After our trip to Sariwon, I can't help but grow a sudden fondness for Korean cuisine. Luckily, a new yet affordable Korean dining destination has opened in the Metro. Direct from South Korea, we can now enjoy the creations of celebrity Chef Choi In Sun at the newly-opened master franchise of Chef's Noodle in University Mall, Taft Avenue.
Endorsed by the famed chef alongside Ms. Grace Lee, Chef's Noodle is a fast casual dining restaurant which specializes in noodles, sushi, and rice meals. With a promise of quality and affordability, this restaurant has gained popularity in its country of origin. And with its arrival in the Philippines, it aims to create a brand famous for giving customers an appealing set of food choices, while providing them value for their money.
Just this Thursday, I went to the University Mall which is connected to the Vito Cruz LRT Station, to finally get a taste of this budget-friendly Korean resto. And since I've last been in the area about a year ago, I was surprised to see that Chef's Noodle assumed the spot of Frutti Froyo, a self-service frozen yogurt place I used to frequent. However, I'm quite liking the wide, sufficiently-lit and Wi-Fi-enabled space of the restaurant which makes it a perfect dining and hangout destination for students in Taft Avenue.
Upon checking the menu, it was the Starking Fire Sushi (P160) which caught our attention. This Chef's Noodle signature dish has five pieces of raw beef sushi which the server will cook on the spot using a blowtorch. And while this item had a really entertaining presentation, it wasn't all eye-candy as the torching method helped make the beef tender and moist. I can clearly remember how savory every piece was, and surely, a trip to Chef's Noodle wouldn't be complete without ordering this.
We also tried the Bulgogi Kimbap (P95), ten big rolls of flavorful beef, leeks and rice wrapped in nori, and topped with mayo and sesame seeds. And although I find regular kimbap already satisfying, this bulgogi version is all the more pleasurable for the palate. The beef is tender, a little sweet and very savory, perfect with rice and some soy sauce.
I've recently been into savory pancakes, so we also ordered the Seafood Pajun (P99) which is a big Korean pancake packed with shrimp and squid pieces, spring onions and bell pepper, and served in a bamboo steamer. Although this dish looked enticing, it was not what I was expecting. The pancake was a little too dry for my liking, and it seemed to be more of an omelette. However, it wasn't that bad especially with some soy sauce on.
We also had the Wanja Steak Jun (P175), a big serving of the resto's take on a beef burger steak, topped with a square cheese and a fried egg, and served in a bamboo steamer. While this is said to be a bestseller, I didn't quite dig it. The burger steak's texture is indeed soft, but the beef had some unpleasant aftertaste. Good thing the fried egg, cheese and savory sauce somehow balanced out the flavor. And I think, this can also be a nice viand to plain rice than when eaten on its own.
Since it bore the restaurant's name, we also got a bowl of Chef's Noodle (P150), a signature noodle dish in beef and anchovy broth, topped with bulgogi, fried tofu, beansprouts, leeks, spring onions, chili pepper and egg roll. Being a Korean noodle dish, I expected this bowl to be really spicy. Fortunately, it was only mildly so. The broth was instead very flavorful with flat noodles cooked into a firm yet chewy texture. The toppings were also very enjoyable especially the crunchy beansprouts and savory bulgogi.
One of my companions was brave enough to order a serving of Jjampong (P195), a spicy Korean seafood and vegetable ramen. While I was quite hesitant to try this noodle soup, I was surprised to find out that it wasn't as spicy as I thought. Alright, it's still hot especially for someone with a lower spiciness threshold. But for spicy food lovers, I think you can ask your server to even amp up the heat level. And although I honestly didn't get too much into the seafood toppings, I enjoyed slurping the noodles with the spicy broth.
Our last dish for the trip was the Chicken Kas (P130), a bowl of breaded chicken fillet with special sauce atop a serving of plain rice, which also comes with a free bowl of soup. Among the main dishes, this is no doubt my most favorite. While I generally prefer pork than chicken, the chicken fillet pieces in this rice bowl dish was very tender on the inside, yet quite crispy on the outside. The sweet and savory blend of its sauce also made the chicken dish all the more satisfying.
For drinks, I ordered the Lemon Iced Tea (P35 Regular; P55 Refillable) which is a refreshing citrus concoction perfect to wash off the strong flavors of Korean food. Although I'm not certain if they made use of brewed tea, one thing's for sure, this is not the typical Nestea iced tea served in most restaurants. My friend on the other hand, opted for the Strawberry Iced Tea (P35 Regular; P55 Refillable), another refreshing blend of iced tea, but this time, with a berry twist.
This trip has proven that Chef's Noodle is definitely a good restaurant for budget-friendly Korean dishes. Aside from a nice resto space and prompt service, their serving portions are generous especially for the affordable prices. For about a hundred bucks per food item, you can already share your order with a friend. And although there were 2 dishes that didn't make a good impression on me, there are more items which I will definitely be coming back for. Oh, and I also have to try the Japchae and Bibimbap next time!
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Chef's Noodle, University Mall
2/F University Mall, Taft Ave.,
Now that I got to try Chef's Noodle for myself, I'm giving you the chance to get a taste of affordable Korean dishes as I raffle off P1000-worth of gift cards to 1 lucky winner.
Prize: Two P500 or P1000-worth of Chef's Noodle gift cards valid for food and drinks at the University Mall branch until September 10, 2012.
To enter the giveaway raffle, you will need to do the following:
- Be a Metro Manila resident or someone (even not within Metro Manila) who can actually use the prize before its expiry, or have a person you'll give these prizes to in case you can't use them.
- Like The Purple Doll and Chef's Noodle Philippines on Facebook.
- Click THIS and post the following message on the text box:
@The Purple Doll is giving away P1000-worth of GCs from @Chef's Noodle Philippines! http://bit.ly/QzIf1T Let's win some awesome prizes @Friend 1, @Friend 2, @Friend 3Make sure that you tag The Purple Doll and Chef's Noodle Philippines pages, 3 of your friends, and have set your wall post public.
- Follow this blog thru Google Friend Connect which can be found at the sidebar under the label Followers.
- Lastly, leave a comment to this post with the following info:
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The giveaway raffle will run from today until August 31, 11:59PM. The winners will be chosen via Random Picker and will be announced on September 1. So join now and get a taste of affordable Korean fare from South Korea's own Chef's Noodle.