Korean food is almost everywhere in Singapore these days. You are literally spoilt for choice. But most Singaporeans still do not know where to get authentic and good Korean food. Many are learning to go to Tanjong Pagar, which is a good start, but a better move is to go where the Koreans go. The hidden gems.
Don Dae Bak @ Kreta Ayer is a relatively new but authentic Korean BBQ restaurant that is still mainly known amongst the local Koreans. Located slightly off Tanjong Pagar but within walkable distance from Outram Park MRT Exit H, the shophouses may not be where you usually hang out but good food is always worth the little extra effort right?
Was invited down to the restaurant yesterday and brought two friends along, and we basically had a feast of Korean BBQ meat, plus seafood pancake (해물파전) plus kimchi jjigae (김치찌개) and all the banchan 반찬. Awesome company and awesome food.
Lots of food photos ahead, be forewarned!
Stepped into the restaurant and it’s like you are transported to Korea. The familiar metal tables, the servers greeting you 어서오세요, the metal utensils, the barley tea served and the latest kpop songs playing in the background… Apparently the customers can leave scribbles on the wall (we didn’t) and did you spot some familiar kpop names? 😛 Can’t wait to see the walls filled!
Don’t leave your bags lying around. Lift up the seat cover and dump all your stuff in. The restaurant has free wifi, so feel free to snap loads of photos of your meal and upload to all the social media channels lolol.
now for the meat galore. We had 3 different meats – beef (kalbi I think?), pork belly (known as samgyeopsal 삼겹살) and marinated chicken!
Time to start the meal!
Like real Korean restaurants, Don Daebak uses charcoal grill. Don’t worry about smelling like bbq, the restaurant is well-ventilated and the ventilation “hood” above each table will suck up all the smoke. You can pull it down near to the grill while cooking the meat and then move it upwards when you are eating.
Tip: Let the tteok (rice cake) grill for a while until the outside is slightly crispy. It’s damn good!!
Most Koreans do not order rice with BBQ – why waste space eating rice when you can have more meat?!
Next up is samgyeopsal (pork belly), the staple in Korean BBQ. Look at the thick cut! Not the thinly sliced pork belly, but the nice juicy thick ones.
I love the egg poured on both sides of the griddle. Wait for it to cook before trying to make egg rolls. It’s possible, but you need a pinch of luck.
One awesome thing about eating Korean food is seeing the whole table filled. There’s something very comforting about a table of food, everyone sharing all the dishes and having people ask from time to time to pass a certain dish. I love how there’s always talk and laughter and interaction when eating Korean food. ^^
yum cut into bite-sized pieces. The best way to eat it is pick up a piece, dip it in the sauce (3 to choose from), put it on a piece of lettuce, wrap it and eat it in one mouthful.
I like how the meat doesn’t feel very oily – you can just pop them in your mouth one after another.
I tend to judge Korean restaurants by the freshness of their lettuce. Look at the greens!
Last but not least (of the meat), MARINATED CHICKEN.
THIS IS DAMN FREAKING GOOD PLEASE ORDER IT
(I can’t remember what it’s called, you can go to the restaurant and show the people this photo (:)
Super tender chicken and it’s marinated damn well. It’s so delicious I didn’t even need to dip it in any sauce and all 3 of us vote this as the best.
tip: if the meat is all cooked and you don’t want it all charred, put a piece of lettuce on the grill and pile the meat on top! (the staff taught us lol)
After all the meat, it’s now time for seafood! We were totally feasting! Amazing how 3 girls can eat so much. When it comes to Korean food, my stomach is seemingly bottomless.
I like how this pancake had crispy ends and tastes slightly chewy in the middle. Nothing beats the seafood pancake I had in Gyeongju, Korea but this is still pretty good!
Anddd, last but not least the kimchi stew!!!!
the nicest I’ve tasted in Singapore.
Not the bland, watery ones you get elsewhere. This is definitely good kimchi, with loads of meat and the taste is damn authentic. Those who have been to Korea will know. And I think the one don daebak serves rivals the best I’ve tasted in Korea. The boss tells us that their kimchi is homemade – that accounts for the taste.
I’m definitely going back again just for the stew.
and let’s not forget the banchan. Side dishes are common in Korean meals and my personal favorite is the potato salad. One of the best I’ve had in Singapore, they don’t skim on the ingredients.
It was a great catch-up session, with awesome food and great background music (kpop lol). I found myself humming along to certain songs and they turned out to be all YG songs. Gillian said this is proof that I’m totally a YG stan. Subconscious lol.
We were chatting with the Korean staff too. heh haven’t talked in Korean for months and I was like stuttering at times lol. So fun to eat Korean food and practice Korean at the same time.
Don Daebak has a set lunch menu that is just SGD 10 nett!! I’m definitely going down for kimchi stew next time.
The restaurant has a ‘vip room’ too with long tables, so it’s great for a group outing! Reservations are recommended.
Next time you are craving for authentic Korean food, try Don Dae Bak. 😀
If you tried out other dishes, let me know what else is good ok xD
p.s. press the ‘call button’ on the table to call for the staff. hehe. Just do it. Heck, you must do it!!
Check out Don Dae Bak’s Facebook Page !
Address: 35 Kreta Ayer Road
How to get there: MRT Outram Park (exit H) / Chinatown (exit B)
Must eat: Kimchi Stew, BBQ (Marinated Chicken)
p.p.s. It’s 3.45am right now. Can’t believe I stayed up just to blog about food.