By Alexandra Lin
From sizzling hot plates of grilled meats to piquant kimchi stews and refillable banchan side dishes, we can’t get enough of these Korean barbecue restaurants.
Nestled amid a row of bustling Korean restaurants at Telok Ayer Street is Magal (no. 123).
Magal is unique for its less-often-seen special bbq grill plate with a groove circling it, in which an egg mixture is poured in and steamed. You can savour the egg while the meats are being grilled. The a la carte meat portions may not be as generous as some other places, but the quality is good.
If you have a party of two or three, choose the Signature Combo comprising beef boneless short rib, marinated short rib, pork belly and brisket. There’s also the Beef Combo or Pork Combo, which comes in three tiers filled with different cuts of meat. If you order one of the combos at lunch, you’ll even get a free bowl of cold noodles.
Other dishes worth trying include the seafood and kimchi pancake, which is super crispy and possibly one of the best in town. Just as satisfying are the tteok-bokki (stir-fried rice cake) and japchae (sweet potato noodles with vegetables).
There are two seatings for dinner, but you’ll have ample time to enjoy your meal as dishes arrive swiftly to every table.
This Korean eatery at 21 Amoy Street looks like a small and modest joint that occupies a three storey shophouse. Score a table at the second and third levels if you want some privacy. Otherwise, opt for the ground level, which has a homey setting decked out with charming wallpaper and wooden furnishing. This place is reminiscent of a traditional casual eatery in Seoul.
The helpful staff shuttles from one table to the next, but still offer to grill your chosen beef or pork cuts. After the meats are nicely charred, they are kept warm on a small hibachi grill at your table. Enjoy the succulent beef or pork with the accompanying dips.
The satisfying banchan dishes and kimchi made using fresh ingredients are excellent. The kimchi pancake is slightly thicker than other versions and fried till the edges are deliciously crisp. If this place is full, you can try booking Dal-In at the nearby 17 Boon Tat Street.
Located at 32 Maxwell Chambers, Ee Moo is a comfortable restaurant where most of the tables are well spaced out and separated with dividers. The extensive menu may be intimidating, but ask for recommendations from the waitstaff. Service is prompt.
The assortment of banchan dishes like marinated seaweed, pickled cucumber and glass noodles are superbly fresh and authentic.
Not so keen on meats? Then dive into some of the more interesting seafood items such as spicy marinated crab, stir-fried small octopus with pork belly, and fermented skate. Other unique dishes include noodles in cold soymilk broth as well as oyster kimchi. Solo diners aren’t forgotten here – the menu includes several sets (comprising meat, stew and rice) for one person.
The very popular Hyang Yeon has three outlets to choose from: 128 Telok Ayer Street, Chinatown Point, and 2 Peck Seah Street. The latter is furnished with dividers/booth seats.
Service staff is friendly and will help you to efficiently fire up the meats even before you ask.
The menu is massive – so ask for recommendations. Alternatively, if you’re rushing for time, just order the grilled bulgogi or spicy pork set. Try the punchy flavours of the signature Korean herb bossam filled with pork belly braised in special sauce and Korean herbs, and served with kimchi. Or, savour one of the belly-warming Korean style hotpots or fiery kimchi stews on rainy days.
This place is so popular it has two outlets at Amoy Street (no 93 and 98) and one at 22 Cross Street. This 10-year-old establishment is one of the few Korean bbq places in Singapore that uses charcoal to cook, creating a smoky treatment for your meats. The menu offers an extensive selection of pork and beef. For smaller tables, there’s an All-in-One set menu for two persons – which includes items like prime oyster blade beef, pork belly, pear onion marinated pork collar and marinated chicken. Interesting pancakes include cheese kimchi pancake and seafood okonomi pancake. You can even order the ‘half half’ pancake comprising half portion of kimchi and half of seafood.
Wang Dae Bak Pocha BBQ a few doors down features traditional iron grill bbq. The décor is reminiscent of a Korean Street scene back in 70s and 80s. Highlights here include marinated pork belly, prime ribs, pork knuckles and bibimbap.