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K-pop eats

July 2013

No. 2

Korean cuisine and bro-love at Bulgogi Brothers

To Siomai Love

The charms of Modern Shanghai

Home-style wonders

Boon Tong Kee’s Singaporean delights


K-pop beats

Korean cuisine and bro-love at Bulgogi Brothers

p.8 HOME-STYLE WONDERS Boon Tong Kee’s Singaporean delights

p.19 MAP

p.11 TO SIOMAI LOVE The charms of

modern shanghai


AN APPETIZER For several years now, malls have become an integral part of our cultural consumption. Cineplexes, specialist shops, concept stores, and even galleries have popped up in malls, transforming its image to something more than just a go-to place for shopping. This fact has become apparent now that malls are doing away with boxy, claustrophobia-inducing buildings. These places now breathe, attracting people to the allure of shopping at their favorite stores while the open sky smiles down on them. SM Mall of Asia’s sprawling complex has become one of the city’s top destinations. With the addition of the MOA Arena, the area has become a bustling hub of culture and entertainment. And as the foodie culture in Manila thrives with new restaurants joining the fray, MOA has also beefed up its roster of places to dine and discover new ways to excite your tastebuds. For this special issue of LET’S EAT, we foraged the grounds of the Mall of Asia complex for three restaurants that we think are worth visiting. And since we’re at it already, why not pick Asian restaurants that challenge our perceptions of what world-class Asian cuisine is about. Kain na!

On the cover: Haemul Bibimbap from Bulgogi Brothers Cover Photo by GABBY CANTERO

FERNANDO MIGUEL BELMONTE Publisher DON JAUCIAN Managing Editor CLAUDE TAYAG Contributing Editor SPANKY HIZON ENRIQUEZ Contributing Writer GABBY CANTERO Contributing Photographer LUCIEN DY TIOCO Head of Sales & Marketing ALLAN PALOR Visualizer ANNALYN DELGADO Editorial Assistant Golden Letter Publishing, 1497 E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City For inquiries, call 5277901 local 132 or email lets.eat2013@

Home-style wonders Boon Tong Kee’s Singaporean delights By SPANKY HIZON ENRIQUEZ Photos by GABBY CANTERO



he first time I visited Singapore, back in 2007, I distinctly remember asking my good friends Tanny and Noelle to bring me to their favorite Chicken Rice restaurant in the city, and they brought me to “Loy Kee”, which had chickens as plump as pillows, hanging on hooks, proudly displayed by the cooks. I devoured my order as if there was no tomorrow, which was true, in a sense; six years ago, Manila had yet to be “invaded” by this Singaporean hawker center perennial. Back then, my go-to joint for “Hainanese” was Whistle Stop. These days, the dish is available practically anywhere. In theory, it’s easy to cook: just boil chicken. But in fact, it’s one of the most difficult dishes to master. And like any foreign food that gains faddish fame locally, something inevitably gets lost in translation. Boon Tong Kee (BTK), I’m glad to say, has no such problem. Their chicken’ is so authentic and so well cooked, it doesn’t even need a complicated


name on the menu. It’s simply called “Signature Boiled Chicken”. And it is divine. The chicken skin, flawless, pure, and white, with tiny droplets of oil seeping through, practically slides off the moist, juicy, tender meat underneath. The mastery of the cooking process is vey apparent in this restaurant, which opened its first branch in the country at the Mall of Asia just a year ago. There are seven Boon Tong Kees in Singapore. The first was opened by its founder, Thian Bon Hua, as a take-out stall back in 1979. Its first full service restaurant opened in 1983 on Ballester Road. His Philippine partners, Mike and Joy Rodriguez, are not new to the industry; they also operate the very popular Sbarro and Burgoo restaurants. The couple is very enthusiastic about their newest venture — Boon Tong Kee opened its second branch in Rockwell in October 2012, and inaugurated their third, on Tomas Morato, just a couple of days ago, on July 24.


I’m glad that there are more branches now, not just for their chicken, but even more so for their Cereal Prawns. Now this is the dish that I really go to Singaporean restaurants for. More than Chicken Rice or Chili Crabs, this is the one that I truly, madly, deeply love. And Boon Tong Kee’s version is the best I’ve had locally. Instead of the usual corn flakes showered on the crustaceans, BTK’s succulent prawns are coated in wispy tendrils of buttery, floss-like cereal powder. Wonderful stuff. And surprisingly affordable! My other top recommendation? The Coffee Pork Ribs. The caffeine’s bitter flavors balanced by a honey marinade, resulting in a flavor not unlike that of a favorite snack of mine, Hawaiian Host’s Kona Coffee Glazed Macadamia Nuts. So good, I refused to share my order with my companions. Sorry, guys. And to wash all these down? Barley Water,

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HEALTHY OPTIONS Crispy beancurd Thai style pressed tofu salad Boiled seaweed soup with beancurd Poached Chinese spinach with assorted eggs

a creamy beverage with a milky consistency, that tastes like a less tangy, but no less refreshing version of Guyabano juice. There are many more items on the menu that I enjoyed—the Prawn Toast; the Poached Chinese Spinach with three kinds of eggs: Chicken, Salted, and Century; and the Fried French Beans with XO Sauce in particular. Boon Tong Kee surely satisfied my longing for all things Singaporean. I’ll be going back soon, lah? 01 02 03 04 05 06

Prawn toast Coffee pork ribs Fried French bean with spicy XO sauce Poached Chinese spinach with assorted eggs Signature boiled chicken Cereal Prawn


MEAT - P235 (quarter crispy roast chicken) to P845 (whole signature boiled chicken) APPETIZERS – P45 (braised peanuts) to P395 (braised tofu with prawns in claypot) NOODLE, RICE, AND PORRIDGE – P45 (plain rice) to P395 (braised “Yi Mian” with prawns) VEGETABLE AND SOUP – P175 (blanch lettuce with oyster sauce) to P495 (fried French bean and scallops with spicy XO sauce) SEAFOOD – P295 (fried sole fillet in black pepper sauce) to P655 (large crispy cereal prawn) DESSERT – P75 (choco almond jelly) to P145 (green tea crème caramel, pulot hitam, and sago gula-melaka with vanilla cream)



Dishes and beverages with a thumbs up sign are chef’s reccomendations. Their signature drink, barley, goes well with cereal prawns, sea food, fried items, and appetizers.

2/F, Entertainment Mall, North Wing (by Seaside Blvd) SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City Mon-Thu, Sun 10am to 10pm Fri-Sat 10am to 11pm BoonTongKeePH

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To Siomai Love

The charms of Modern Shanghai



ried Chicken”. Those two magic words. Somehow, even the most ordinary of days are made more special by this most common of dishes. Everyone I know has had a wonderful childhood memory about fried chicken, and I’m no exception. Once upon a time, my dad took me to this “panciteria” on Ronquillo St. in Sta. Cruz, Manila. I was around 8 years old, and my dad promised me that I’d meet someone very special. A kindly looking Chinese gentleman approached our table and introduced himself as Mr. Ramon Lee. Lee, he said, as in Bruce. I swooned. Apparently, I’d just met my idol’s brother! Obviously, Mr. Lee and Atty. Enriquez had conspired to make my day, but I didn’t mind. That’s an unforgettable childhood memory. It’s even more awesome because that was the first time I ever tasted “Chinese Fried Chicken”. It was love at first bite. And it’s still is one of the best Fried Chicken meals I’ve ever had in my life. Fast forward to 2013, and once again, I had another transcendent Fried Chicken experience, this time at Modern Shanghai in the Mall of Asia. The “Native Hong Kong Crispy Chicken with Garlic” immediately vaulted into my Top 5 list of Best Fried Chickens Ever. It had perfectly crisp skin, like a crackling almost, and the meat had that unique “Chinese Food” scent, thanks to a marinade of leeks, ginger, and Shao Shing wine. It’s now definitely my number one favorite in the restaurant, one of the newest in the Bistro Group’s ever expanding line-up. The MoA branch opened in January of this year. A second opened at the new Glorietta in May. The restaurant is known as “Modern China” in its five Hong Kong branches, but in the Philippines, it’s been christened with a sexier, more contemporary name. Quite fitting, as Shanghai’s the most modern metropolis on the mainland, yet still one of the most historic in China. Very apt, considering that Modern Shanghai’s menu, while adding a modern twist here and there, strictly adheres to the traditions and techniques of classic Chinese cooking. The first time I dined at the restaurant, my balikbayan relatives, discriminating foodies all, gave rave reviews to the Deep Fried Garoupa with Sweet and Sour Sauce, and I couldn’t get enough of the sinful Tung-Bor Style Braised Pork Belly. Upon my return a few weeks ago, I tried the bestsellers, both variations on the traditional siomai: Xia Long Bao and a comfort food perennial, Steamed Pork and Shrimp. Both made with premium pork, and yes, a little pork fat for some guilt-inducing decadence! Naturally, I gravitated towards the dim sum baskets, but I 12 LET’S EAT JULY 2013






also partook of the Wok Fried Beef Broccoli, made with premium sirloin cuts so tasty, almost like slices of Pinoy “tapa”, that I instinctively asked for some garlic rice! That’s the secret of the everlasting popularity of Chinese restaurants in our country — we’re so used to its flavors, aromas, and textures, that for most of us, Chinese food is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of our own Philippine cuisine. And of course, their unbelievably scrumptious Fried Chicken. Xie Xie, Modern Shanghai! 01 02 03 04 05

Signature Fried Shanghai Noodles Signature Hong Kong Crispy Chicken Steamed Shrimp and Pork Siomai Peaceful Garden Blooming Tea Modern Shanghai’s Signature Xiao Long Bao

Blooming Tea Braised glutens with dried mushrooms, bamboo shots, and fungus Shredded assorted vegetables and dried beancurds with sesame oil Cold cucumber with minced garlic in sesame oil


STARTERS – P88 (Stewed spring bamboo shots) to P358 (Shandong style shredded chicken) SOUPS – P98 (Spicy and sour shanghai style) to P738 (half supreme chicken wanton soup) DISHES – P248 (Sautéed pork loin with assorted capsicums) to P888 (Signature braised lucky pork knuckle) VEGETABLES – P158 (Sautéed green soy beans with beancurd sheets and preserved vegetables) to P358 (Braised beancurd with minced pork in chili bean sauce) NOODLES – P128 (Soup noodles with spring onion oil) to P298 (Szechuan noodles with spicy peanut sauce). BUNS & DUMPLINGS – from P78 (Flour roll) to P228 (Chef’s special pan-fried Xiao Long Bao) DESSERTS – P68 (Glutinous dumplings served in sweet ginger soup) to P118 (Crispy pancakes with red bean paste) BEVERAGES – P118 (Shanghai Lily tea) to P248 (Signature drinks per liter)


The Blooming Tea takes a few minutes to fully bloom so don’t expect it to blossom instantly Blooming Tea selection goes well with crispy noodles and fish dishes Shanghai Lily is best paired with dimsum and main dishes.

2nd Level, North Veranda, Mall of Asia, 1300 Pasay City, Philippines. Call them at (02) 551 1110 ModernShanghaiPhilippines

LET’S EAT JULY 2013 13

K-pop eats Korean cuisine and bro-love at Bulgogi Brothers By SPANKY HIZON ENRIQUEZ Photos by GABBY CANTERO



est ordered with Soju. That’s the recommendation on the menu, directly below the description for the “Bulgogi Brothers Special”, the restaurant’s signature dish. I didn’t disagree. Bulgogi Brothers, located on the second floor of the Mall of Asia’s entertainment area, has a spectacular view of the glistening waters of Manila Bay, and it’s the perfect spot to watch its world famous sunset. Chilled Soju and a dramatic light show at dusk, the cool evening bay breeze, and a generous helping of barbecued Unyang (pounded) and Gwangyang (sliced) Beef Bulgogi? No wonder Bulgogi Brothers has become very popular during Happy Hour among Koreans and Pinoys milling around the sprawling mall. In recent years, the Philippines has gotten so enamored with all things Korean—from K-pop to K-hairstyles to K-telenovelas, that K-food has become part of many Filipinos’ daily diets. Hard to believe that not too long ago, the only “K” that most Pinoys were familiar with was Kimchi! I first learned to love this cuisine as a child, when our family first discovered the now legendary Korea Garden restaurant in Makati, and I keep on loving it. Even more so after I discovered soju, Korea’s version of vodka. I’ll never forget how thirsty (and hungry) that drinking scene from the classic Korean romantic comedy, My Sassy Girl made me. That movie taught me how to wash down Sam Gyeup Sal with shots of the clean tasting liquor distilled from rice or potatoes. Soju is so well distilled, I hardly get any hangovers the day after drinking, no matter how many of those green bottles I consume. Bulgogi Brothers is a very recent addition to my list of K-hotspots. It’s the Bistro Group’s specialty Korean cuisine restaurant, with branches in MoA, Alabang Town Center, and Greenbelt 5 in MetroManila; one at the Harbor Point Mall in Subic; and a fifth, all the way down South in Davao, located at the SM Lanang Premier Mall. The restaurant chain, founded in 2006 in the Gangnam District in Seoul (yes, the very same one made world famous by PSY!) already has 36 restaurants in South Korea. There’s even a Bulgogi Brothers in North America, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, on Canada’s East Coast. All over the world, Bulgogi Brothers is beloved for its patented Heart-Shaped U.S. Prime Beef, definitely the cutest melt-in-your-mouth morsels of beef I’ve seen in any Korean restaurant. I like mine medium rare, cooked just sixty seconds per side, just enough to give them a slight char. Bulgogi Brothers


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also offers a beautifully marbled platter of Premium Boneless Beef Ribs, and the restaurant recently introduced “L.A. Style” Short Ribs, bone-in, and marinated in a special bulgogi sauce. Naturally, all of these are even better with Soju! I asked the restaurant’s chefs about the common favorite of the carbohydrate-loving Koreans and Fiipinos who dine there, and not surprisingly, the consensus is the Bibimbap, a savory combination of bulgogi beef, fresh vegetables, rice, topped with a sunny side up egg, and served in a hot stone pot. The Korean clientele seems to have a heftier appetite than the Filipino families who frequent the restaurant. Pinoys order the Bibimbap for sharing; Koreans often order the same large bowl for solo dining! The sure sign that a restaurant’s cuisine is authentic is this: it’s frequented by the expats and tourists who miss their country’s cuisine. By that indicator, Bulgogi Brothers is as 100 percent Korean as Gangnam Style! Oppa! 01 02 03 04 05

Haemul Bibimbap Premium Boneless Ribs Bulgogi Brothers Special Haemul Gunjung Mandu LA Style Ribs

Haemul Pajeon (pancake with seafood and green onions) Dubu Steak (fried crispy dubu) Janchi guksu (flour noodles)


A LA CARTE – from P245 (6 pcs Dubu Steak) to P675 (10 pcs. Haemul Gungjung Mandu) BARBECUE – from P425 (Chicken bulgogi) to P1495 (Bulgogi brothers special for 2-3 persons) RICE & NOODLES – from P225 (Janchi-guksu) to P430 (Haemul bibimbap) SOUP & STEWS – from P300 (Gangdoengjang) to P495 (Jjigae Brothers) LIQUOR – P225 (Soju – Chamisul) to P425 (Makguli)


Bulgogi Brothers signature dishes are marked with their logo in the menu. For the Dubu Steak, you can request to take out the teriyaki sauce and replace it with tofu. Menu recommendations on which drinks go best with a dish are also indicated. 2nd Floor, South Wing, Mall of Asia complex, Pasay City. For inquiries call (02) 285 2593 or (02) 511-0639 Bulgogi.Brothers.Philippines

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Let's Eat July 2013