Kyspeaks.com

Malaysian Food Blog, Travel, Diving & More

Tag / banchan

Korean food is usually associated with retractable chimneys on every table with meat grilling on the stove and a plethora of small dishes everywhere. Well, that sort of formula is glorious for weekend dinners, but not exactly practical or economical for lunch.

Then we have the lunch sets at Onsemiro Korean restaurant at the Intermark.

Onsemiro Korean Fine Dining restaurant at Intermark KL
Onsemiro Korean Fine Dining restaurant at Intermark KL

Onsemiro is located at the end of the second floor at the Intermark Mall, right above the entrace to Double Tree Hilton. On the outside, the restaurant is much bigger than the exterior would have you believed, with classy decoration, semi-open kitchen, and a side of wall displaying wine and soju to choose from as well.

spicy tofu soup set, RM 25++
spicy tofu soup set, RM 25++

Unlike most Korean restaurants, Onsemiro is pork free (which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the individual), so dishes that comes with pork traditionally, such as kimchi jiggae, is substituted with chicken. The result turns rather decent though.

For lunch, there are quite a lot of sets to choose from, with pricing started at about RM 20 to RM 40 and up. If you’re flash an Intermark pass card, there’s a 10% discount too.

lunch sets starts at around RM 20 upwards, with plenty to choose from
lunch sets starts at around RM 20 upwards, with plenty to choose from

One of my favorite lunch sets there is the spicy tofu soup that packs quite a bit of punch in intensity. There’s half a crab in the soup, silky smooth tofu, and of course, kimchi. The set also comes with six banchan (small dishes) and rice (you can ask for cold noodle too). Additionally, every set is followed by desserts.

Their beef short ribs set (RM 43++) is rather delicious as well, and my colleagues reported that the beef patties were more than satisfactory too.

If you work nearby, try this, but do call ahead for booking as it tends to get packed everyday.

directions to Intermark, KL

Address:
Onsemiro Korean Fine Dining
The Intermark,
Jalan Tun Razak,
50400 Kuala Lumpur
GPS: 3.16154, 101.71996
Tel: 03-2161 2461

When we think about wine pairing, Korean food isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, the only type of alcohol that’s associated with Korean cuisine, in most Malaysian’s mind, is soju and nothing else, not even beer.

So you could say that I was a little bit intrigued by what’s in store for us when I was invited to a wine/cocktail pairing dinner at Bulgogi Brothers.

Bulgogi Brothers at Paradigm Mall
Bulgogi Brothers at Paradigm Mall

Bulgogi Brothers is a pretty big chain of Korean restaurants that has its presence in Korea, the Philippines, Canada, and Malaysia. There are currently four branches located at Paradigm Mall (this review), Pavilion KL, Mid Valley Megamall, and e@Curve.

The one key difference between Bulgogi Brothers and most other Korean restaurants is that they are pork free.

banchan, including kimchi, lotus roots and even kangkung
banchan, including kimchi, lotus roots and even kangkung

Like pretty much all Korean dinners, we were served several dishes of banchan, or small Korean dishes to start.

The variety isn’t fantastic, there’s a bowl of corn, sweet potato & edamame, then there’s kimchi, lotus roots, and a few types of vegetables. They tastes alright, but if you expect to have a dozen different types of banchan like it is often served at other Korean places, you will be disappointed.

makguli goes well with haemul pajeon (Korean pancake), spicy chicken maekjeok
makguli goes well with haemul pajeon (Korean pancake), spicy chicken maekjeok

Our first real dish of the night was haemul pajeon, or Korean seafood pancake (RM 27.90). The pancake is packed with ingredients such as prawns, mussels, squid, and green onions. It wasn’t too thick nor soggy, and I thought it was done very nicely.

We had makguli cocktail, the milky Korean rice wine with strawberry puree to go with it. The wine is unfiltered and made from fermented rice, wheat, and water. I would describe it to be like a powered up vitagen, tasty!

The makguli is priced at RM 25 per bottle, and a jug of makguli cocktail at RM 27.90.

soju needs no introduction, the corn soup was creamy and delicious
soju needs no introduction, the corn soup was creamy and delicious

Next up was soju and paired with spicy chicken maekjeok (RM 20.90). The chicken on skewer is not entirely unlike our satey but carries a slight tangy, sweet, and spicy taste to it. The dark meat is soft and juicy, and the stronger taste of meat goes well with the clean and natural taste of soju.

The soju is served chilled, RM 19.90 per bottle (Chum Churum brand), or if you prefer, in a sort of Korean mojitocalled soji-to at RM 14.90 per glass.

Bulgogi Brothers also served us a bowl of thick and creamy corn soup that was beautiful.

galbi kkotsal - boneless marinated beef short ribs
galbi kkotsal – boneless marinated beef short ribs

No Korean meal is complete without some good old fashion Korean BBQ.

Our galbi kkotsal (RM 72.90), or boneless beef short ribs marinated in special bulgogi sauce, came with a bit over a dozen pieces of meat, garlic, onion, and mushroom. In comparison with other places, the price is on the high side, and according to our host, this is due to the better cut of beef chosen.

I thought it was perhaps just a bit too sanitized and didn’t taste quite as flavorful as other places. It was decent nonetheless, but at over RM 70, one might think twice choosing this from the menu. It went well with soju, however.

bulgogi brothers special with black raspberry wine
bulgogi brothers special with black raspberry wine

Next up was Bulgogi Brothers Special (RM 81.90), a combination of Unyang and Gwangyang-style bulgogi. In another word, beef patties and thinly sliced beef, with the latter fried in combination with green onion and garlic.

The beef were pretty juicy and not lacking in flavor, portion wise this dish isn’t too bad either. The pairing was a bottle of wine made from black raspberries and plums, very sweet and absolutely delightful, the type of wine that is perhaps more appropriate for dessert, but I’m not complaining. It was delightful.

The wine was Bokbunjajoo and priced at RM 58.50 per bottle.

chicken bibimbap, KY, Haze, Hitomi, Marcus
chicken bibimbap, KY, Haze, Hitomi, Marcus

Our last item in the tasting menu was chicken bibimbap (RM 26.90), a popular Korean dish with meat, vegetable, and a raw egg all mixed together in a stone bowl. I never quite find a taste for bibimbap and this experience did not change my mind. Others said it was perhaps a tad too dry, I’m not qualified to comment though, I didn’t like it.

In conclusion, I think the ambiance and dining experience in Bulgogi Brothers is certainly on par with some of the nicer restaurants, food wise it isn’t exactly top notch, but if you have a taste for some Korean alcohol experience or if you’re looking for a decent pork-free Korean restaurant, this chain isn’t a bad place to start.

map to Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya

Address:
Bulgogi Brothers
The Boulevard, Paradigm Mall
Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya
Selangor
GPS3.108806, 101.59564
Tel03-7886 3543

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

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