THE QUIET DINER

Impulse must not overwhelm when eating at Sambo Kojin

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Try and ask an attendant of a newly opened restaurant about its management and ownership, and in all likelihood the answer would be familiar: It belongs to a popular chain, which has spun off to serve food that differs from its original offering or expertise. Two such outlets are succeeding in their new identities, gaining loyal foodies on their own merits.

Bulgogi Brothers (Extension Wing, Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa; call 0917-8084114)—The name, of course, refers to the age-old Korean technique of cooking, actually barbecue, where the meat is cooked on fire.

Dining area: This diner got attracted to this place because we noted a lot of Koreans flocking to it, a testimony that it offers authentic dishes. The place is designed in subdued colors, the tables have benches plus a TV monitor on one wall, showing what we presumed as a popular soap opera. An almost shy young lady gives the menu card and gets the orders for drinks—either Citrus Mint or Raspberry Tea. We wait as she does the table setting.

Service: Quiet, unobtrusive, but efficient.

Staff: Neat, responsive

Suggested orders: Start with a refreshing tall glass of either Mint or Raspberry Tea. Immediately a plate of starters is provided. This is not the usual small dish, because it contains hard-boiled quail eggs, boiled sweet potatoes, a piece of boiled corn, pickled vegetables and, of course, kimchi, the spicy cabbage, a regular on any Korean meal table. Quiet filling, but they whet the appetite for more.

Order the Bulgogi—either beef, chicken or pork, perfectly marinated, enhancing their natural juices. Do not skip the Bibimbap, the rice is done perfectly moist, topped with a variety of meats of your choice, plus vegetables.

For big meat eaters, get two orders of Boneless Short Ribs or a combination of Premium Rib-Eye and Short Ribs. That should be filling enough. The sauce or their marinade is what makes Korean food very tasty. Plus they use premium cuts, so tenderness is guaranteed.

Take some tea during the meal and, when done, top it with any of the frozen ice cream offered. There will be no need for coffee.

Service and government taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating: 3 spoons

Sambo Kojin (New Extension East Wing, SM South Mall, Zapote Road, Las Piñas)—Yet another spin-off doing very well, judging from the seemingly unending flow of diners, twosomes, families, groups.

Dining area: Massive, accommodating at least 200 at any given time. At the center is a winding counter of some 100 dishes, with choices of either Japanese, Korean, Filipino or Chinese.

The original idea of its mother company about “no-leftover dining” is adapted here and people accede to it. One hardly sees a plate with tiny bits of uneaten food.

Service: Fast, accommodating. The waiters can be requested to get and serve some food preferences.

Staff: As noted, they are accommodating and responsive.

Suggested orders: Impulse must not overwhelm—go around the buffet before getting anything, to allow you to choose your desired dishes.

The Sushi and Sashimi bar has a huge offering, the grilling meats and seafood are tempting, and the Tempura and Chap Chae will always beckon to the hungry individual. There are more choices, but one must pace oneself to enjoy all that food. The desserts are luscious and must not be missed.

Usual charges are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating: 3 spoons

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