It's been a while since we last ate Korean food. Although I'm not particularly fond of Korean food, the Hubs is susceptible to the occasional craving for Korean cuisine, or as he calls it, "the food of his motherland". Well, he did grow up eating Korean food on a daily basis afterall. Anyways, the Hubs had been hankering for some kimchi jjigae, his favourite childhood comfort food, so we headed to the only place in Singapore that he considers authentic enough to satisfy his craving for Korean food, Hyang-To-Gol at Amara Hotel.
This time, we brought Kang along as well, because he's about the only person who shares the same love for beef with the Hubs.
We were surprised to find that the quality of the food seemed to have gone down, and the overall experience was just a little blah. The food's still above average, but we just didn't get the "oomph" feeling that we did the previous time. Maybe they do better during dinners. It didn't help that service that Saturday afternoon also seemed off, the staff were extremely lackadaisical and sluggish, and they could not have had a stonier appearance. It was like
they all just got a shelling from their boss and couldn't wait to get
off their shift. We didn't get any iced water until halfway through the
meal, and our waters didn't get filled after that, despite the fact that
the restaurant was barely occupied.
As usual, we were served a variety of banchan, starting with the Pancakes (gamja geon), of the potato and sweet potato varieties. There was something very delectable about its clear, simple taste. This was the only banchan that I asked for seconds of.
The Broccoli florets were lightly poached then served chilled with a dollop of spicy gochujang, a Korean condiment for seasoning in bibimbap.
The chilled pickled daikon slices were very refreshing. We used these to wrap the barbecued meats with some lettuce.
The Cold Kimchi Soup (mul kimchi), basically kimchi submerged in water, is a watered down taste of version kimchi.
The Hubs says that the standard of the Kimchi has gone down. It doesn't quite have that piquancy as before.
Sweet Kimchi, I much prefer this to the traditional spicy one.
The Fruit Salad (gwah II) was pretty generic and not entirely Korean in taste.
The Cucumber Salad (oi muchim) was a mildly spiced piquant and crunchy dish.
The Yam Cake had a jello-like texture and served chilled, its plain taste was a nice setup for the stronger flavours of the spicy, piquant topping.
Lettuce Salad simply seasoned with mayo
I generally like simple stir-fries like Japchae ($20), sauteed vermicelli with shredded mushrooms, carrots, spinach, black fungus and strips of lean pork. This was a bit oily and lacking in flavour though.
The Kimchi-Jjigae ($15) spicy kimchi stew with pork wasn't quite on par with the memorably fantastic one the Hubs had in Seoul, but it was above average. Rich broth with equal parts spicy and sour, this was choc-a-bloc with todu, clams and pork. We were quite surprised this was so cheap!
All the barbecues were done by the staff, and the grilling plate was turned over for a fresh one for every new meat. I suppose it's just so the flavours of the meats don't get mixed, but they might as well, because they all had the same sweetish bulgogi-tasting seasoning. The Dak-Gooi ($21) marinated chicken, was juicy and succulent.
The Doaeji-Bulgogi ($22), marinated BBQ pork, was leaner, but fortunately, moist and tender.
The Yachae-Bulgogi ($30), sweet marinated beef was enlivened with strips of carrots, oyster mushrooms, spring onions and clear vermicelli. This grilling plate was different in that it had a "moat" to catch the beef broth for sipping.
Hyang-To-Gol Korean Restaurant
165 Tanjong Pagar Road
Level 2 Amara Singapore
Tel: 6220 7160
Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm for lunches and 6pm to 2am for dinners