If that latest K-drama binge has got you craving some spicy Korean cuisine, we’ve got your back with our guide to Korean food
If you think Big Bang and SNSD are the best things to come out of the Republic of Korea, you’re forgetting the joys of bibimbap, Korean BBQ and the delightfully savoury kimchi pancake. Good news for fans of Korean cuisine in Singapore, you’re spoilt for choice, especially around the Tanjong Pagar ’hood. We’ve put together a list of our favourite Korean joints to make it a little easier for you to pick one.
After a night of revelry along Keong Saik, you’ll be pleased to know you have this non-fast food option for the post-beer munchies. Open until 3am, this rustic Korean restaurant is your best bet for late night Korean nosh. Todamgol serves up pretty much every Korean dish you can think of including Bibimbap ($12), Korean pancake ($20) and Korean BBQ dishes as well as the quintessential banchan (assortment of side dishes). In addition to the standards, the restaurant features an extensive menu of rice wines if you’re still up for a nightcap after supper.
Todamgol, 31 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088454. p 6224 7077. Open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm 5.30pm-3am, Sat-Sun 5.30pm-3am.
Captain K Seafood Tower
If you love your seafood, Captain K will quite literally leave you with tiers of joy (nine to be exact!). Like Die Hard in reverse, you’ll work your way down from the top of this massive tower, consisting of nine seafood trays, stacked and steamed on top of each other. The offerings aren’t fixed and are subject to seasonal availability, but expect oceanic bounty like scallops, prawns, squid, oysters and crab. The final tier features a soup base infused with the seafood juices dripping down from the dishes above. Dining at Captain K is a communal affair; so make sure you gather a group together for this pescatarian feast.
Patbingsu Korean Dining House
Bingsu fans, listen up. Patbingsoo has just opened its doors at Plaza Singapura, but spoiler alert: bingsoo isn’t the only scrumptious Korean import on menu. If you’re in the mood for something savoury instead, this laid-back restaurant also serves sinful Korean street food like rolling cheese pork ribs that will get your taste buds tingling. But be sure to look out for their pièce de résistance, the Sinsa Patbingsoo – vanilla ice cream and nata de coco encased within an expertly carved rock melon.
Patbingsoo Korean Dining House, #B2-47, 68 Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura, Singapore 238839. Open Sun-Thu 11.30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11.30am-10.30pm.
Wang Dae Bak
Unlike most Korean BBQ places that use gas grills, Wang Dae Bak elevates itself from its peers by offering charcoal grills, imparting a characteristically smoky taste to the restaurant’s BBQ offerings. What’s another novel offering that we have no complaints about is the free flow of egg. If requested, servers will pour egg mixture into a moat surrounding the BBQ plate so you can cook it to your liking. If you’d rather not deal with the fuss of cooking food yourself, Wang Dae Bak offers a full range of homely Korean dishes like Army Stew ($38, feeds three) and the crowd-pleasing kim chi pancake ($18).
Wang Dae Bak Amoy Street, 98 Amoy Street, Singapore 069918. p. 6226 0450. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm 5.30-10.30pm. Closed on Sun.
Wang Dae Bak China Square, #01-64, 22 Cross Street, China Square Central, Singapore 048421. p. 6225 2646. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm 5.30-10.30pm. Closed on Sun.
The Korean food craze sure has towering appeal in Singapore, and this seafood restaurant on Amoy Street is taking it to new heights. Another resto bringing Korea’s latest food trend to Singapore is K-Tower, a place that lets you get your seafood fix in the CBD without breaking the bank. The restaurant offers three-, five-, seven-, and nine-tier seafood towers brimming with seafood fresh from the tank. Diners can expect a bountiful selection of fresh seafood like Boston lobster, Sri Lankan crabs, Australian abalone, white clams, black mussels, prawns, Canadian oysters, and more. The savoury soup beneath the tower is available in four flavours – seafood, kimchi, Korean ginseng, and budae jjigae (army stew). Of course, classics like Korean ginseng chicken, seafood pancakes and house-made kimchi are also on the menu for the Korean food purists.
K Tower, 74 Amoy Street, Singapore 069893. p. 6221 9928. Open daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm.
You definitely want to make a booking here. Why? The restaurant’s eponymous Korean boss has made a name for herself among Korean expats with her homely cuisine, attracting crazy lunchtime crowds. You’ll find no MSG here as well, so that’s an added bonus. It’s well worth visiting this restaurant in a group as Big Mama offers large sharing dishes like the dakgalbi (Korean rice cakes, vegetables and marinated chicken chunks) and gamjatang (pork rib and potato soup). If you’re all by your lonesome, don’t worry; tuck into a hearty single portion of mandoo ramyun (dumplings with Korean noodles).
Big Mama, 2 Kim Tian Road, Singapore 169244. p. 6270 7704. Open daily 11.30am-3pm 5.30-11pm.
Prepare to get your hands dirty and trust us when we say don’t wear white. If you’re not savvy with the divine combination of fried chicken, sticky sauces and light Korean lager, here’s where you’ll get an education. Standout classics here include the soya chicken wings and, for the seekers of spice, the yangnyum chicken. Should the latter have you breathing fire, cool off with the watermelon soju. This cooling combination of fruit and rice wine comes served in a carved out watermelon that doubles as a novel punchbowl.
We can’t possibly do a Korean restaurant round up and forget our next-door neighbours! Manna serves up a wicked ginseng chicken soup as well as a spicy ttok pokki (sliced rice cakes and vegetables in hot sauce) and seafood pancake with dipping sauce.
Super Star K
Like Wang Dae Bak, Super Star K swaps the usual gas grill for a charcoal one. Here, you’ll have a full selection of your favourite bulgogi meats complemented by a tantalising selection of non-BBQ dishes like soy bean paste stew ($12) and the massive serving of seafood pancake ($25, good for two people unless you’re really hungry).
Super Star K, 75 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088496. p. 6224 0504. Open daily 11.30am-2.30pm 5.30pm-12am.
Masizzim is prepped to set fire to your tastebuds with its sizzling beef, pork and chicken stews. Ordering is simple: choose a meat ($18 for beef, $16 for pork or chicken), pick a level of spiciness from one to four, then choose between Korean udon and glass noodles. Scared of a little spice? Opt for the soy-based broth instead, which has a delicate sweetness thanks to the addition of pineapples and Korean pear. End your meal on a sweet note with some of its homemade Sikhye – a sweet, cooling concoction made from rice and malted barley. Reasonable prices and the laid-back industrial-chic decor make Masizzim a great place to catch up with friends after work.
Masizzim, #B3-02, 313 Somerset. p. 6509 5808. Open Sun-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm.
8 E!ght Korean BBQ
This upscale-than-most Korean barbecue restaurant takes its name from its signature 8 Colour Set ($98), which consists of thick, long strips of Mangalitza pork belly flavoured in eight ways: original, wine, curry, garlic, miso, herb, kalbi and red pepper paste. But like a good all-rounder Korean BBQ restaurant, that’s not that only cut of meat worth having here. There are also top-notch beef selections – Argentinian ribeye (200g, $58), US prime short rib (200g, $38), and Ohmi wagyu ribeye (200g, $110) –pork neck, pork jowl, king prawn, atlantic salmon, and Korean squid for charring on grill, as well as crispy pancakes, kimchi fried rice, steamed egg, ginseng chicken soup, and a variety of stews to be had. Wash down your meat like the Koreans – with plenty of hite beer, fruit-flavoured soju and organic house-brewed makgeoli infused with honey, passionfruit or yucha. This is a full-service restaurant, which means the staff handles all the BBQing for you so just sit back, relax, and feast. Oh, if you find yourself addictted to its awesome kimchi, you can bring it home at $14 for 500g.
8 E!ght Korean BBQ, #04-20/21 Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road, Singapore 228208, p. 9018 9212. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm; 5.30-10pm, Sat- Sun 11.30am-10.30pm.