Sariwon Korean Barbecue, a newly opened restaurant in Bonifacio High Street Central, proves that Koreans and Filipinos are not only similar with their love for music and cheeky telenovelas; they also share a discerning palate for good food.
Awarded “Best Korean Restaurant” by NBC Broadcasting Company in 2005 and by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2007, Sariwon had a rather humble beginning. Her husband suffering from diabetes pushed Mrs. Bun-Im Koo to create her own bulgogi sauce from a mixture of various fruits and vegetables without using a single speck of sugar. Urged by neighbours and friends, they established their first restaurant in 1938, which transformed from a small diner with 27 seats to a whopping sitting capacity of 350 at their main branch in South Korea.
Every table in Sariwon is equipped with imported ceramic smokeless grills that have exhausts on the sides that suck out smoke from grilling, so you don’t have to worry about your clothes smelling of smoke upon leaving.
After we’ve settled into our seats, we were warmly welcomed by our server, Joy, who was carrying a tray with six side dishes called Banchan. The first thing I recognized was Korea’s national dish – Kimchi.
The names of the other side dishes, I asked our server to write down because there’s no way I could spell them myself. Shigumchi is blanched spinach leaves. Moosangchae, or seasoned Korean radish, reminded me of our very own achara. Kochu Meolchi Dokkeum is roasted anchovies with green chilli. They also have seasoned Korean bean sprouts or Kongnamul. Finally, there’s Tanhobak Sarada, which is mashed sweet pumpkin and potato, perhaps the Korean version of mashed potatoes. We forgot that these were side dishes, not appetizers, so when the other food arrived, there’s barely anything left on the plates.