For the past year, Korean cuisine has been steadily growing on me. And while the beau has yet to gain a fondness for Korean fare, he has an undying love for meat, so it was win-win for us when we headed out to Ba-Be-Q Korean Charcoal Grill in A.Venue Mall.
Located on the ground floor of A.Venue Mall in Makati Avenue, Ba-Be-Q is a three-month old Korean charcoal grill restaurant which specializes in Korean barbecues and holds a quirky name. (Read on until the end to learn a secret! *wink*) From the outside, it may not look too different from other Korean grill houses. However, once you step foot inside the restaurant, you'll instantly get transported to a whole new different environment.
Unlike most Korean grill restaurants, Ba-Be-Q's concept revolves around giving diners an experience of street-style Korean barbecue. The whole place is quite dim, with graffiti drawings on the wall and dangling barbecue exhaust nozzles that give off an industrial feel. Both the beau and I literally felt like we were dining in some back alley in Korea.
The selection at Ba-Be-Q is mostly made up of Korean grilling favorites, as well as some Filipino-style barbecues to cater to both Koreans and Filipino guests. And since I'm also a member of PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) like the beau, you can just imagine how excited we were to get served. But to kick off our meaty dinner, we were first given complimentary side dishes, as well as different sauces -- gireumjang (salt & pepper in sesame oil), ssamjang (seasoned soybean-chili paste) and chili-soy sauce.
|Baek Kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage)|
|Pajori (spicy scallion salad)|
|Doenjang Guk (soybean paste soup)|
|Lettuce, Perilla leaves and green chili pepper|
These items are called banchan, side dishes which go perfectly with Korean barbecue. However, Ba-Be-Q's kimchi was especially good even when eaten on its own. It's actually one of the best I've ever had. The pajori also successfully whetted my palate.
The first grilling item we had was the Korean Sweet Beef Ribs (P480). Whenever I'm in Korean barbecue houses, I'm always looking forward to sogalbi, and Ba-Be-Q's didn't disappoint. The beef ribs were marinated in a sweet and savory sauce that made this item really flavorful and enjoyable. The meat was also very tender and very succulent.
Next on the table was the Lean Pork (P290). Unlike the previous item which was marinated, this one had more natural flavors. And being a less fatty cut, it didn't taste more of pork but that of beef. However, it was still very tender and oozing with juices after every bite. And when wrapped in lettuce with ssamjang and pajori, it gets even better.
To shake things up a little, we had the Boneless Chicken Barbecue (P250) from the Filipino Grill Favorites on the menu. We were told that this is one of the bestselling items at the restaurant. And as expected from a Filipino-style barbecue, the chicken was sweet and savory, tender and moist. While this is honestly a good dish, I didn't feel like it goes really well with the Korean side dishes. Personally, I'd eat this with rice. Haha!
We then had my most-awaited item of the night, the Pork Belly (P250) also known as samgyeopsal. It was the first time I got to take the beau to a Korean grill restaurant and have him try this, and I'm glad he loved it! These three-layered fat and meat of goodness already looked magnificent on the plate, raw. However, after grilling, they become divine despite being sinful. I loved eating samgyeopsal with just gireumjang, but wrapping it in perilla with kimchi and some pajori before finally dipping in gireumjang is also really good.
I'm already happy with samgyeopsal, but this serving of Pork Jowl (P250) really puts up a tough competition. Also called the jowl bacon, these slices are cuts from the cheeks of a pig. When grilled, these become one of the tastiest and most sinful cuts I've ever had. Unlike samgyeopsal, these aren't as meaty. They're actually chewy similar to tendons and produce a taste that strongly reminds me of chicharon (pork rind cracklings).
And speaking of chicharon, we got to try some Pork Intestines or gopchang which is an off-menu item similar to our very own chicharong bulaklak (intestine cracklings), except that this is grilled. I think Ba-Be-Q has a lot more cuts of meat (and maybe even innards) which aren't on the menu, so you can inquire when ordering. Going back, I personally liked wrapping these in perilla leaves with ssamjang. However, the beau definitely helped himself to a plateful of these sinful treats and ate them even without any condiments.
Aside from meats for grilling, Ba-Be-Q also offers Kimchi Jjigae (P200) which is a spicy stew made with kimchi, pork, green onions and bean curd. I don't normally order this stew when I'm in Korean restaurants, but it's definitely growing on me. The sweet, spicy and tangy flavors are very comforting and perfect for those long, chilly nights.
We also had the Cold Buckwheat Noodle with Red Pepper Paste (P220) and its tamer counterpart, just the Cold Buckwheat Noodle (P220). These noodles are called the memil naengmyeon and are served with an icy, tangy broth, an egg, and slices of cucumber, pear and radish. I personally prefer the spicier version as it had a gochujang (red chili paste) dressing that makes every mouthful enticing. The non-spicy version on the other hand, was highly refreshing and would be perfect for the hot days of summer.
Of course, being in a street-style Korean barbecue house, one shouldn't forget to pair everything with Soju (P200). It somehow seems tasteless at first sip, but really kicks in later and is comparable to vodka. Even if you don't feel it right away, the alcohol can get you tipsy enough to say ba-be-q instead of barbecue. And although I only had about two to three shots that night, I was really fascinated by what the owner shared with us. He said, one shouldn't pour soju for himself. And when receiving the drink, you should hold the glass with both hands if you're younger or lower in rank. Otherwise, one hand will do.
Good news! Korean BBQ lovers can now indulge without breaking the bank with this limited time offer from Ba-Be-Q Korean Charcoal Grill. As of the moment, There's no deadline for this promo, so if you're in the area and are up for a samgyupsal feast with free kimchi, salad, rice and soup with condiments, then don't waste this chance.
After our visit to Ba-Be-Q Korean Charcoal Grill, I can truly say that this is a great place for meat lovers who would want to eat, drink and be merry with family or friends without burning a hole in their pockets. Everything we had for our trip was of great quality, and the owner who's always in the restaurant, as well as his staff were also very courteous, friendly and helpful, ensuring that your experience will be nothing short of enjoyable. So although the lighting can be challenging for taking food photos, we'll surely be back again for another street-style Korean barbecue session at Ba-Be-Q Korean Charcoal Grill.
Ambiance - 3.5/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Ba-Be-Q Korean Charcoal Grill, A.Venue Mall
G/F A.Venue Mall (beside The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf),
7829 Makati Ave. cor. B. Valdez St., Poblacion, Makati
Metro Manila, Philippines