Fresh tuna sashimi, Korean seafood pancake, ‘bibimbap,’ Korean restaurant | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

The very first Korean restaurant I can remember appreciating was one located in the Makati Avenue area. I would frequent that place despite knowing that I would leave the place smelling of smoke from the grilled dishes they cooked in front of you.

I loved it nonetheless. I still remember the pork and marinated beef, grilled beef, beef stew, a variety of cold veggies including kimchi, and some other unique dishes I never really came across in other Korean restaurants. There was cold sotanghon with chili tuna sashimi; it was not too spicy, it made my nose perspire. I’ve never forgotten that dish.

This type of cuisine has become so popular in our shores that many Korean dishes have also become a staple in Pinoy homes—bulgogi and beef stew, for example. I remember being “fast-food” neighbors with a Korean outlet in many of the malls, and they had their fair share of patrons.

Regular patron

Ever since we opened our new restaurant, Wooden Spoon, I have been frantically combing the city looking for good-quality lumpia wrapper. I’d personally drive from one grocery to another just to look for the right one. In one of these frenzied searches, I drove along Kalayaan in Quezon City and noticed several Korean establishments have sprouted like mushrooms in this area—groceries, general merchandise stores, clubs, restaurants and even DVD-rental places!

Curiosity made me give the grocery a once-over. Today, I’ve become a regular patron of this Korean establishment. It’s located on the corner of Kalayaan and Matalino Streets (street of Sulo hotel across Trellis). Because I am a curious shopper, I have discovered many Korean items, one of them their ice cream, which is a perfect remedy for this hot and humid weather. Ask the tindera which ones are the bestsellers.

After a busy lunch shift at Wooden Spoon, my partner Ding and I like to drive around the area, hoping to discover some new eatery. In one of these drives, we hit the jackpot—a huge Korean restaurant along Kalayaan. Bulgogi Garden does not look like many typical Korean dining places. The place has a high ceiling and each table has its own exhaust to suck out the smoke from the individual grills.

Since I always want to eat healthy, I ordered a dish called Hoi Deob Bab, or fresh tuna sashimi with vegetable rice. I don’t remember what Ding ordered, but we both agreed to share a Haemul Pajeon, or Korean seafood pancake. And because both of us are takaw mata, we eagerly ordered Jjinmandu, or steamed dumpling.

While waiting, I almost forgot that nearly all Korean dining places serve an array of cold veggies. I just love these. Sometimes I wonder if I should just order these instead. All of them are quite tasty here, and free.

Superb dish

The dish I ordered was one that has always intrigued me, especially when I’m in one of my healthy eating moods. It’s called bibimbap—a mixture of similarly cut fresh veggies, hot steamed rice with some sauce and fresh egg. The whole thing is mixed together and the heat of the rice cooks the egg.

The bibimbap I ordered had reddish Korean chili sauce. I mixed everything, including the spicy sauce, and the blend of textures and flavors of the veggies, and the frozen tuna chunks that got defrosted by the heat of the steamed rice underneath the mixture, just made this dish simply superb. I loved that unique taste, plus it was also very healthy.

As for the pancake, we both enjoyed it. It reminded me of a thin-crust pizza. This one, though, had gelatin-like ingredients similar to the oyster cakes of Singapore.

I didn’t do cartwheels when I tried the dumplings, though. Okay lang. There were many items on the menu that looked interesting as well. I also  bought some homemade kimchi. My family learned to eat our meals with this when my daughter Ali would have her Korean friend over. Her friend’s mother would give us kimchi that she made herself.

Another dish I want to try is japchae, or Korean sotanghon, which I love when made well. I like the thick greenish sotanghon used for the dish.

Korean restaurants have sprouted all over the country. And just like many Pinoy restaurants, not all of them serve good food. This one, however, is one of those worth trying.

Bulgogi Garden is at 125 Kalayaan Ave., Diliman Quezon City; tel. 3823915.

Tweet me @sandydaza or follow my blog at

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