What the Koreans call gogigui — literally “meat roast” — is perfect for the long, conversation-filled meals Filipinos love to have. Unli-KBBQ restaurants are all over the metro, with prices rarely seen anywhere else (from P350 to around P1,500). If the lines snaking out at mealtimes are any indication, Korean barbecue is more than a trend — it’s becoming a fixture in food- and fun-loving Manila in the Philippines.
Making sure the grill is adequately hot, lay down the meat and don’t touch anything until you see little beads of moisture on the raw side. Only then do you flip it over; this way, you keep the flavor and optimal texture of the meat.
Do the ssam
See that pile of greens on your table? Dip the meat in some sauce, place it in the middle of a leaf and add a sliver of garlic, chili and some kimchi (and rice, to make it a ssambap). Roll, seal, eat and repeat.
Grill the kimchi
The crunchy, tangy pickled cabbage is brought to another plane of deliciousness when grilled, particularly right after a rich cut like samgyeopsal (pork belly).
End with noodles
Cap off the meal with chilled noodles to cleanse the palate — mul naengmyeon if you want clear, piquant chilled beef broth or bibim naengmyeon if you’re looking for sweet flavors with a little kick of heat and sourness. Any leftover barbecued meat goes here.
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What’s on the table
- Meat is either pork belly or beef brisket, plain or marinated.
- Banchan, a selection of small side dishes, may include kimchi, potatoes, crisped dried fish, rolled omelets and a salad.
- Ssam means “wrapped”, and refers to using greens (usually lettuce and sesame leaves) to wrap barbecued meat.
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Where the lines are
- Samgyupsalamat: Good quality banchan and nine signature meat offerings to be grilled over charcoal, with an option to dip in cheese, explain the consistently long queue. samgyupsalamat.com
- Romantic Baboy: Here, you get to choose from eight kinds of meat and get six kinds of banchan. Romantic Baboy also employs a charcoal grill for your barbecuing pleasure. The grilling plate has three partitions — a main grill for meat, one for omelets and another for cheese (pro tip: add garlic and green chili slices to the cheese for extra zip). fb.com/romanticbaboy
- Premier The Samgyupsal: Another rapidly growing chain, Premier The Samgyupsal offers good-quality meat and 13 side dishes, plus the option for their attentive staff to do the grilling for you. fb.com/premierthesamgyupsal
This article first appeared in the May 2019 issue of Smile magazine.