Cycle 5 – Item 40
14 (Fri) February 2014
-BGC, Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines-
with YL, K staff, including HRS
Yoree is a Korean restaurant. Part of the company Diningstory, a budding Seoul-based restaurant empire that owns 13 brands, 23 restaurants, anchored by the famous Sawol-e Boribab (4월에 보리밥) – which brought country-style cooking, symbolized by barley rice, into the heart of glitzy Gangnam and made it seem chic – now branching out overseas, including the Philippines. Located in BGC, loyal to its corporate family traditions, everything on the surface of Yoree is geared towards the ultra-modern/hip. Dark lighting, minimalist black interior design, digitally controlled table-top grills and induction pads, roughly hewn Japanese plates and old-school French crêpe pans used in the presentation of the food. The menu, featuring no more than the usual suspects, didn’t initially appear to offer anything new or particularly fancy.
Bonifacio Global City – not an actual city – is a neighborhood of Taguig City, Metro Manila. Also known as “BGC” or “Fort Bonifacio” or “The Fort,” because it’s where the Philippines Army was once headquartered. Whatever is true about Makati as an upper crust expat enclave, double it for BGC, which is constantly undergoing redevelopment to become ever bigger and ever snazzier.
Almost all WHO K staff, at least those with families, live in “Bonifacio” (as only Koreans call it).
I’ve always maintained that the threshold problem with attempting to promote Korean food in other countries is the stubborn insistence on “keeping it real.” And I’m not suggesting that the cuisine be dumbed down or bastardized beyond recognition, the way that imports to Korea are treated – ironically, Koreans love the phrase “When in Rome…,” even though Koreans eat Korean food when they’re in Rome. The preparations can still be 100% authentic without being so intense/extreme: the doenjang doesn’t have to be so stinky, the gochujang doesn’t have to be so spicy, the kimchi doesn’t have to be so fishy. Understanding what mainstream tastes across the world are capable of appreciating, then skillfully/subtly adapting the menus and recipes accordingly, while still preserving the cuisine’s essence, is how Thai and Mexican, for example, two of the most intense/extreme cuisines on the planet, have managed to be so internationally successful. Yoree, this is the way to do it.
Another farewell dinner for YL, again with K staff.
The food was awesome. We ordered the Course Dinner, a set with various items also available à la carte. From start to finish, every dish was artfully and thoughtfully presented, which usually makes me skeptical, but the food here was also artfully and thoughtfully prepared. Not “localized” per se, I’d characterize it more as “globalized” in the sense that obvious care was taken to balance out the flavors, nothing over the top, everything just sweet and salty and spicy enough to please anyone anywhere. Not only far and away the best Korean food that I’ve experienced in the Philippines thus far, I’d go back again even if this were in Korea.
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN PHILIPPINES)