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Category / Korean

A couple weeks ago we were invited to Goong Korean BBQ Restaurant at Ampang with the promise of a hearty traditional Korean meal.

The restaurant is located at the appropriately named “Little Korea” right across the road from Ampang Point, an area littered with many restaurants, with more than half of them serving Korean food.

Gong Korean restaurant at Little Korea in Ampang
Goong Korean restaurant at Little Korea in Ampang

The restaurant itself is located on the first floor, right on top of another restaurant that serves, you guessed it, Korean food.

The interior decoration is best described as minimalistic, or if you’re a little more direct, supremely bare. However, one does not eat tables, chairs, nor the pretty paintings on the wall, so if you’re looking for food instead of an ambiance worthy of that fine date you’re bringing, this arrangement would  suffice. It was clean and comfortable.

wide selection of banchan to go around
wide selection of banchan to go around

Our foods were pre-ordered by the lady boss, Laura (despite the name, she is Korean), who also doubled as the chef.

First to come were the multitude of banchan, or small dishes that always accompany pretty much any Korean meals. This includes kimchi, seaweed, broccoli, and various other types of vegetable with chili pepper seasoning. They were generally pretty good, I like the fact that the kimchi served was quite strong and well prepared.

grilled meat, the main stay of any Korean BBQ restaurant
grilled meat, the main stay of any Korean BBQ restaurant

Since the name of  the place includes the word “BBQ”, they do have classic Korean BBQ dishes in the menu.

We tried Dwaeji Galbi (grilled pork ribs, RM30) and Gochujang Samgyeopsal (Grilled Pork Loin with red hot pepper paste, RM22). The meat were well marinated and tasted pretty decent, but BBQ pork can only go so far, my favorite is still Galbi (marinated beef short ribs), but unfortunately we did not try the version from here.

The point to note is that so far as Korean BBQ pork dishes is concerned, these were more than reasonable.

hot & spicy pork and Mandu (dumpling)
hot & spicy pork and Mandu (dumpling)

The dish that intrigued us the most was the hot & spicy pork (RM 22) that, according to Laura, required tremendous patient and multitude of steps in preperation, and she also promised that it is a dish you can’t find anywhere within Klang Valley. This is as “traditional” as it gets.

True to her words, it was delicious, and doubly so if you love meat with strong flavor and good dosage of spiciness. I loved it and would not hesitate to order the same thing when I’m there again.

Mandu (dumpling, RM 20) is another home-made affair by the lady boss/chef. While homey and warm, I find the skin a tad too thick for my liking. As far as dumpling goes, I still prefer my siao long bao and sui kao.

Bulgogi jeongol (beef) and Bulgogi jeongol (ginseng chicken)
Bulgogi jeongol (beef) and Samgyetang (ginseng chicken)

Bulgogi jeongol (beef hot pot,RM 50) is just as what you’d expect from some of the better Korean restaurants. Sweet and flavorful, goes well with a bit of Korean steamed rice and some tea.

The Samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup, RM 30) is a good comfort food perfect for those rainy nights, and one that would probably help my runny nose right now as I’m writing this article. You can also ask for the version with rice stuffed in the chicken’s cavity. This dish was actually my first Korean experience, and I still like it as much after all these years.

bibimbap, Kimchi Jeon (pancake), Kimchi Jigae
bibimbap, Kimchi Jeon (pancake), Kimchi Jigae

If you come alone and prefer something ultra healthy, Goong does serve bibimbap. I was never a fan of one, but this version does taste okay to me.

the Kimchi Jeon (kimchi pancake, RM 25) is, if you would, Korean pizza that tastes like a cross between pancake and pizza but with a strong flavor of kimchi. I find it easy to eat, and would love to have one delivered to my house while watching those late night NFL games.

Last but not least, Haze gave her seal of approval to the most important dish of any Korean restaurant – Kimchi Jiggae (kimchi soup, RM 17). The version here is the first one that she actually liked after we started making our own kimchi soup at home.

This one is strong, spicy, sour, and everything that you’d expect in a top quality kimchi stew. If you like it strong and don’t want to have to cook it yourself, come here, it’s cheaper than the ingredients you’d need to make an equivalent tasting pot too.

owner, daughter, and an enthusiastic Korean customer
owner, daughter, and an enthusiastic Korean customer

We were also fortunate enough to be joined by one of Laura’s friend, a Korean lady who decided to teach us a Korean custom when it comes to drinking – when you empty your glass, place it over your head to indicate that you actually finished the glass.

We had a good time over the session, and Goong Korean BBQ restaurant, while not perfect, did deliver what it promised – a wholesome, hearty, traditional Korean meal. I think it is a place worth checking out for yourself.

map to Goong Korean Restaurant, Ampang

Address:
Goong Korean BBQ Restaurant
B 3-2, Jalan Ampang Utama 2/2,
Ampang 68000
Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.15553, 101.75202
Tel016-309 1160

Goong Korean BBQ Restaurant

In many ways, Korean food is like a bastard child of East Asian cuisine. With THE big brother Japanese food enjoying tremendous success around the world with a million types of Japanese restaurants from conveyor belt restaurants to ramen stalls to supermarket takeaway, Korean cuisine is still largely represented by Korean BBQ places.

Most Korean restaurants look the same, a hold in the middle of the table, with an exhaust vent extended from the ceiling. With such specifications and most foods involving BBQ meat with full service, Korean restaurants are also typically out of many young adult’s budget. It became a bit of a one-in-a-while cuisine, like Japanese food 20-30 years, or French food today (and most likely, forever.)

KimichiHaru at Jaya One, PJ
KimichiHaru at Jaya One, PJ

Then there’s KimchiHaru, a quaint little restaurant located at the slightly less glamourous corners of Jaya One. I actually discovered this little restaurant while making my rounds in the parking lot looking for a spot. The photos and menu on the outside looks enticing and reasonably priced, hence we went in for a quick lunch.

Sam Gye Tang and Beef Bulgogi set
Sam Gye Tang and Beef Bulgogi set

A quick look at the menu revealed the usual Korean BBQ dishes – the chicken, pork, and beef bulgolgi, kimchi soup, fish/pork cutlet, and spring rolls too. We ordered Sam Gye Tang (chicken soup with ginseng, RM 23) and Beef Bulgogi (RM 23).

Instead of the unlimited supply of banchan (side dishes) found at full service Korean restaurants, we were served with 4 small portions of them with kimchi and salad too.

While the kimchi was a bit lackluster and the banchans we had were nothing to shout about, the sam gye tang turned out to be pretty decent, it was a quarter of a pretty good size chicken with the typical ingredients you find in such dish. I finished the soup too. Haze’s beef bulgogi was commendable too.

Haze and KY at KimchiHaru
Haze and KY at KimchiHaru

To me, KimchiHaru represents a step in the right direction for Korean food in this country, with it’s affordable menu (weekday bibimbap at RM 9.80, lunch set at RM 17.80), clean and modern set up, it is sure to attract younger crowd that will graduate to appreciate Korean food.

map to Jaya One, Petaling Jaya

Address:
KimchiHaru
No. 13-LG1 Block D, Jaya One,
No 72A, Jalan University,
46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
GPS: 3.118298,101.635294
Tel: 03-7629 8020

Daorae Korean BBQ Restaurant is probably no stranger to most who loves Korean food. My first visit to this chain was the USJ Taipan main branch at least 4-5 years ago. I went  there again last week when the worms in my gut was starving for some Galbi.

Daorae Korean BBQ Garden at USJ Taipan
Daorae Korean BBQ Garden at USJ Taipan

I’m not quite sure if this is the very first branch of Daorae, they have branches now at Hartamas, Penang Bayan Point, Kota Damansara, Kepong, Puchong Bandar Puteri, and another new one in PJ (the NZX branch has since closed). When we were there, there was an friendly old Korean guy who looked very much like the owner, and he explained that “Daorae” means many people, which translate to good business.

I must say they chose the right name. Daorae for Korean food is much like the Superdining chains for Japanese food (Rakuzen, Sushi Zanmai, Pasta Zanmai, Kura)

banchan - kimchi and more!
banchan – kimchi, salad, chives, cockles and more!

The one thing I always love about korean food is all the banchan (small dishes). Other than the standard kimchi,  you almost always get something different on each visit. On this trip there were cockles, steamed egg in hot pot, salad, chives, fish cake, and more. I think we had some 10 different varieties. You can usually ask for refill too.

galbi (marinated beef), 3 layer pork
galbi (marinated beef), 3 layer pork

For the two of us, I ordered a portion of galbi (marinated beef short ribs) and 3 layer pork for the grill.

As usual, the expertly trained servers did the whole grilling right in front of us. Galbi’s best served with the ssamjang sauce (fermented bean paste & pepper) and wrapped in fresh lettuce. I like to add a piece of grilled garlic too.

The samgyeopsal (three layer pork) was lovely too. Grilled and usually goes either with the same ssamjang or gireumjang sauce (sesame oil and salt). Nothing like some pork to fill the stomach.

kimchi jiggae, Haze
kimchi jiggae, Haze

Other than the two grilled meat and those free banchan, I also ordered a portion of kimchi jiggae – a stew with kimchi, tofu, pork, scallion, onion and such. This is typically served with a bowl of fragrant Korean rice, which I like.

It was as usual, a satisfying meal at Daorae, though one that isn’t exactly economical (RM 140) for the two of us, otherwise I’d do it more often. Galllbiiiiiiiii

map to Daorae Korean Restaurant at USJ Taipan

Address:
Daorae Korean BBQ Restuarant
No.8C, Top Speed Business Center,
Jalan USJ 10/1J,
47620 UEP Subang Jaya, Selangor

GPS: 3.048045, 101.585987
Tel: 03-8024-2616

With huge influx of international students each year taking advantage of some of the region’s best education system, Melbourne CBD is a place that is heavily influenced by what these students demand. When it comes to food, you can find almost as many Japanese, Korean, and Chinese food as you can with Western/Australian establishments.

Oriental Spoon Korean Cuisine at Melbourne
Oriental Spoon, Korean Cuisine

Oriental Spoon, located just right across Melbourne Central on La Trobe, is one such places. Though labeled Korean Cuisine, like many Asian restaurants around the city, this place has assimilated to the demands of Australian and Asian alike.

What you get is not exactly authentic Korean food, the portions are huge, the kimchi less strong tasting, lesser variety of banchan, and generally tastes that are more “mainstream”. This isn’t something you’ll ever find in Korea, or even the little Korea in Ampang.

banchan, beef casserole, spicy pork bulgogi
banchan, beef casserole, spicy pork bulgogi

While the purists might argue that it is a waste of time visiting a place that served heavily localized (some might even go to the extend of using the word bastardized) food, I prefer to leave the verdict after tasting the food. If Mellissa and friends like this place, it should mean something.

Even though it was a weekday night, Oriental Spoon was already packed when we got there. Customers consist of probably 60% Asian at this place. We waited for some 15 minutes before securing a table.

Korean food at Oriental Spoon, Melbourne
a big pot of boiling beef casserole, best for winter weather

Like most Korean restaurants, they offer a variety of grilled meats such as a few choices of beef, pork belly, and even seafood. There’s also your standard bulgogi, kimchi soup, bibimbap (mixed meal) and so forth.

Even though there was only two of us, we ordered a beef casserole ($30+) and a spicy pork bulgogi ($18 or so) to go with some steamed rice.

There were four types of banchan served, and seriously speaking, none of them worth a mention. The kimchi was especially disappointing.

beef casserole and pork bulgogi
best served with Korean steamed rice

The spicy pork bulgogi though, was absolutely marvelous. Generous portion of fatty stripes of pork soaked in spicy oil with some sesame, onion, and other seasoning makes the dish very rich and succulent but also come with a kick. It was very sinful yet irresistible. The pork went very well with rice.

The beef casserole is a rather huge pot of raw beef, mushroom, vegetable, glass noodle, and other ingredients stewed in a broth right on the table. The soup gets better and better with time and at the tail end of the dinner we had a very sweet and rather tasty broth to go with plenty of beef. It was very good, but it was also a bit too much especially for only 2 person.

Map to Oriental Spoon
Oriental Spoon is located right across Melbourne Central

We ended up having to bag some of the leftovers despite getting ourselves stuffed silly. It was a good meal and decently priced too. However, I think this place is best for a group of 4 and above.

Oriental Spoon is also not for you if you’re interested in really authentic Korean food, but if you want something different but yet still within most people’s comfort zone. This place is worth visiting.

Address:
Oriental Spoon
254 La Trobe St,
Melbourne VIC 3000,
Australia

GPS: -37.810017,144.961467
Tel: 03-9654 9930

Seoul Garden at Sunrise Tower is probably one of the very first Korean restaurants in Penang. I remember the restaurant being there as far back as my memory could remember.

In the back of my mind, I had always thought that dining at this type of place would be rather expensive, and at the time, something that my RM 2.20/hr McDonald’s job would never allow me to afford. I was just look at people going in and out while I was flipping burger in the same building.

Seoul Garden, banchan
plenty of banchan (side dishes) as usual

I made it a point that I would visit this place eventually, but little did I know that it actually took over one and a half decade before that happened. Together with Mellissa and my family last weekend, we had dinner at Seoul Garden.

As it turned out, Seoul Garden is just like most of the Korean restaurants I’ve visited in KL. A stove in the middle for grilling meat, a menu that includes all the usual suspects like beef bulgogi, kalbi, sam gye tang (ginseng chicken soup), kimchi soup, pork belly, and so on.

ox tongue, pork belly, and pork bulgogi
ox tongue, pork belly, and pork bulgogi

My brother and sister are both pretty adventurous when it comes to food, but tragically, my mom is a bit too conservative in the same department. Since this is the first time mom stepped into a Korean restaurant, I ordered something that would be a bit more familiar for her, sam giap sal (pork belly, RM 22), pork bulgogi (RM 25), and sam gye tang (ginseng chicken soup). I also ordered so hyeo gui (ox tongue RM 35) for good measure.

sam gye tang korean ginseng chicken soup
Korean ginseng chicken soup

There were about 6-7 types of banchan (side dishes) served with the main dishes we ordered. There was the customary kimchi which was rather potent and tasted pretty good, bean sprouts, vegetable, jelly thingy, green chili, and radish. I thought the banchan tasted just alright, nothing spectacular, but not bad either.

Our first grilled item was the ox tongue. Thinly sliced (about a dozen slices) without any marinate, the grilled ox tasted wonderful. The slight springy texture and the unaltered taste goes very well with just a touch of oil and salt. The pork belly was not overly fatty and came in 5 big slices, I think we had slightly overcooked it as it was a bit too dry by the time we hauled the pieces out of the grilled. Could have been tastier otherwise.

mom, brother, sister, niece, mellissa, and KY
mom, brother, KY, Mell, sister, niece (Ryan, you have a challenger)

Pork bulgogi was pretty good, flavorful though a little salty. However, it does go very well with steamed rice. I always love Korean rice with it’s stickier texture and stronger aroma. The ginseng chicken soup too was a very good dish, the soup had a very strong ginseng taste and the chicken meat cooked to a very soft and tender texture. Mom liked the soup quite a bit.

map to seoul garden at gurney drive

Total bill came to about RM 160. Pretty good deal for 5 adults and a little girl (whom is cute enough to steal some lime light from suan‘s nephew – Ryan), say hello to Taasha! The same meal in KL would easily cost twice as much, though the portion might be 30-40% bigger.

Address:
Seoul Garden
1st Floor, Sunrise Tower,
Gurney Drive
Penang, Malaysia

GPS: 5.439805,100.30815
Tel: 04-229 8705