Love it or hate it, it’s undeniable that the K-wave is here to stay. From its riveting drama series to catchy pop tunes (accompanied by synchronised dance moves, of course), the popularity of South Korea’s pop culture has boomed in recent years, with millions worldwide lapping up its offerings. But the craze for all things hallyu has now extended beyond the borders of its entertainment scene. Even beauty mavens have jumped on the bandwagon by embracing hanbang (herbal) skincare and elaborate rituals such as the ‘7 skin method‘.
The world of gastronomy, too, has been swept by the K-wave. The past few years have seen a surge in Korean restaurants sprouting up around Singapore, each peddling their own renditions of fried chicken, bibimbap, barbecued meats, and hotpot meals. Some of these spots even follow the tradition of serving banchan — complimentary side dishes that may range from kimchi to beansprouts and anchovies — to ensure you won’t leave hungry.
If your idea of a good time involves wolfing down copious amounts of piquant kimchi, beef bulgogi or Korean-style fried chicken, here’s our pick of 6 of the best Korean restaurants in Singapore to visit. We highly recommend rounding off your meal with some soju or makgeolli (rice wine), just because.
(Main photo: Seorae; Featured photo: iStock)
This Korean barbecue joint specialises in Galmaegisal, the skirt meat of fully-grown pig or cow, which is lean but tender and succulent. Savour the grilled meats as they are, or try the garlic and spicy options if you’re looking for punchier flavours. Other highlights on the menu include Cheese Mandu Tteokbokki, comprising rice cakes cooked in hot sauce and presented on a hot plate with fried fish cake, egg, corn and cheese dumplings, noodles, and pineapple.
Seorae, Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, Singapore 238839, #02-01, +65 9181 2709
For a more posh affair, head over to Hyangtogol at Amara Hotel, which serves traditional Korean cuisine in a fine dining setting. Its extensive repertoire spans stews, hotpot sets, ginseng chicken soup, and barbecued meats such as beef, lamb and pork belly. There’s also a weekday lunch set menu featuring dishes like grilled marinated eel and soybean paste stew.
Hyangtogol Korean Restaurant, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Level 2 Amara Hotel, Singapore 088539, +65 6220 7160
Nothing beats fried chicken when it comes to comfort food. Indulge your cravings at Kko Kko Na Ra, where the meat is deep fried twice to achieve maximum crunchiness, and is available in various delectable marinades such as hot and spicy sauce, sweet and spicy sauce, and garlic and soy sauce. If digging into fried food seems way too sinful for you, consider the restaurant’s oven-baked chicken instead, which comes in flavours such as honey garlic and hot teriyaki.
Kko Kko Na Ra (Tanjong Pagar Outlet), 68 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088489, +65 6224 8186
For those who can’t get enough of spice, Yoogane is the place to be. It specialises in Dak Galbi, which is essentially spicy stir-fried chicken cooked in a cast-iron pan. This is presented in a medley of options, with different ingredients such as octopus, seafood and spring onions. There’s also a cheese variation, where cheese is poured into the pan so it melts into a tasty dipping sauce for the chicken and vegetables.
Yoogane, 313@somerset, 313 Orchard Road #B3-37/38, Singapore 238895, +65 6634 1840
Joo Bar may be more known for its home-brewed makgeolli, but it also features a solid repertoire of culinary offerings. Among its specialties are grilled Mangalitsa pork belly, braised beef brisket — which is simmered for four to six hours till gorgeously tender and served on a bed of mash potato — and a massive army stew of kimchi, ham, cheese, sausage, luncheon meat, baked beans and ramyeon.
Joo Bar, 5 Tan Quee Lan Street, Singapore 188094, +65 8138 1628
This homey, cosy restaurant along Tanjong Pagar Road serves a wide variety of hearty Korean fare such as bibimbap, grilled mackerel, spicy sea snails with noodles, army stew, and pork rib soup — meant to be a hangover remedy. Wash these down with the eatery’s selection of soju and Korean liquors.
Todamgol, 31 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088454, +65 6224 7077