Cycle 5 – Item 30
4 (Tue) February 2014
(Not) Ggot Deung Sim
-Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines-
with ME, KK, JR, CR, TL
Try Every Restaurant in Robinsons Place (10) (see also TERRP)
Try Every Korean Restaurant in Ermita and Malate (1) (see also TEKREM)
Surveying all the Korean eateries, including those serving Korean-Chinese fare, located in the neighborhoods of Ermita and Malate, nearby work and home. Minimum of 1 dish per place. Currently 45 establishments. Though anticipating that most of the places will be mediocre, I look forward to exploring more of my environment.
Maru is a Korean restaurant chain. Typical little-bit-of-everything menu.
Chatting with colleagues in my division, the conversation inevitably turned to food, and then to Korean food, and then to Maru, which is their go-to place for Korean food.
In terms of authenticity, the food looked and tasted as if a foreigner, without any first-hand experience in the cuisine, without much cooking experience at all, had made the dishes from a cheap cookbook, unable to adjust/adapt the recipes as necessary, too sweet here, too salty there, odd flavors that I couldn’t identify and didn’t belong – like, while making the bulgogi, he ran out of sesame oil, so he substituted with truffle oil.
The meat was outright shameful.
For pork, we ordered samgyeopsal. But what we got wasn’t samgyeopsal; it was some cut that I didn’t recognize, with two sections of differently colored/textured flesh and a thick slab of fat running down the middle, reminding me a bit of beef ribeye. Even worse, it was frozen, and sliced too thin, and then overcooked – on the side, by someone else, and served all at once on a plate – so that the final texture was all dry and brittle.
As for the beef, I’d recommended ggot deungsim, declaring that the cut is among the most favored and prized among beef eaters in Korea. However, the server didn’t show us the meat in its uncooked form, as per local protocol, but brought it out cooked, so I can’t say whether it was in fact ribeye or had the appropriate marbling to merit the “ggot” appellation. What we got, like the pork belly, was dry and brittle, totally flavorless.
Everyone didn’t seem to mind the food, but I can’t just sit by and let them think that this is what Korean cuisine is really like. I must find a better place to take them, perhaps as far as Makati if necessary, or just cook for them at home.
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN PHILIPPINES)