Psy-go to Bibigo

If all roads lead to Rome, then all Korean restaurants must lead to Psy. Or perhaps it’s a case of Korean restaurants thinking that they need to work with Psy to promote their food. Better marketing and communication, I believe, is the key to marketing Korean food and I think this restaurant may have succeeded in these important aspects and no, they do not need Psy. A friend introduced me to this restaurant. She brought her own parents and introduced it to another friend who in turn brought her friends and all this is being spread by word of mouth.

As I was saying, this Korean restaurant did what few Korean restaurants have done. They had proper menus with clear pictures and descriptions, good service staff and great food. For a while now, most, if not all the Korean restaurants I have been to did not adequately explain their food. This is probably one reason why Korean food is not as well understood as say, Japanese food. Many Korean restaurants also tend to be family-run and their staff may not speak good English. This restaurant is run by a company that markets Korean food. The restaurant had Filipino waitresses who spoke good English and provided good service. Lastly, the food was clearly explained in their menus. For the first time I realised that bibim in Korean meant a mixture or to be mixed with. Hence anything with the word bibim in it would have a combination of things. Bibimbap for example, is a mixture of rice with lots of vegetables, from raw to pickled to cooked. There is also a choice of meat. Vegetables, carbohydrate and protein are mixed in a balanced way.

We ordered bibigo which was similar to bibimbap except that we could choose the kind of rice we wanted as well and the dressing we wanted with it. I picked black rice which was like glutinous rice and sesame oil dressing. We also ordered seafood pancake and mandoo or fried dumplings. The bibigo was rather refreshing with a light touch of sesame dressing. I simply love rice with vegetables though I found the glutinous rice a little heavy. The pancake was nice and crunchy and not overly oily. The same was true of the mandoo. All three dishes were well presented. The pancake came on a hot plate which kept the food warm and crunchy.

Bibigo has three outlets in Singapore now. Please don’t expand too quickly and remember to maintain the quality of your food. This restaurant is like a breath of fresh air as Korean food is still not very popular yet and there is a steady growing demand for it. Oh, and did I say, this is a great place to look at handsome Korean guys? You definitely do not need Psy!

Bibigo, 23 serangoon Central, #03-08 NEX shopping mall, Singapore 556083. Tel: 65-6509-8272.

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Bibigo with black rice and sesame oil dressing on the side.

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Closer picture of the different food on the plate.

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Mandoo or fried Korean dumplings

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Seafood pancake which was kept warm on the hot plate.

Gangnam food

I am not a fan of the Gangnam dance. I think it has certain overtones that are condescending to a certain group of people. If I thought the Gangnam dance was bad, Gentleman is worse, a LOT worse. It is totally derogatory. I regretted clicking on the youtube link and contributing that one click to the video. I am sure that many people watched it because they were curious and because Gangnam had garnered a lot of publicity. But their clicks contributed to views and gave a false impression (I hope anyway) that many liked the new Gentleman dance.

Because of how I felt about Gangnam, I did not want to eat at this restaurant. I wondered if the owner of the restaurant was riding on the publicity of the Gangnam dance. But my friend wanted to treat me to a birthday dinner here and she said to look at Gangnam as a district in Korea instead of the dance. Right! Never mind that there are caricatures of people dancing the Gangnam dance on a long strip of paper on the wall of the restaurant. The drawings were actually quite cute and were not rude or disrespectful, so in we went.

This place serves reasonably-priced Korean food. We were able to order the lunch set during dinner as we were not hungry enough for the dinner buffet. This was the first time I had cold arrowroot Korean noodles. My set came with a meat dish as well and I ordered bulgogi beef. My friend ordered the hot plate rice and both were good. They also serve Korean BBQ food but we left before too many customers started smoking up the place with their BBQ. I prefer my clothes and hair not to smell like BBQ unless I was prepared for it. There seemed to be sufficient new (this place was recently renovated) archaic- and unique-looking ventilators to take care of the smoke but they were not switched on. A good place to come to for affordable Korean food. This restaurant has also reviewed fairly well elsewhere.

Gangnam Garden Korean BBQ Restaurant, 180 Kitchener Road, City Square Mall, #02-21/22, Singapore 208539. Tel: 6509 9644.

Dolsot bibimbab – mixed vegetables and egg on a sizzling hot stone pot with rice and chilli paste

Spicy mixed arrowroot noodles

Beef bulgogi – fried beef

Kimchi pancake and daikon salad

This wouldn’t be the place to go to for a salad meal but that was what we ended up doing. We ordered ginseng chicken since we were in a Korean restaurant and what better place to have ginseng chicken than here. This place also served Japanese food and since I like daikon salad, I ordered that. Then we decided to also order the side dishes that Korean restaurants are well known for and the dishes were refillable. In fact the waitress checked with us again if we had indeed wanted the daikon salad as well and since none of the side dishes had daikon in it, we stuck to our decision. We also ordered pork and kimchi pancake. The outlet also served Japanese food like sashimi as well. But we stuck to Korean food.

All the dishes were good and we were happy that we were not overly full from too much meat. But from hindsight, we would probably order beef that we could eat with lettuce, the pork and kimchi pancake and the side dishes the next time. We wouldn’t order the chicken ginseng again not because it wasn’t good but because we were not fond of it enough to order it again on a next visit.

Hansang Korean Charcoal Barbecue, 20 Lorong Mambong,

Holland Village.

 Tel: 66816632.

Daikon salad

Korean ginseng chicken

Pork and kimchi pancake

A beautiful array of starters that the Koreans are very well known for

Kimchi, pickled cucumber and apple fruit salad. What a combo!

Our meal for two!

Down Under: Wow indeed!

After all the western food, we decided to try Korean food instead.

We ordered pork belly and beef bulgogi, seafood pancake and rice. There were enough condiments to go around in the beginning and they were good. The test of any Korean restaurant, I have always felt, is in their kimchi. And yes, that was good too. The pork belly was eaten with onion and garlic and wrapped with lettuce. I found the raw onion very strong but I guess it is meant to be eaten in that manner, along with the pork. The staff were attentive and eager to please.

The smoke from the hot plate set off the fire alarm at the restaurant and for a few minutes, they could not stop it from ringing until they changed the hot plate.

This place is certainly worth coming back to again.

Wow Bulgogi, 174 Anzac Pde, Kensington, NSW 2033. Tel: (02) 9697 9282.

Seafood pancake and condiments

Seafood pancake

Pork belly bulgogi, eaten with raw onion and garlic. it is wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped in a sauce.