliciously good that I didn’t want to mess the presentation and I just let it sit on the table. Yet after some time, I pick one of my neighbor’s Spinach Salad to taste its goodness.
I was wondering too why we were served a futo maki but since Woo Galbi is also owned by Wafu partners, I just quickly put away those thoughts aside. Chef Chris is really into the business for he made sure that the food will roll out on our table will be just as perfect and nice. True to it, the futo maki came out and tasted wonderful. Finely wrapped in nori, filled with at least six (in my observation) ingredients – the rice, tuna, cucumber, omelette, and two more that I failed to ask. But normally, a futo maki would have either bamboo shoots, tiny fish roe, and oboro whitefish flakes.
Eel with Cream Cheese Maki
This one tops my favorite of the appetizers that were served during the food sampling. Maybe it’s the outer layer of the rice that’s enjoyably crispy and savory eel sauce that were poured on top of this sushi roll.
Spicy Soft Sea Shell Crab Roll
They are like small soldiers readying for battle but their problem is I’m going to break them and eat ’em! I love the texture of the sea shell crab meat rolled inside and it wasn’t that spicy for me. It was just perfectly blended well with the crab roll.
Yukhoe (Beef Tartare)
It will take a strong stomach to fill in Yukhoe or Beef Tartare in your mouth but once you have let it go down the throat, there’s no way you’ll be stopping for another round. That was my first time to try a raw meat, Korean-style. Yep, I have tried sashimi and our very own kilawin but this is far different. Yukhoe is made of fresh raw beef meat, particularly tenderloin or beef flank steak meat, frozen for less than a day. Straight out from the ref, raw meat is then mixed with other ingredients, lots of garlic is recommended. Original recipe includes Korean pear, soy sauce, sesame oil, ground black pepper, salt, roasted sesame seeds, and pine nuts. Preparation is much similar when you are making a beef patty for a hamburger. After mixing all the ingredients, voilà! Yukhoe is served! Grab a bite. It doesn’t have an after-taste.
Pancakes: Seafood Pajeon and Kimchi Pajeon
Think of the traditional Tortang Hipon (Shrimp Omelette), flattened at least 1 inch thin. That was just to compare if you want to visualize the taste. Seafood Pajeon and Kimchi Pajeon are definitely a must when you visit a Korean restaurant or perhaps for this call, when you order at Woo Galbi once they open at Shangri-La. If you love kimchi, then the Kimchi Pajeon is a must-try. Presented like a family size pizza, everyone will have their piece!
Uhm! I love this! I am a tiger prawn eater and I love how Koreans make theirs so appetizing! Seu Bokkeum is Korean wok fried tiger prawns in hot sauce and is best served with steamed rice and kimchi. Getting the picture already? You have to try this. Just get ready with a glass of water for the kick of its spicy flavor!
Prawn Roll and Crab Roll
Seriously, I’m a bit confused which is which now. What I know and from my taste bud’s memory is they’re both definitely good!
Now we go for the surprise treats! Korean Chigae (Soup)!
Imagine your kimchi served over a hot bowl of stew. This is what Korean dish is all about, because kimchi equates to Korean culture. Once these programs, Pinoy Abroad and the iWitness documentary featured the rich culture of Korea and there I found out that there are not only one kind of kimchi, they have varieties of it. Dried, preserved, and for this instance, kimchi stew! Man, I would loved to be transported to South Korea now. Kim Jong-Un stop your threat now.
Yuk Gae Jang (Spicy Beef and Vegetable Soup)
This one’s for the book for another spicy surprise treat! More water please!
Hae Mul Tang (Spicy Seafood Soup)
Can’t Koreans pause for a while from having these deliciously spicy food? Damn! Is this why female Koreans looks hotter and hotter these days?
Whew! Give me another bowl to finish!
Budae Jjigae (Army Base Stew)
Let’s travel back in time and know why this dish is known as the Army Base Stew.
“Soon after the Korean War, food was scarce in Seoul, South Korea. Some people made use of surplus foods from U.S. Army bases around the Uijeongbu area, Pyeongtaek area (also called Songtan) or Munsan area, such as hot dogs, canned ham, and Spam, and incorporated them into a traditional spicy soup flavored with gochujang (red chili paste) and kimchi.
Budae jjigae is still popular in South Korea. The dish often incorporates modern ingredients such as instant ramen noodles and sliced American cheese. Other ingredients may include ground beef, sliced sausages, baked beans, dropwort, onions, green onions, tteok, tofu, chili peppers, macaroni, garlic, mushrooms and other vegetables in season.“- excerpts from Wikipedia.
I have to point that one because with Budae Jjigae, one will have a visualization of what transpired in South Korea that made the people there to come up with a very delicious stew. To think that this happened because of food scarcity during the Korean War. With this info itself, I would bow down to whoever concocted this flavorful dish. “Mashi-e-sawyo!” Oh! That means delicious in Korean language.
Kalbi Jim or Galbi Jjim (Korean Beef Stew)
Topping our list for best-sellers will definitely include this Korean Beef Stew or Galbi Jjim. This is one of the popular dishes in Korea and I couldn’t argue with that. Once you taste it, you’ll enjoy the tenderized beef meat (short ribs). It’s like eating kaldereta. Man, this is so Pinoy among the dishes we’ve sampled. I love the sauce and the over-all ingredients! Best as rice toppings.
This is just ain’t tofu, there’s couple of tiger prawns swimming in my soup! They called this Tofu Soup but I guess they wanted more ingredients so as not to bore the hungry tummy! Good thing we are not that allergic to seafood, especially to prawns. What a relief!
Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps
If you love Chicken Teriyaki, then you will love this Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Chicken meat are perfectly grilled and served with lettuce.
Imagine lechon kawali, thick sliced pork belly, grilled to crisp and marinated with special Korean BBQ. Love that flavor. If today is your cheat day, have some of Samgyupsal. If paired with rice, our food server told us that it’s called Samgyupsal Sam. We’ve really learned a lot of Korean words that time. Before I only knew “An-nyoung-haseyo?” Maybe this time I can ask Jinri Park for a date and we’ll dine at her turf, hehehe.
Kalbi Jim Nap
I hope the name of this menu sounds right. The server told me that this is the name of this next dish. Quite confused with the Kalbi Jim stew and now with the same name with ‘Nap‘ at the end means grilled beef short ribs with rice. If there’s anybody out there who want to correct my entries, please free to recommend. I’m not yet a professional when it comes to Korean words, hehehe.
Anyways, this dish like the Samgyupsal is already a meal and will fill-up your tummy with rich goodness. again, kudos to chef Chris for making the beef short ribs so tender. Satisfied!
Ojingo Gui (Grilled Squid)
I love seafood and I never missed an opportunity when there are grilled squid served on the table. I always target the heads first or the tentacles. A perfect cooked squid for me is not the ones with a ‘rubberized‘ texture when you get into a bite and you hardly can chew it. Thumbs down for that. But when it’s perfectly cooked, like when you bite and your teeth sink to it and divide the squid meat, man that is perfect! Just like how chef Chris managed to cook their Ojingo Gui. Good job!
We are not yet done. We also wanted to give credits to the other items that are regularly served with these delicious meals.
Triple Sauce made up of sesame oil, samjang (spicy red pepper dipping sauce), and Kali marinade. During the course of our food sampling, I’ve also noticed that Koreans love their rice with sesame seeds.
And here’s some thoughts to ponder on Korean dining etiquettes if you want to impress your Korean date.
1. When you are having a meal with others, do not speak of smelly or dirty things. But I guess this is a universal thing. You don’t want to discuss ‘sensitive’ topics that will turn-off your dates, right?
2. When eating a meal, neither eat so slowly as to seem to be eating against your will nor so fast as if to be taking someone else’s food. This also speaks for itself. For me, it’s better to chew your food and eat it slow so you can digest it properly. Eating too fast will give the impression you’re a certified P.G. (patay-gutom). Just kidding!
3. Do not throw chopsticks on the table. I’ve learned this from watching Chinese movies and they also say that never to put the chopsticks inside the bowl or plate. It means bad luck. The best and complimentary will be putting the chopsticks beside the plate.
4. Spoons should not touch plates, making a clashing sound. Although some culture would love to hear you munch your food loudly or hear your utensils making sounds, Koreans like it the quiet way.
So there you have it. It’s like we have journeyed to Korea, huh? I hope you’ve also learned a lot from this topic and if there are corrections about the names of the food mentioned, feel free to comment below. I would love to hear reactions from you guys.
Until then, Kam-sahamnida!
- Galbi Jjim (sophnstuff.wordpress.com)
- Frugal Traveler Blog: In Seoul, Gangnam Frugal Style (frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com)