Get your fix of Korean BBQ, bibimbap, hot pot – and everything else in between – at these Korean restaurants in Singapore.
We seem to love everything Korean these days, from music (K-pop) to snacks (fried chicken – sinful but oh-so-delicious!) to desserts (bingsu)…and so much more. And when it comes to Korean food, there is a lot more to discover than just kimchi, army stew and bibimbap (although this are a staple to the cuisine, of course).
Even though Korean restaurants have been dotted all over Singapore for many years now, it can be hard to tell sometimes what’s authentic and what’s just generally Asian food with a Korean twist — so we’ve done the work for you.
If bibimbap is your favourite Korean dish, this is the place to go, as it offers a modernised version of this popular food. This restaurant chain is the brainchild of Jong Won Paik, one of the most successful celebrity chefs in Korea. The first restaurant in Singapore opened in 2013 and there are seven outlets here now. You’ll find modern interpretations of the traditional dish here and the bibimbap is served with a hearty serving of fresh vegetables so you won’t feel guilty indulging in this. And, if you prefer noodles to rice, there are noodle dishes too, such as Paik’s Bibim Warm Noodles with Soy Sauce, which is packed with savoury soy minced meat and lots of vegetables.
Paik’s Bibim, various locations islandwide.
Stepping into this BBQ restaurant will make you feel like you’ve travelled to Seoul. It harks back to the days when people used to meet to eat, drink and talk, and aims to remind diners of that communal spirit that brought friends and family together. It uses real charcoal for its BBQ (which adds to its flavour) and only high-quality meats are served here. Take your pick from a variety of marinated and non-marinated meats or you can go for its set menus too. Other items include kim chi pancake, ginseng chicken soup, Korean style instant noodle and spicy chicken stew.
Wang Dae Bak, 98 Amoy St., 069918; 2 Cross St., #01-64 China Square Central, 048423
Candy Namgung Ji Young is a former tutor who spent years cooking for Korean students studying in Singapore, then decided to open her own restaurant in 2012. Not surprisingly, the menu here is filled with homestyle dishes and she makes them with a little help from her mum’s recipes. The no-frills look of the restaurant gives it a more authentic, ‘homely’ look, so it actually adds to its charm. The specialties here are suyuk (steamed pork belly) and dakgalbi (pan-fried chicken), which isn’t served in many Korean restaurants here. Some of the dishes have been tweaked to suit Singaporean tastes but if you’ve ever dined at someone’s home in Korea, you’ll appreciate the food here. It gets busy very often so it’s best to make a reservation before you head here.
Bigmama Korean Restaurant, 2 Kim Tian Rd., 169244
If pork is your meat of choice, this is the place to go. It serves thick slices of Mangalitza pork belly, which is often referred to as ‘the Kobe beef of pork’. The Mangalitza Hog is a rare pig of Hungarian origin and its meat is lower in cholesterol, and has higher levels of zinc, copper, iron and oleic acid. Order the 8 Colours Set and you’ll be served the pork belly in eight flavours – wine, original, ginseng, garlic, herb, curry, miso paste, and red pepper paste. Beef aficionados will love this restaurant too as there’s a choice of Argentinian grass fed, USDA prime and Japanese Wagyu beef. The Korean Grilled Squid is a good choice from the seafood selection and other popular dishes here include Army Stew, Seafood Pancake and Black Ginseng Chicken Soup. It’s a full-service BBQ restaurant so all you have to do here is enjoy your food after it’s been expertly prepared at your table.
8 Korean BBQ, 6 Eu Tong Sen St., #02-79/90 The Central, 059817; Shaw Centre #04-20/21, 1 Scotts Rd., 228208
Authentic flavours take centrestage here, with modern Korean cuisine that reflects authentic Korean culture, while embracing local tastes too. Go for the BBQ lunch or dinner buffet – you can choose the normal or premium buffet, or one without beef. And make sure you wipe your plates clean as a $50 fine will be charged if there is more than 100g of leftover food (yay to zero waste!). You could also choose the items you want from the a la carte menu, if you just fancy having a few specific dishes. And, if you’re looking for a private or corporate dining experience, the traditional Hanjeongsik Course set menus will give you an experience that was enjoyed in the royal palaces and aristocrats’ homes. It’s fine dining done in traditional Korean style and sure feels like a meal fit for royalty.
Seoul Restaurant, #03-02 Regent Hotel, No.1 Cuscaden Rd., 249715
Anyone who has lived in the Serangoon Garden area will know that there’s tons of good food to be had here and you can find a plethora of cuisines too. Hanwoori is one such exciting eatery here, and it’s a low-key establishment that’s mostly known to those who frequent the area, or if you’re a big fan of Korean food. There are BBQ meat dishes and bibimbap but a must-try is the Kimchi Hotpot. Lunchtime is a good time to dine here as they serve a number of $10 nett options then, and these items are rotated often too. But probably the most exciting attraction here is the ladyboss, who is quite a character, to say the least. Pop in and experience her friendly chatter and you’ll definitely be back for more.
Hanwoori Korean Restaurant, 76 Serangoon Garden Way, 555972
Tofu fans should head here as there’s a variety of dishes to choose from. The signature dish here is the Soontofu Soup (‘soon’ means soft) and it’s made from white soybeans imported from South Korea, then boiled, curdled and pressed for just the right taste and texture. Every soontofu dish is handmade fresh daily in the restaurant’s kitchen and the 10-ingredient soup broth is made from a secret recipe. After boiling, the broth is left to set for a couple of days so the flavour is brought out naturally, instead of having to add any artificial flavouring. Choose your spice level – mild, medium, spicy and crazy hot – then pick the soontofu that takes your fancy, including oyster, kimchi biji, seafood, original beef and original pork. There are other dishes to try here too, such as Grilled Chicken (spicy or teriyaki sauce), LA Galbi (BBQ short ribs) and Cockles Bibimbap (rice with spicy cockles and seaweed). The restaurant also serves Korean puffer fish, and claims to be the first Korean restaurant in Singapore to do so.
SBCD Korean Tofu House, 7 Wallich St., #B1-01/02 Tanjong Pagar Centre, 077884; 9 Raffles Blvd., #01-114 Millenia Walk, 039586
The seafood tower craze from Korea hit Singapore in the form of this restaurant. How does this concept work? The tiers are stacked one on top of another and a variety of seafood are cooked in steamers, layer by layer, from top to bottom, so you can eat off the tower one tier at a time. Order the number of towers you’d like to enjoy according to how many people you’re dining with (or how hungry you all are). The sauce bar has two dozen condiments and ingredients and there are suggestions as to how to pair each food so you won’t be lost even if it’s your first time here. The broth sits in a pot at the bottom of the tower and, with the juices from the seafood dripping down right to the bottom, you’ll end up with a soup base full of flavours. Order a premium soup base such as Korean Ginseng Chicken, Korean Kimchi or Korean Tomato. When you’re done with all the seafood on the towers, turn your meal into a hot pot feast by ordering other items to cook in this soup base. There are other types of food to order here too, such as Garlic Pork Belly, Fried Seafood Tofu, and Captain K’s Sweet Potato Fries.
Captain K Seafood Tower, 112 Middle Rd., #01-00 Midland House, 188970
Also owned by Korean celebrity chef Jong Won Paik, this popular chain from South Korea has a couple of outlets in Singapore too. The restaurant’s specialty, Woo Sam Gyup, is a must-try. It’s Chef Paik’s recipe of thinly-sliced beef, seasoned with a top-secret marinade. Eat the juicy meat by itself once it’s cooked or dip it in the accompanying spicy sauce, or why not roll it up with some vegetables too? If you prefer to stay cool and not have a grill with sizzling meat in front of you, try the Born-Ga Naeng Mun – buckwheat noodles served in an icy-cold broth, with vegetables, pear and beef slices, and topped with a hard-boiled egg. Cold noodles might not be something we’re used to but this just might surprise your taste buds – in a good way.
Bornga, #01-641 Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Blvd., 038983; #02-123 VivoCity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, 098585
By Balvinder Sandhu, July 2019 / Updated by Willaine G. Tan, February 2021 / Images: Courtesy of the restaurants’ social media pages.
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