There’s been an explosion of Korean restaurants in the Metro with their mostly quaint and home style charm but now comes Sariwon Korean Barbecue, hailed as the best Bulgogi restaurant in Seoul. Tracing its roots from Sariwon in North Korea, when Mrs. Bun-Im Koo opened the 1st restaurant serving diners her special bulgogi marinade way back in 1938. Mrs. Koo uses a special marinade, made up of 12 fruits and vegetables but devoid of sugar, for her diabetic husband. Sariwon’s main branch seats 350 people compared to the original humble 27 seater restaurant.
I got a chance to try out the place a day ahead of everyone (lucky me). The official opening date is April 20, 2012 though so all of you guys can already check it out.
My impression of the interiors is that its very very different from the typical Korean restaurants we see around. The place looks very sophisticated with design inspired by the Zelkova, a majestic and enduring tree native to Korea.
Gone are the chimney like exhausts you will immediately recognize if you’ve ever eaten in a Korean resto before, replaced with state of the art smokeless grill tables from Japan. The grills utilizes ceramic charcoal as well as vents on the sides to suck out the smoke.
After being led to our table, we were served a fragrant rice tea.
Surprised was the reaction of people that night as they began poring water on a platter with white tablets on it. I was not since I’ve already encountered this dehydrated towelette when we ate in Happy Baboy.
As with any Korean meal, banchan (appetizer) plates were served first together with a plate of crisp salad. My favorite banchan was the yellow colored ball which was a mashed sweet potato. The salad was ok but the one from Jang Ga Nae is much much better.
Let’s get on to the meat of things, Seng Galbi (P780) was the first to be laid on the flames. Sariwon uses only fresh USDA choice beef cuts, this time its beef short ribs. Sufficiently thick meat with lots of beautiful marbling that simply sizzles on the grill, you can’t wait for the it to turn brown. The meat is so tender, I dare say this is the best Korean beef barbecue I’ve eaten so far.
Up next, Dolsot Bibimbap (P380), rice topped with vegetables served in a sizzling stone pot. We had the server mix in only one half of the supplied spicy bean paste, which turned out just right for me. It’s served with a bowl of beef rib soup.
JapChae (P350). Korean vermicelli with assorted vegetables. Many places do this noodle dish very oily but Sariwon makes it light and fresh, the vegetables bright and the noodles glassy and chewy.
Dak Galbi (P350). Boneless chicken marinated overnight with secret spices. I’m very familiar with the dish having eaten it in Nami Island in Korea and countless times in Jang Ga Nae. The chicken pieces are lacking in taste and was made a bit better by a dip in the salt/pepper mixture than I encountered during our recent trip to Seoul.
For the Sariwon Bulgogi (P545), a shiny bronze dome grill was used instead. Thinly sliced beef with assorted vegetables are cooked together with broth. The dipping sauce for the beef strips is very delicious, its mix of sweet and savory flavors complementing the beef harmoniously. Once the beef is cooked, fresh sweet potato noodles (made in house daily) is added a sort of juice soaker. The noodles taste on the sweet side also.
We capped out meal off with desert a Korean Rice punch called Shikhye, a sweet drink that is said to promote circulation and prevent hangovers and usually served after a meat filled meal. There’s soft grains of rice and pine nuts floating on top. We were told that it takes almost 10 hours to make this. (Wow).
Sariwon Korean Barbecue really delivers, and I’ve yet to try the marinated barbecue dishes at that, I’ve definitely penciled in a return. The interiors are sparkling clean and I can definitely say their smokeless grillers work (I did the smell my clothes test upon exit). Their menu is sparse and more concentrated on beef bulgogi and galbi. Those looking for Sam Gyup Sal are better off eating in other Korean restos as Sariwon does not serve them.
I also checked out the Sariwon website and found the prices in Korea more than double what they charge here.
|Lovely local handmade bowls|
Sariwon Korean Barbecue7th Avenue corner 29th Street
Bonifacio High Street Central
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City Contact No.: (02) 621-3205 /(0915) 900-9272