One trip to Korea was all it took to convince me that I love Korean cuisine. I can eat Korean barbecue with Ssamjang (spicy-sweet Korean barbecue sauce) everyday—especially if it’s served with ice-cold Soju while watching my favorite Koreanovelas!
Samgyupsal being grilled
What’s funny, however, is how I’ve found my favorite Korean restaurants in the Philippines not in Manila, but in Iloilo. Maybe it has a lot to do with how I get so much good food for less! So I decided to share with you some of my Korean faves in Iloilo, in case you’re in town or are planning a trip here soon.
If you’d really like an authentic Korean feast, Arirang at the ground floor of Sarabia Manor Hotel along General Luna Street will guarantee that experience, complete with the Korean owner in Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) cooking your grilled dishes for you. Its chopsticks holders proclaim it the Best Korean Restaurant in Iloilo, but you can hardly disagree: Their Korean dishes are delicious and authentic.
While pricier than a lot of restaurants in Iloilo—their Samgyupsal Set (pork belly) and Bulgogi Jeongsic are at P495 each—every order of main dish comes with 16 different side dishes (Banchan), including Kimchi, that accompany the rice, as well as a spicy-sour soup with diced tofu and lettuce for wrapping your pork belly. You definitely get what you pay for.
Soup included in your meal in Arirang
Before we discovered Arirang, our first favorite Korean restaurant in Iloilo is Kogi & Vegi at Riverside Boardwalk, which is frequented by Koreans: a tell-tale sign they offer amazing and authentic Korean food. Their Samgyupsal is affordable at P280, and comes with lettuce for wrapping as well as a variety of refillable side dishes. You can also get Woosamgyup (Beef Samgyupsal) for P400.
If you want soup, try the Jjamppong Bap, P350, noodles in face-warming spicy soup with vegetables and seafood, served with rice. If you don’t feel like grilling your own food, just order their Beef Bulgogi, P350, whose delicious marinade made of soy sauce, honey, green onion, garlic, sesame seeds, and pepper is great to mix with steamed rice. Also try the boneless Yangnyum Chicken, P350, for a half order already good for two to three persons, that’s deep fried and coated with spicy, sweet, and sour sauce.
Kogi & Vegi menu
Cooking our own Korean barbecue feast at Kogi & Vegi
If you want Korean for dinner, head to Jip Bab, at the Festive Walk Parade of Megaworld Iloilo Business Park. The restaurant requires a minimum of two orders of their main dish to be grilled, so since there were just two of us, we were only able to try the Samgyupsal, which the staff cooked in front of us on their electric smokeless grill. It was sulit at P290 per order, especially since it came with unlimited rice and side dishes (five pickled varieties). Enjoy it with a bottle (or two) of soju! Tip: One of the owners of Jip Bab told us that soju is best enjoyed mixed with some calamansi concentrate. Ask them for some—the combo is delicious!
Enjoying Samgyupsal and Beef Bulgogi in Haroo
Our other Korean restaurant discoveries include Haroo, a hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant along a quiet street in Jaro, as well as Kogi-Q in SM City Iloilo, which lets us enjoy all the Korean barbecue we can eat—including rice and veggies—for only P370/pax! It even includes bottomless iced tea. Super sulit!
Grilling our own eat-all-you-can Korean barbecue at Kogi-Q
Jeongmal mashisseo! Namit gid! Really delicious!