I heard about a Korean restaurant called Gaia from a well known chef in Singapore. Apparently the owner is Korean and she is in the process of writing a Korean cook book. I though this might be the authentic Korean restaurant I have been looking for. Previously, it was Dae Jang Keum in Shenton Way, but they have changed management and it’s no longer as authentic as it used to be.
Gaia is located at Suntec. There were some events on when we were there and it was very noisy outside. So we chose to sit inside. Some of the wait staff were Korean, so that got my hopes up. We ordered yuk ge jang (육계장 – spicy chilli beef soup) and the sun du bu lunch sets. (순두부 – sun du bu + chilli chicken) There were six different side dishes which kept us very happy until the main dishes arrived. My favourite side dish was muk (acorn jelly in soy sauce) and my girlfriend’s was Lotus roots in soy sauce.
The main dishes arrived and the sun du bu was excellent. It was almost like having it back in Korea. However, my yuk ge jang was different to what I remembered. So my girlfriend tried it as well and we weren’t quite sure what it was but it almost tasted like it was about to go off. We asked the waitress if we can change. The owner came out and explained that they make a new batch every day and they add special wine to get rid of the beef smell but we weren’t convinced. She recommended another dish and was very apologetic. I ended up ordering grilled mackrel and finished the lunch with complementary watermelon slice.
Overall, I would give the food 7 out of 10 and 8 out of 10 for the service. Drop by the restaurant for lunch rather than dinner as it is a bit pricey. Lunch was around $15 per person.
I don’t usually eat out to have Korean food as I can cook most of the dishes myself. I also found Korean food in Singapore is mostly modified to suit the locals so it is generally sweeter. There are a few dishes though that it’s difficult to replicate in my kitchen such as gam ja tang (aka potato stew) so when I saw a Razor TV episode showing a Korean restaurant specialising in gam ja tang, I was on a mission to try it out.
I think due to the publicity on Razor TV, Kim’s Family restaurant has attracted a lot of customers. When we arrived on Sunday evening around 7pm, there were many customers waiting. It took us about 15mintues to get a table. I didn’t see any Korean customers dining so I thought we weren’t off to a good start.
We specifically went to Kim’s Family restaurant to try gam ja tang but we were told that it needs to be ordered one day in advance. What a disappointment! We ended up ordering sun du bu (my girlfriend’s favourite dish-chilli silken tofu soup), seafood pancake, chilli pork with rice, chilli octopus with rice and my favourite, yuk ge jang(chilli beef soup). We were dining with another couple so don’t worry, it wasn’t just the two of us ordering all that food……
Firstly, there were lots of side dishes but they were not very tasty. The sun du bu was too oily ( you can see in the picture) as was the pancake. However the chilli pork and chilli octupus were both really, really good. The restaurant forgot about my yuk ge jang so we never got to try it. So, would I go back to this restaurant? perhaps not.
When you are looking for an authentic Korean restaurant (outside Korea of course), the first rule of thumb is to check out if there are a lot of Koreans dining there. It is usually a good indication of the food and service level. We Koreans are very very fussy with our food!! ^_^
Let me know what your favorite Korean restaurant is.