I’m obsessed with Korean food. In fact, I love it so much I could eat it everyday. It’s a good thing the recent interest in Korean culture has resulted in a mushrooming of Korean restaurants and food stalls in Singapore.
Unfortunately, the range is still limited. There’s a lot more to Korean food than bulgogi and BBQ meats! And only at the Korean restaurants can you get authentic-tasting cuisine; most of the foodcourt stalls are pathetic copycats.
An exception is the food stall at Takashimaya Food Village. Run by the people of Manna Korean Restaurant (the owners are Korean natives) at Telok Ayer Street, the food here is of a higher standard, though in no way as good as that of the restaurant.
One of their bestsellers is the dolsot bibimbap. Dolsot is “stone pot”, while bibimbap is “mixed rice”. Bibimbap can be served in a normal bowl, but I prefer it in dolsot.
What happens is that they heat up the stone pot till really hot, then add rice and top with a raw egg, cooked vegetables, meat (omit for the vegetarian version), and gochujang (hot pepper paste). The hot dolsot forms a lovely rice crust, and as you mix everything up, the heat cooks the egg. Retaining its heat for ages, your rice stays piping hot till the end of the meal. Lovely!
I’m so happy I need only fork out S$8.80 here for a decent dolsot bibimbap instead of S$15.00++ for the same thing at a restaurant.
Notice something missing in the dolsot bibimbap? Yup, it’s gochujang. By the time I realized I had forgotten to add hot pepper paste, R and I had already scoffed down half the rice. No wonder it didn’t taste as shiok (local slang for “fantastic”). Both of us were too lazy to go back for it. Note to self: Next time, remember the gochujang!
The dolsot bibimbap comes with a bowl of eggdrop soup and three banchan (side dishes) of Chinese cabbage kimchi, dried anchovies, and cucumber kimchi.
I had not tried this on previous visits. Turned out to be shredded chicken with sweet potato vermicelli in broth. A very simple soup, the broth was light but flavorful. Gom tang is supposedly made by boiling beef brisket, bones, and tripe together for hours to produce a rich broth. I learnt later that Koreans usually eat this by mixing rice together with the soup.
The dak gom tang comes with a bowl of rice and side dishes. I thought it was unimpressive. Might probably yearn for this if I’m nursing a cold.
Manna also offers the stews, noodle dishes, and of course, the familiar hotplate meats and bulgogi. For the really good stuff, go to the full-service restaurant at Telok Ayer Street, where the service and quality of the food are notches higher, with corresponding prices to match.
Manna Korean Restaurant
(booth at Takashimaya Food Village)
391 Orchard Road