The man behind Tony Roma’s now vouches for Korean barbecue | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

KOREAN bibimbap
KOREAN bibimbap

The high ceiling and cavernous interior of K-Pub BBQ in Bonifacio Global City might remind some of an entertainment venue, and they would be partly correct. After all, there is a podium in front, with 25 Samsung LED screens mounted above it, arranged five across and five below, and playing Korean music videos all throughout lunch and dinner service.


Owner and president George N. Pua said he came up with the concept for K-Pub after eating at a Korean restaurant in Los Angeles, California, a couple of years ago.


“My plane had just landed in LA and I was very hungry, so I asked my friend who picked me up if we could eat in a restaurant where the food was quick and tasty,” Pua recalled.


His friend brought him to K-Town (Korea Town) where there is a large number of Korean establishments.


“Initially, I wasn’t thrilled because I thought the quality of the meat might not be good since the buffet price was at roughly a thousand pesos,” Pua said.


He changed his mind once he began eating, and an idea began forming in his head: Why not do something similar in Manila?


Marinating whiz


Korean barbecue is not exactly new in Manila’s food scene, but Pua said it was only in LA where he tasted really good Korean barbecue—and this man knows his barbecue.


Pua continues to hold the franchise for Tony Roma’s in the Philippines, a restaurant known for its barbecued meats. In the ’90s, he brought in the Thai BBQ brand that did well for a

TABLES at K-Pub can seat up to six persons.

while, but “was ahead of its time.” After a few years, he had to close the two branches that he had opened.


With K-Pub, Pua already knew that he didn’t have to hire a Korean chef who would do all the cooking; what he needed was a chef who was a whiz in marinating all the different cuts of pork, beef and chicken.


“If you will notice, once you order the barbecue, you will be given several plates of meat. Some of it may be marinated while others won’t. Instead, they will be thinly shaved and formed into rolls. This makes them easier to grill,” he said.


Smokeless grills


At K-Pub, guests cook their own meat. But unlike in other Korean restaurants, you don’t emerge smelling like samgyeopsal. Pua described his quest for the smokeless grills installed at each table as serendipitous.


“I had been looking for these grills for the longest time, but I didn’t like the ones I saw. Weeks before we were scheduled to open, I received a call from a friend who was at a trade fair in Japan and had spotted the brand I wanted. I was able to place an order, and the grills were installed in time for the opening.”


View of downstairs dining area

As owner and president of K-Pub, Pua comes up with promos without having to check with or ask permission from any foreign or local partner. In fact, a few weeks before Halloween this year, he realized he had no promotion. Within the day, he came up with one where guests who arrived in costume after 10 p.m. would get the chance to dine at a discount.


“I only uploaded the details on the restaurant’s Facebook page, but by 10 p.m. on Oct. 31, a line of costumed revelers had formed in front of K-Pub,” he said.


For the entire month of December, Pua has devised a zany “Pork All You Can” promo that is available only at lunch on alternating days (M-W-F) and for parties of six. It’s bound to be a hit.


K-Pub is at 28th Street corner 5th Ave., The Fort Entertainment Complex, BGC, Taguig; tel. 8471961 or 8473098.

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