Sunday, January 3, 2016

Seorae - Korean Charcoal BBQ Worthy of a Good Smoke

Inhabiting the old premises where Lao Beijing used to be at Plaza Singapura, Seorae is another entry in the unending stream of Korean food joints on our ever increasing tiny island.

Yet, this is one that is here with a smoky vengeance, with its choice cuts of pork skirt meat and its prized array of kimchi inspired rice and stew dishes.

The place itself looks like your typical modern Korean eatery. Clean, woody, and full of shiny metal exhausts to suck up the smoke and aroma.

There is also a bingsu corner to capitalise on the still hot bingsu craze, but for the most part, the BBQ is the main focus. Using charcoal is a definite plus for me, and the staff is extremely diligent to change both the charcoal and the metal grill after each and every round of grilling.

Which is something that reminds me of how efficient and hygenic it was when I was in Korea a few years back. Seorae has already made a name in Indonesia, and it's hoping to replicate its success here.

Dosirak

This tin boxed bento looking nugget is called Dosirak, and is actually shaken thoroughly by the serving staff for some theatrics before presenting to the diner for consumption. However you want to mix it up, this box has a hearty load of beef sausages, a sunny side up and anchovies to provide a collage of familiar yet tasty flavours.

Quite frankly, I enjoyed this quite a bit. It's not the typical food that I gravitate towards to, but somehow the combination works and has that classic clean yet precise level of taste that Korean is best known for. Hearty and thoroughly enjoyable, and something that I wouldn't mind going back for seconds.

Jigae Stew

The kimchi infused stew is probably one of my favourite kimchi/Korean stews so far. I like the fact that the spice quotient is just enough to provide a satisfying sharpness and fragrance without torching one's tongue.

Another hearty and comforting dish that is best reserved for the current cold climate that we are experiencing.

Galmeigisal

Galmaegisal refers to the pork skirt cut sliced thinly used here for the BBQ grilling treatment. It is so highly valued as it was once fabled to be exclusive to the royal family of Korea in ancient times.

Now, it is also currently exclusive to Seorae in Singapore and it highlights a less fat riddled protein than the usual suspects. The meat does have a superb bite and is slightly more chewy than the more fatty cuts, but yet it has a great porcine flavour that will prove inducing to pork lovers.

My only gripe is the marinate. Undoubtedly it has flavour, but it borders more on the sweet side and there is far too much of it for the grilling process. Be sure to pat dry a bit first before doing the grilling yourself and you should get a perfect caramelisation. A minute or two will suffice.

Beef Short Ribs

Besides the skirt, there is also the popular pork belly cuts you can opt for, or the bone in beef short ribs which are pretty decent too. The marinate also comes in a spicy version which may prove a bit too strong for some, or like me, you can elect just a basic seasoning which will bring out the meat flavours even better.

Bibim Naengmyeon

This unpronounceable dish is also another revelation here. I have tried zesty cold ramen to varying degrees of success, but this bibimbap and gojuchang base cold noodles dish looks like it will take the oriental cold noodle crown from everyone.

The noodles themselves (presumably imported from Korea) has a terrific bite and bounciness to it, and the tart and sweet and slightly spicy sauce just coats it beautifully. Appetising and another dish that I will gladly come back again for.

Bibim Bingsu

The bingsus here are perhaps the Achilles heel of this exciting and enjoyable joint. Served in bowls normally reserved for ginseng chicken, they prove too constricting to even see the snow ice properly.

The bibimbap inspired one may look pretty on the eyes, and that faux sunny side up can be quite catching, but the taste lets it down somewhat. The combination of fruits and toppings need a bit more work to get the culinary equation just right.

Nevertheless, the savouries and the grills are the thing to come here for, and for my money, this is by far the best Korean BBQ that I have tried so far here. It certainly has the requisite factors to make a name here, and the quality meats and impressive staple/side dishes will make this more than a worthwhile visit.

Seorae Singapore
68 Orchard Road
Plaza Singapura
#02-01
(where Lao Beijing used to be, for those old enough to remember)

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