South Korean culture has really been a phenomenon in the Philippine local scene—it is rapidly penetrating the Philippines through its catchy songs and dance moves, relatable and funny television dramas, and most especially, food.
While many Filipinos gain interest in Korean culture, with 434,951 Pinoys traveling to South Korea in 2014 as reported by the Korea Tourism Organization, millions of Koreans come to the Philippines and stay here longer, if not for good. Because of this, businesses are sprouting here and there to accommodate the increasing Korean market.
Today, there is at least one Korean restaurant in every mall or food district in the Metro. Aside from enjoying the signature spicy meals and wide array of side dishes of Korean cuisine, Filipinos get more from eating in Korean restaurants because of their creative interior design and setup. Some establishments offer giant teddy bears as dates for customers who dine alone, while others encourage creative graffiti by patrons.
ShoppersGuide has gathered some of the best Korean food go-to’s in Manila that will definitely bring out your inner Gangnam style!
Perfect for after-class hang-out or catch-up sessions, Korean-themed cafés combine fun, comfort, and efficiency.
SHP Bibimbab Café and Restaurant
Are you stressed out from school and planning to relax with your barkada
? Or are you looking for a new place for that chill tambay
? The SHP Bibimbap Café and Restaurant
is perfect for that! They serve coffee, cakes, and pastry as well as Korean ramen, bulgogi
, and other Korean delicacies.
Photos courtesy of Patricia Consigna
You can even have their giant Teddy Bear as your date when you’re feeling a little bit lonely. It is really a café of comfort; offering you warm Korean soups and big bear hugs. The cozy yet modern ambiance of the place will make you feel at home.
Location: Ocampo St., 755, Manila, open from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM daily. You may contact them through (+63) 915 142 1506.
is the Korean term for playground. Given its name, what else can you expect to see? Nestled along Taft Avenue in Manila, Café Noriter
caters to everybody from different walks of life, from students to workers to athletes and artists. Their interior spells fun and positive energy—playful pastel furnishing, trinkets hanging from the ceiling, and cute doodles on the boards. The layout of the place also allows guests to comfortably sit on the floor and to climb mini wooden stairs, as if going up a tree house. If playing bahay-bahayan
as a grown-up sounds fun to you, this is the place to be.
On the other hand, Café Noriter is also perfect for friends that are looking for Instagram-worthy locations or for students who want to study. Despite its quirky interior, Café Noriter is still a sanctuary for people who just want to sit quietly and ponder about anything under the sun.
Their Bulgogi (Php160) is a must-try, along with some milkshake (only Php135 to Php165). Breads and pastries like the huge Honey Bread (Php140), paired with some coffee (Php140 to Php155), are perfect for an afternoon hang-out.
Location: Second Floor, Reyes Building, Estrada Street, Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila. It’s open daily from 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Walk-ins are welcome.*
FAST FOOD FUSION
If you are not ready to plunge into authentic Korean cuisine but would like to take a dip, you could try Korean restaurants that are in the fast-food borderline. Usually, these restaurants serve Korean food fused with other cuisine.
is a Korean fried chicken restaurant chain that started in 1991. It is internationally acclaimed, having branches and franchises across the United States and some parts of Asia. Korean flavored-fried chicken is the restaurant’s specialty.
The interior of KyoChon is very modern. And that gives you a hint that you can find dishes from other cuisines in the menu as well.
Location: KyoChon currently has seven branches located in different malls in Metro Manila such as SM Megamall and SM City Fairview.
AUTHENTIC KOREAN FOOD
Jang Ga Nae
Owned and managed by true-blooded Koreans, Jang Ga Nae
serves authentic Korean dishes following recipes that have been passed on from generations to generations of the owners’ family. Loyal customers say that the genuine Korean dining experience and the high quality of food and service in the restaurant are the reasons why they keep on coming back.
Photo from Bebot Onte
They offer a wide array of Korean dishes. House specialties include Japchae, MulNengMyun (cold noodles in beef soup), and Sundubu-jjige (soft tofu spicy stew).
Location: 8137 Plaza, Escriva Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City and at 237 Aguirre Ave., BF Homes, Parañaque City. Reservations are recommended. You may reach them at (+632) 633 6960.
Korea Garden Restaurant
Owned by a South Korean immigrant, Korea Garden Restaurant
gets its magic from the love that is between Kim Chung Ae (now known as Fideliza Florez) and her Filipino husband. Since 1952 when she arrived in the country, Florez has been promoting her home country through the wondrous experiences she shares with her guests through her cooking. Korea Garden is considered the first restaurant in the country that offered authentic Korean meals.
Photo Courtesy of Korea Garden Restaurant
Kujerpan (Php1,350) is spring rolls with nine kinds of filling. It is one of the most popular dishes of the restaurant. Korea Garden Restaurant’s Bibimbap (Php320.00) is also one of the best-sellers.
Location: Korea Garden Restaurant is located at 128 Jupiter St. Bel Air, Jupiter, Makati City. You may contact them at (+632) 895 5443 or (+632) 896 4361.
Did your mind wander off to Korea while reading this article? Did it leave your mouth watering and you wanting to run off to one of the restaurants above? Hold your horses! We are just getting started! ShoppersGuide gathered the best Korean Barbecue restaurants, Korean Buffets, and the best places where you can experience Korea without leaving the country! Stay put for the second installment of our little Korean feast which will give you next week.