When I’m craving good Korean food, only one place comes to mind and it’s always Korea Garden. I’ve been there so many times through the years and it’s weird just thinking that I never got around to writing about it til now. It’s been around as long as I remember and they just have one big branch in Jupiter St, Makati.
Just last week I was there twice; on Sunday for dinner with my family and again with Isa and Carina for a big free lunch thanks to Isa’s mom. If my memory serves me right, Isa’s grandma moved to Manila in the midst of war for love. She is also Korean and an amazing cook which explains why Korea Garden exists and why it’s been around for so long.
On to the food! Since I ate there twice in a week, I’d like to include the dishes I had for both occasions. When I was with my family, we ordered the staples, things we usually order when we’re there. But at lunch with Isa and Carina, Isa’s mom ordered more interesting dishes for us, things that probably don’t come to mind first-hand when you think of Korean food; a bulk of them I actually encountered for the first time.
Always the main event. The Korean Beef Stew (Php 370) here is unrivaled and I don’t think I’ve tasted anything better than theirs. Time and time again my mom has tried recreating the dish at home, it’s always good but it’s just not the same. Korea Garden’s beef stew just tastes like it’s been boiled for hours with meat so tender, it just falls off the bone. The broth is bold and boasts a spicy after taste. It’s also best appreciated with a steaming cup of white rice.
Another staple for us is the Chicken Kui/Spicy Chicken (Php 330) which we all attacked before I could sneak a photo in. It’s marinated in this sort of chili paste before getting grilled. It’s simple but it’s the kind of taste you look for every once in a while. They use chicken thigh fillets for this which is a plus because I love dark meat.
I’ve always preferred Kalbi Cui (Php 430) to bulgogi just because I think short ribs just taste better. It’s kind of sweet, marinated with a soy sauce base and grilled. It’s tender and something I have to order every time I’m there.
Chapchae (Php 310) is Korea’s version of pancit. Safe to order for the kids considering how subtle the tastes in this dish hour. It’s made with sweet potato noodles which are bouncy and have a slippier texture, mixed in with some veggies and beef.
Next up, we have dishes from the time I went with Isa and Carina. Not mainstream like the first batch, most of the food I tried with them that day, I just tried for the first time. I enjoy getting exposed to new food especially when I find that they’re really good.
Here’s something I ended up loving but wouldn’t have had the guts to order myself. Yuk Hue is basically Korean steak tartare. I hadn’t ever tried steak tartare, never thought of it or had the chance to order it but hey, this was surprisingly really, really good. You mix it all together well before having a bite. The ground beef is already perfectly seasoned with salt, pepper, sesame oil and leeks before you mash in the jicamas and egg yolk. It was refreshing because of how cold the meat was but boasted such genuine flavors. Something I’ll most likely order the next time I’m there.
We were served an assortment of pancake dishes as well. Admittedly, I’m not really a pancake person but I gave these guys a shot. Above is a photo of the Pajeon which had seafood and a lot of green onions.
We also tried the Bintaetok, a mung bean pancake. I really couldn’t tell the difference between either but they were both alright. Again, not a pancake person!
This gorgeous spread is called Gujeolpan and it reminded me so much of peking duck for the sheer fact of needing to enclose meat and veggies in a wrap. Once a dish for Korean nobles (I tell ya, it’s presentation), how you eat this is basically cram everything or whatever you want in a wrap and dip it in a sweet soy sauce before biting. Patient people or people who like sandwiches and wraps will enjoy this.
We also had this Samgyupsal with Beef Tenderloin which was just alright. I find that the Pork Belly version is much tastier and easier to eat cause the pork’s easier to bite off. For those who have never eaten this and want to, I’ll save you from the awkwardness of not knowing how to properly eat this. First, take a lettuce leaf, put a piece of meat in it along with some raw garlic, then slather on the ssamjang and take a bite.
Look at this! It’s got tuna sashimi. I learned that this cold noodle dish is called Hwe Naeng Myeun made with a really spicy thick, chili sauce, vermicelli noodles, tuna sashimi and veggies. I felt so refreshed eating this but it’s the kind of spicy not everybody can handle.
Carina loves spicy food as much as I do but this, she couldn’t eat. I enjoyed this a lot, it had different textures and was tons spicy I couldn’t eat it without sipping water after a couple of bites. Really good though.
Dates for the day!
Wow, that was a lot of food. Bottom line is, Korea Garden’s where I go when I need a good Korean fix. Been eating here for years and the food’s always consistent and I know this because I only always order the same things. For those of you who haven’t ever eaten here, where do you go to get good Korean food? I’m curious.
128 Jupiter St.
M, T, W, Th, F, Sa, Su: 11:30AM – 2:30PM
M, T, W, Th, F, Sa, Su: 5:00PM – 10:00PM