Jase and I were looking for something different for lunch when we stumbled upon Oh Neul Han Jeom Korean Restaurant. It's sandwiched between some of my all-time favourite eateries in the Telok Ayer dining enclave. It's 2 doors down from Ocean Curry, across the street from The Market Grill, and below Truffs. The tiny 25-odd-seater restaurant was brimming with lunch-time diners so we figured it couldn't be too bad.
Having tried the food, I can't quite understand the size of the lunch-time crowd. The food was forgettably average, and the prices here (lunchtime sets go for $10-$15) aren't attractively cheap that'd warrant such a crowd.
Whilst service seemed a little harried and frazzled, the zippy servers were, nonetheless, efficient and breathlessly speedy. As with most Korean restaurants, water is self-served, so feel free to pop by the refrigerator (located in the center of the dining hall, you can miss it) to get a bottle and cups by yourself.
The standard Banchan (Korean side dishes) were plopped onto our table barely seconds after our menus were given to us.
The Kimchi was plainly unimpressive. No kick and quite forgettable.
The Omelette, though, was pretty decent. Compact, flavourful, not rubbery.
I liked the Pickled Cucumbers. It was crisp and clean and clear. Very refreshing.
The Spicy Sprouts were also pretty good. Toothsome, spicy but very refreshing.
Even if the Pickled Anchovies were run-of-the-mill, it was still nice. Salty, sweet, umami and quite addictive.
I had the Ginseng Chicken Soup ($15) but this was very lackluster. The soup had no depth or flavour or sweetness. They were too sparing on the salt, and the ginseng and red dates hadn't had time to simmer into the soup, so I could barely make out either. Worst of all, the soup was way too oily. I wanted a healthy nourishing soupy meal but got a tasteless but artery-clogging soup instead.
The Beef Bulgogi ($10) fared much better, but it was still, at best, an average dish that a fairly competent homecook could whip up. The problem with the beef here was that it was overly tenderised, and tasted artificially so. The meat was just completely pulverised.
Oh Neul Han Jeom Korean BBQ Restaurant
177 Telok Ayer Street
Tel: 6221 0401
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner