Last Tuesday, I went to Mall of Asia to meet a friend. He wanted to eat Korean food, but I know some only along Macapagal Boulevard and not inside the mall. Still, we tried to scan the establishment until we came across Bulgogi Brothers.
As I know, Bulgogi Brothers is a Korean franchise. To date, there are only three branches in the country: Greenebelt 5 in Makati, Alabang Town Center, and Mall of Asia. There’s one to be opened in Subic, but I’m not sure when.
I was a bit curious with this international food chain so I agreed to dine there. The restaurant is located in the veranda of the second floor, facing the bay area, near the biggest Ferris wheel in the country. You may opt to dine al fresco with candle light while watching the sunset– a romantic date for sure, or have a comfortable meal inside the resto.
I wasn’t in the mood to take many photos for my blog at the time, so I’ll be grabbing some photos from the internet for this. Of course, the copyright of these will still belong to their rightful owners. Those photos with low resolution were taken using my phone camera so please bear with me. 🙂
We preferred eating inside since I don’t like eating outside in a “romantic” setting, what with many mosquitoes biting me even when we were still in Starbucks. Upon entering, tall wine stacks greeted us and I can’t help but think, “Hmm. Koreans like alcohol. Haha!”
The staff greeted us with their 환영합니다 (Welcome) and I think they already got one point for that. They ushered us to a table near their wall-mounted TV showing KPOP concerts. I was a bit disoriented at first because the songs playing inside the resto weren’t synced with the shows played in TV. LOL.
The place is nice. There was no adjustable exhaust chutes, but I guess the restaurant is well-ventilated. A hidden compartment/drawer on the left side of the table was also present to hold things like disposable chopsticks, tissue, sanitizer, etc. There were few people eating during that time we went there so I guess it made me feel more comfortable.
We were given the menu and, as usual, I was so slow in choosing what to order. Since I was with someone who knows this cuisine better than I do, I let him choose for us. 🙂
While he was still at it (deciding which dish to choose), complimentary 반찬 (side dishes) were served to us. Here are some shots taken from the net along with mine.
Consequently, their signature tea, which was also for free, was served. The tea for the day was 보리 차 (barley tea).
Since I am forever enamored to drinking tea, this did not become a problem to me. In fact, I took tea as my water. Ha ha!
Finally (Ha!), he arrived with a decision. He ordered (언양불고기) Unyang-style Bulgogi 12 pieces and one hot pot of my favorite 김치 찌개 (kimchi jjigae).
Now, here’s the not so good part. I’ve been to many Korean restaurants in the country, and most of them did not make the diners wait for long to have their meals. However, in here we had to wait for more than fifteen minutes (I guess) for our server to come out with our raw bulgogi. I was with someone who was a bit complaining that he’s already hungry and all we had were just banchan and tea!
So we tried to fill our stomachs first with the side dishes. Of course, there’s the ever-present plate of kimchi.
As I think of that day, it was funny because both of us didn’t touch the fermented food. Instead, we liked the spinach salad with a bit spicy sauce. I still don’t know what that sauce was made of, but it was really delicious. I just stopped myself from asking for a second helping – I was too shy and besides, I would look like a girl in a dress pigging out for dinner. Haha! There were also boiled sweet potatoes, quail eggs, and corns, but I didn’t touch them. Hmm.
Also included in their free side dishes were sautéed eggplants and kangkong. It was amusing because we were both using our English-Korean dictionary to describe to each other what those vegetables were. Whew! I guess I need to catch-up on my Korean vocabulary to know these simple words.
After a few cups of the hot barley tea (and occasional digs for the delectable spinach salad), the bulgogi arrived. 야후!
I exclaimed when I saw what was on the platter. Heart-shaped raw beef patties were nicely arranged along with sliced onions and sweet potatoes. At close up, they looked like internal organs or removed body parts because of the color and texture. Bwaha!
Our waiting staff started turning on the induction stove in our table. Next, he heated the pan in preparation for the grilling. Onions and sweet potatoes came next. Hmm, the smell was great I was so eager to eat! 먹자!
According to the menu, unyang style bulgogi is a famous royal cuisine. I don’t have any idea why, but I felt like my alter-ego 공주 모니카 (Princess Monica) as our food attendant was cooking dinner in front of us. Royalty!
Many have jokingly accused me of having an ADHD, and perhaps it was of this reason that I couldn’t stop myself from asking him why the patties were heart-shaped. I was surprised when he looked at me and started telling a story! Now, now, I wasn’t sure if this is true, but according to him the story goes like this:
“It was Valentine’s Day and a couple dined out in a restaurant. The guy wanted the day to be special for both of them so he specifically asked for their bulgogi to be shaped in a heart to honor the occasion. The chef followed and when the meal was served, the girl was impressed. So did the other diners. The chef thought it was a very creative way of serving bulgogi, so he started making heart-shaped patties for his restaurant.”
I am not sure if this story is true, but I think that is the reason why unyang style bulgogi is famous for Korean couples. Argh. Then why did he order this for our dinner tonight? T.T
Anyway, while we were busy watching the staff, our kimchi jjigae arrived. He filled our bowls with this hot stew and I was so excited to eat it right away (I am a kimchi jjigae fan).
However, it lost its appeal when I tasted it. I am not Korean and of course my palate is different from theirs, but I think I don’t like their version of my favorite Korean food. I was expecting it to be hot (temperature speaking) and spicy. Well, it was hot, but not that hot. (Gawd, am I making sense here?) It’s like the pot they used did not contain the heat of the stew, thereby making it a bit cold already when it was served to us. As for the spiciness, I am getting used to Korean’s fiery, hot, and spicy level so perhaps that’s the reason this dish was just so-so for me.
After all my complaints regarding the food, I found myself full even before we finished what were in our table. 배불러!
So shall I go back to Bulgogi Brothers after this experience? Definitely. There are a lot of other dishes to try to and I am looking forward to taste all of them. 🙂
See you soon!