Admittedly, I am not big when it comes to Korean cuisine. It’s one of the many cuisines I usually forget when asked, “Where to eat?” But don’t get me wrong: I do love Korean cuisine. And in this town, there aren’t many good Korean restaurants. There are a couple of cheap ones like Don Day, where you can experience unlimited Samgyeopsal for a fraction of the price. But coming across Kogi Bulgogi (owned by iFoods Group, the same group who manages Tokyo Cafe, Stackers Burger, Miso-Ten Ramen and Tempura, and Peri Peri Charcoal Chicken), a hip, modern Korean, half Japanese restaurant that I’ve been eyeing for the longest time, this restaurant will make me want to eat here everyday. And I’ll tell you why in this comprehensive post that can only be found here at Candid Cuisine.
A mere mention of the word “Bulgogi” and beef comes into one’s mind. Yes, it’s because “gogi” means beef. “Kogi” is another variation of the word beef. But I believe that Kogi Bulgogi is more than just “beef”-deep.
We were greeted by a very jubiliant receptionist who was very friendly and in fact, I can say that she made me feel at ease with Kogi Bulgogi’s newest branch in Greenhills. The interiors reminded me of a very modern Korea, something that’s a cross between country and steaming hot dojo. I decided to also take a peek inside their washroom. Barely a month, the insides were still squeaky clean. And you know what they say about restaurants? If the washrooms are spick and span then you can expect the kitchen is well taken cared of as well.
One thing I can say about their ambience is that the airconditioning is not balanced and spread throughout. One area of the restaurant was too cold. Another side of the restaurant was too hot and humid. But the staff was kind enough to assist us to change tables, which is good customer service.
I was curious at the “commercialization” of this restaurant. I had this sort of aversion when I was dining at Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen. I disliked restaurants that are too well-known simply because I know at some point in time it’s going to smell failure and that the success of what it is now is merely just a hype ~ if you can remember what happened to Teriyaki Boy or T.G.I.Friday’s. Perhaps, Kogi Bulgogi would make me change my mind.
As an appetizer, I was delighted to be served with Banchan. This alone made the whole difference. Keep in mind though that while Kimchi, beansprouts and sweet anchovies are regulars, their Banchans change daily depending on the availability. I like this excitement, not knowing what I will be served with. We were served with sweet plantain (Banana for a layman), steamed bittergourd, sweet potato and pickled bamboo shoots.
I love their Kimchi. It’s probably homemade.
We then ordered a simple House salad that tastes like Caesar Salad. Oops ~ you heard it right. This isn’t Korean at all. It’s too bad they have this on their menu. It’s one of those dishes that aren’t fitting and meant to serve every customer’s palate. But then again this is modern Korean cuisine.
The croutons were too sweet for my liking.
Gyoza is also available in Kogi Bulgogi. This is, by far, the smallest Gyoza I have ever seen.
I don’t think this is worth the price I would normally pay for an order of Gyoza. The taste is just the same. Again, I still don’t know what will make a Gyoza different. If an idea comes into my mind, I’ll let you know. But if you don’t know what to order, I guess Gyoza is a default.
One of the first dishes that arrived is their own version California Roll.
My God. Kogi Bulgogi’s California Roll is to die for. The plating is very creative and the quality of the rice is genuine Korean rice. The moment I took a bit on this roll, all the flavors of the crab stick just meshed well with the mango. This is one of the best California Rolls I have ever tasted.
The Ramyeon came and it was sweltering hot. You can see in my photos at how the steam sort of blinded the lens of my camera. They will ask you to choose the spicyness level from a scale of 1 to 10. Since I was with people who are less tolerant of spicy levels, I asked them to level it at 5. *sigh* It’s not that spicy enough though the others were sweaty and teary already.
And yes, there’s egg. Hallelujah.
A taste of their Ramyeon made me conclude something: This tastes eerily like Shin Ramyun instant noodles. Well, you can’t blame me. Instant Noodles are the most popular ramen in the world.
We also ordered garlic rice. Man, the serving is large and can fit for two persons actually. The garlic flavor is very strong.
Our order of Haemul Pa Jeon arrived. This one is mixed seafood pancake. You can think of it as a seafood omelette instead to visualize its taste.
Haemul Pa Jeon
Actually, I tasted more of the egg than the ingredients inside. This is a good combination to the Ramyeon to douse the spicyness.
Instead of Dolsot Bibimbap, we thought of ordering Sae-U Bibimbap for a change. Just think of it as Sizzling Gambas on the popular Bibimbap dish.
I like their Bibimbap very much. One order alone can feed 2-3 people. (Feed! Seriously!)
The paste is not that spicy. I’m complaining about the spicy level once again.
Kogi Bulgogi also has their own version of tempura which they call Sae-U Twigim. Sae-U means “Shrimp” by the way.
I am no that impressed with their Sae-U Twigim. It’s not their forte, obviously.
After my episode with Don Day‘s Unlimited Samgyeopsal, I decided to order Kogi Bulgogi’s Sam Gyup Sal Ssambap to erase my thoughts from that cheap, dirty old restaurant.
Sam Gyup Sal Ssambap
Their Sam Gyup Sal is definitely a winner. The succulent layered pork is well grilled – not too toasted or undercooked. It is served with lettuce, six small balls of Korean rice, and three sauces: Ssamjang chili paste, Gireumjang (sesame oil and salt) and Doenjang, a sweet soybean paste.
Finally, the star of my Korean feast is the Soft Shell Crab Roll. Take a minute to appreciate its work of art ~ That crunchy breadcrumbs atop each maki.
Kogi Bulgogi’s Bestseller: Soft Shell Crab Roll
A closer look on it reveals the soft shell crab embedded in every maki in the Soft Shell Crab Roll. Nearly every table in the restaurant ordered one because it’s not one dish to be missed. It’s a must must order!
One person cannot finish the entire roll. You should share this with someone else because one maki will make you very full as if you weren’t already with all the Bibimbap, Ramyeon and Sam Gyup Sal in your stomach!
The staff was kind enough to give me a small side of Kimchi to clean my palette. Thank you Kogi Bulgogi!
Overall, my experience was extremely good. In fact, it’s one of the many commercialized restaurants that haven’t forgotten what it’s like to serve your customers well, no matter how famous your restaurant is. It’s a chain that exists to value your customer with simple Banchan. To be honest, others would have you charged for the Banchan purposefully served in the beginning of the meal, but a simple gesture to “feed” your guests well shows how un-commercialized this food chain is.
Well done, Kogi Bulgogi. I will keep on coming back for you until I memorize your menu!
Check out the second part of my Kogi Bulgogi experience! It’s a pork showdown. *thumbs up*
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Kogi Bulgogi Rating:
|Taste and Originality:||(3 / 5)|
|Customer Experience:||(3 / 5)|
|Value for Money:||(3 / 5)|
|Brick and Mortar:||(3 / 5)|
|Average:||(3 / 5)|