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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
The Boulevard, Paradigm Mall
Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya
GPS: 3.108806, 101.59564
Tel: 03-7886 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.
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
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
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)
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 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
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
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.
Goong Korean BBQ Restaurant
B 3-2, Jalan Ampang Utama 2/2,
GPS: 3.15553, 101.75202
Tel: 016-309 1160