*Visit was in March before the tightening of dine-in measures
After my last feast at Guiga, I was in search of another Korean restaurant that sells the soy marinated crab and it happens that one of the restaurants 5 mins away sells it and is pretty decent according to my friend. I decided to make a reservation via WhatsApp for their very limited tables which are set aside for reservation customers. I made sure to book 2 weeks in advance to be guaranteed a table. Most of the diners actually walk in and wait in the queue for a table since they only keep 1 – 2 tables for reservations.
As usual, the restaurant was packed with customers waiting for a table during dinner. Those who understand Korean would know that the name of the restaurant loosely translates to Meat house and at one glance it looks like a full BBQ restaurant
The tables were very spaced out and could only house about 10 tables of 4s on the first floor. The atmosphere was kind of chaotic, smoky and noisy with the usual buzz and chatter at any Korean barbeque restaurant.
The server told me my table number after confirming my reservation and I was quite lost looking for my table as I could not see my table number anywhere. This was when a server led to the 2nd floor via the staircase located within the restaurant itself
Although the décor was in a similar fashion as the first floor, it is visibly less smoky and definitely less noisy compared to the first floor. I was quite glad to be led to the 2nd floor as the area was a lot more spacious here.
Although named a Meat house, the menu has all the usual Korean favourite dishes to offer like pancakes, bibimbap, ramen etc. As I was here for the soy-marinated crab, it was disappointing to find out that they ran out of stock for the crab and were expecting the next batch the following month. The lucky thing was that there were more than sufficient dishes to order to satisfy my need to feast
The first item served was the banchan ( side dishes) which is typical of any Korean restaurant. Over here, they served cabbage kimchi, dry preserved radish, cold tofu, salad, garlic scapes and honey sweet potato. Personally, the only 2 dishes which warrant a 2nd and 3rd helping were the garlic scapes with a clean savoury taste as well as the sweet crunchy honey sweet potato
The first item I ordered is something I always see in Kdrama and never tried so I decided to order when I saw it on the menu. This is the DIY tobiko seaweed rice which is rice served in a bowl topped with colourful tobiko roe, roasted sesame seeds and seaweed.
The way to eat this is to wear the gloves provided and give everything in the bowl a good mix and mash up so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Once everything is mixed up, you can make rice balls in any shape you like. The rice is pre-seasoned with sesame oil and soy therefore each bite gives a nice fragrance and is a great dish for kids. The entire bowl makes about 8 rice balls in the size above
My eyeballs were immediately attracted to this visual when the server served the meats we ordered for the bbq. As a lover of pork jowl, I ordered 1 portion and another portion of black pork collar both priced at SGD 25. I have never seen a pork collar steak this thick in Singapore in the restaurants I have visited so far so I was very excited to try this as it brought back memories of the fantastic bbq I had in Seoul.
The grilling of the meat is DIY so we grilled the meats carefully so as not to ruin these beautiful cuts. I have always ordered pork jowl due to the equal amounts of fats and meat in this cut of meat making it melt in the mouth if it was grilled perfectly. As usual, the pork jowl did not disappoint and the quality of the meat was good. The surprise for me was how much I fell in love with the pork collar steak. While it took longer to grill and it was much chewier to bite, it had this marvellous meat flavour released with the juices and with each chew you take the naturally sweet taste explodes in your mouth from this premium cut of meat. I was so ready to order a 2nd helping but was stopped as we had loads of dishes not served yet
Another dish I missed greatly from my Korean trips is the Jokbal which is the soy braised pig trotters. At SGD 48 per plate, I was disappointed that it did not quite match up to the one I had in Hongdae Seoul. Not that the dish is bad, it just did not satisfy my memories of the dish from Korea. Generally, the pork skin was nicely browned and seasoned but the flavours did not permeate the meat sufficiently
Another dish we see often in Kdramas is the grilled pork skin and I expected the skin to come raw and we can grill it ourselves. However, the dish came pre-grilled on a hotplate with leeks and chilli. The dish was quite a disappointment as the skin was quite rubbery and cold when we received it
Lastly, to wash it all down, we had the kimchi soup which was served in the usual hot clay pot bowl. I did not take a picture of the original bowl it was served in as we had to make space on the table for more dishes so we hurriedly portioned out the soup. I like that the soup had a decent sourish tinge from the over-ripe kimchi used and there was a nice savoury balance
Overall, the dishes at Gogijip are decent although some are better than others. If I do not compare them to those in Korea, I would say the flavours are not that bad. One thing I would definitely come back for will be the pork collar since it definitely matched what I had in Seoul. Gogijip is very popular so do make reservations if you do not want to wait in line.
Address: 72 Tg Pagar Rd, Singapore 088493
Operating hours: 11.30 am to 10.30 pm