Cycle 5 – Item 34
8 (Sat) February 2014
by various companies
in my apartment
-Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines-
As promised to reader SKIM (see comments at 5.015 2-Piece Chickenjoy Meal), I conducted a taste test of local kimchi. The contenders were limited to the 3 brands available at Robinsons Supermarket in Robinsons Place. Although unable to verify at this point, the brands all appear to have been produced in Manila by Korean-owned companies. From the same brands, different variations were available (e.g., radish), but I stuck to the classic napa cabbage (i.e., “Chinese cabbage”).
Kimchi is also available in smaller Korean marts, presumably made in-house, small batches, packaged in unsealed/unlabeled containers, which is what I was eating in that prior post; later down the road, I may do a separate taste test of such proprietary bottlings from the half dozen Korean marts within walking distance of my apartment.
The Korean marts also sell imported kimchi from Korea.
At Robinsons Supermarket, meats are offered by different vendors, each with slightly different cuts, levels of quality.
I went with Mrs. Garcia’s primarily because the meat looked a bit fresher (i.e., less dried out) than the other vendors, also because the pork belly had the fat:flesh ratio that I prefer.
I’m a bit uneasy about the meat out in the open like this, where customers are free to dig in with their own hands.
In addition to the taste test, I wanted to make a meal out of it. After considering various pairing options, I went with samgyeopsal, which I’ve always maintained is kimchi’s ideal partner, especially with soju on hand to chaperone (see for example 4.355 Samgyeopsal + Kimchi + Soju). Kimchi works wonders with a lot of other foods, of course, like SPAM & fried eggs, but I figured that the plain samgyeopsal would allow more of the kimchi to come through (sorry, GK).
Furthermore, in light of consistently bad experiences with Korean BBQ here, I was curious to see if perhaps the problem may simply be that Philippine meat in general is unsuitable for grilling.
The contenders (from left): (A) Dae Jang Gum Corp, (B) ADE Food Products, (C) Seoul Foods Mfg. Corp.
(A): crisp and light, no depth of flavor, lacking sufficient shrimp paste and/or fish sauce.
(B): mushy and bitter, signs of either improper storage or old/bad/rotten cabbage to begin with.
(C): texturally okay but with an odd/foreign flavor component that I couldn’t place, some local ingredient that wouldn’t be used in Korea.
By virtue of being the only contender without a fatal flaw, (A) came out on top. However, I do not recommend the product in the least, though I suppose that it would be better than nothing; then again, in Manila, given the plethora of other options, why bother? (B) and (C) are to be avoided no matter what, even if nothing.
As for the meat, Philippine meat turns out to be just fine, at least Mrs Garcia’s pork belly. The restaurant’s choice of meat is the problem, at least at Maru.
(See also BOOZE)
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN PHILIPPINES)