The Korean BBQ experience in Singapore is for me one that calls for plenty of sizzling meats fresh off the pan right at the dining table. Be it beef, pork or chicken, each portion when wrapped with a slice of lettuce and topped with kimchi, sliced garlic and a dash of onion sauce is a heavenly delight. And that experience is now recreated once again at Kkongdon Barbecue. Except that this time round, the whole journey is revitalized with a fuss free cooking experience and a free flow kimchi bar to boot!
Kkongdong Barbecue restaurant at Marina Square (Marina Link Mall) is the latest concept introduced by JP Pepperdine, from the ubiquitous family friendly steakhouse Jack’s Place. With over 60 outlets in Korea, this is Kkongdong Barbecue’s first foray into Singapore. The most noticeable element of the restaurant is the individual overhead retractable exhaust pipes. Aimed directly at the hot plate below, this ensures that any strong cooking aromatics is quickly removed and not remain as a lingering perfume on the diner’s clothes after each meal. Innovative!
The next best part about the restaurant is a free flow kimchi baris available for guests with any order from the menu. If you want to just indulge in kimchi and salads, the bar is available at $5.00++. Might as well get a set menu, and enjoy the kimchi at the same time.
5 different varieties of kimchi are offered on the menu, although only 3 are served daily on a rotating basis. There is the Red Kimchi, White Kimchi, Cucumber Kimchi, Garlic Soya Sauce Kimchi and the White Radish Kimchi. I love kimchi, so this probably sealed the deal for me at the start.
Start off with the Tong Samgyeopsal Pork Belly ($16.00). Fresh pork belly in their pink glory waiting to be grilled.
Be an expert or ask the staff to show you how it’s done and take over from there. Produce wonderful golden brown pieces. I found the meat to be naturally fresh with a crisp meaty flavour. I enjoyed it with sauce/without sauce/with veggie/without kimchi. But one thing I learnt, don’t leave the meats on the pan for too long as they will start to toughen up and can be a self created pebble waiting to be savoured.
If beef is right up your alley, there is the Anchangsal Beef Skirt ($16.00). Freshness of the meat is guaranteed as the restaurant imports their beef together with those served at Jack’s Place restaurants. From the New Zealand Silver Fern Farms, these pieces of marinated meat are best enjoyed once lightly sizzled on both sides. Learn to be a steak master when you can tell the meat is your preferred doneness, or just go with medium at about a minute slightly over to play it safe. I enjoyed this the most with lettuce, garlic and sesame oil with salt.
Left : Onion Sauce. Right : Ssam Jang Sauce (bottom left clockwise), Oriental Dressing, Soya Sauce, Sesame oil with salt
This is my first Bibimbap that is spicy enough to leave me craving for ice cold water. The portion seen here comes as part of the set in substitution to a serving of rice. If you want a full meal of Bibimbap, the restaurant has it at $10.50 and the hot stone variant comes at $12. I’m not too sure what to make out of this dish but it was an enjoyable portion of sweet and spicy rice, different from the bibimbap I use to have.
For a stew to enjoy a cold rainy day, partake in the Kimchijjim Pork Kimchi Stew ($7 small portion). Robustly spiced with flavours of Kimchi and hot chilli pepper, this stew is a good blend between fatty pork belly and clear slices of beancurd to soak up the flavour. Take a little sip, allow the rounded spice to envelop the tongue and then savour the savoury impact tinged with elements of sourness.
A must try, and a must have for me when I do return is the Gaeranjjim Steamed Egg ($6). Specially made before serve, this is steamed egg that begs to be enjoyed. Savoury, a little sweet from the stock, and a smoky scent that permeates throughout. This portion of steamed egg goes exceptionally well with steamed rice and is an excellent complement to the heaviness of meat. Apparently it is also one of the most popular items on the menu. I can see why.
As Singapore’s weather can get quite exorbitantly hot these days, I have to recommend going for a portion of Mul-Naengmyeon Cold Noodles in Iced Broth ($9.50). The long stringy buckwheat noodles is exceptionally chewy, and must be enjoyed slowly. The broth, slight savoury and served iced cold, is best savoured with mustard sauce and vinegar. An excellent portion and definitely my next favourite on the menu. A very filling meal on its own, or best shared amongst friends as a nice way to end with perhaps, a savoury cold dessert.
In all, I left the restaurant with a thumbs up because of the concept and unique dining experience offered through the retractable smoke exhaust, and the free flow kimchi bar. The quality of food was pretty good with notable favourites going from the cold noodles and steamed egg. The barbecue meat is a little on middle ground as it depends on how well you cook the meat to really enjoy the meal. Then again, some do take pleasure in deciding what meats to enjoy, and cooked in what fashion. Just that for me, I didn’t really go for the crispy pork belly which was almost too hard to chew by the time I was done talking at the dinner table. Still, an enjoyable experience throughout and definitely a place to return with friends for that class gathering that is probably going to happen real soon.
Thank you JP Pepperdine for the invitation
Marina Square (Marina Link)
6 Raffles Boulevard
Tel : 6336 2580
Website : http://www.jppepperdine.com/kkongdon/
Nearest MRT Station : Esplanade MRT Station