Most of the Korean restaurants here in Manila are usually set up by Koreans who decided to stay in the country permanently. However, it is seldom that a Korean restaurant chain is brought here, unless it is a cafe for sale. Sariwon Korean Barbeque, I believe, is the first Korean restaurant has just recently opened its first branch in Metro Manila. It is at the heart of the posh dining district near the Bonifacio High Street. Thus, I guess you can already gauge how much this would cost if you dine here :D. Well, Sariwon is considered fine dining in Korea.
When I read the menu, I already knew that this is a direct competitor of a local restaurant called Bulgogi Brothers in Greenbelt 5. I’ve already dined at Bulgogi Brothers and compared to the 2 of them, I like Sariwon more.
I just dined at Sariwon last Saturday (for the second time) just to know if the quality of the food is the same. Our first dining experience at Sariwon was when we were invited for its launch. Appetizers such as Kimchi, Moosangshae (seasoned raddish Kimchi), Kochu Meolch bok keum (roasted anchovy with green chili), Kongnamul (Seasoned Korean bean sprouts), Tanhobak Sarada (Mashed sweet pumpkin and potatoes), Shigumchi (blanched spinach leaves), Kaeinyachae (house salad), Sangchoo (Sesame leaves and lettuce with garlic and chili paste) are served only after you order grilled meat. I noticed the difference because we only ordered a Haemul Pajeon (Korean Seafood Pancake) first while we were still waiting for our friend and no appetizer came. The moment we ordered the prime grilled meats, the appetizers came in. So during the event, of course, the appetizers were already served because it was an event.
No need to worry, the appetizers are unlimited.
My favorite would be the Seng Galbi, unmarinated USDA choice beef short ribs. When the server brought out the raw meat, I couldn’t help but be amazed on how fresh the meat is. Look how red it is!
Once the meat is grilled to perfection, dip the meat to the soybean paste then lay it flat on a lettuce. To make it more interesting, add pieces of Kimchi.
I thought that the Seng Galbi will be the only grilled meat we will be sampling. Suddenly, the raw meat for the Sariwon Bulgogi arrived at our table. The meat is cut into thin strips then grilled with beef broth, leeks and sweet potato noodles (freshly made from the kitchen). I would say that this is ok. The Seng Galbi is really my favorite. I find the beef broth a bit salty. The sweet potato noodles tend to absorb a lot of broth and when not eaten at once, the noodles become fat and soggy.
Aside from grilled meat, they served us different Korean dishes such as Doenjang Chigae (spicy soup made of soybean paste with tofu and vegetables), Japchae (Korean noodles), Dolsot Bibimbap and Dak Galbi (chicken). The Doenjang Chigae was really good. The vegetables were not overcooked and they used a lot Zucchini so it doesn’t taste cheap. Japchae, Bibimbap and Dak Galbi were so-so.
With just me and Karla in our table, we were struggling to finish this feast.
The surprise was actually what we had for dessert. The server gave us cups of liquid with rice on it called Sikhye. Well, I never had something like this for dessert so I asked our server what it was. Sikhye is made of sweetened barley malt juice with rice. This dessert will help you cleanse your palate after a sumptuous meal. It is also known to aide digestion. Fun fact! 😀
For our finale and for the sake of sampling their menu, we ordered their Sangria Soju. When I used to drink (a lot), I enjoyed drinking Soju. Too bad Karla and I can’t drink anymore BUT, this was an exemption. Bad. Bad. Anyway, it was one time big time thing. 😀 The Sangria Soju is made of Soju combined with Red Wine, slices of apples and oranges. It tastes bitter at first but as you sip along the way, the sweetness of the apples and oranges become evident. Great cocktail!
Overall, Sariwon is ok but I prefer this than Bulgogi Brothers. I wouldn’t say that everything we sampled are really good. There are some that I didn’t really like such as the Dak Galbi and the Japchae. If you are into high quality Bulgogi and other kinds of grilled meat, Sariwon is the place to go. For other Korean dishes, you can find them in your favorite neighborhood Korean restaurants. There are lots of them around each city nowadays :).
Sariwon Korean Barbecue
Bonifacio High Street Central
7th cor. 29th Street., Taguig City