Seorae: Korean Charcoal BBQ with NO chance of 'Smoke gets in your eyes'

An army of soju bombs lined up in sweet precision. That's enough to convert me into a degenerate drunkard even on a breezy Tuesday afternoon. I kid you not, a trip to Seorae, Plaza Singapura's latest resident Korean BBQ joint will have you battling some alcoholic tendencies as the yakault soju makes repeated anonymous visits to the table (I blame the ninja boyfriend). But drinks aside, food is the real deal here, capturing the true essence of Korean communal dining in a tight space.

Unveiled for the first time in Singapore, the signature galmaegisal (also occupying a significant space on the wall with porky directory) - also known as pork skirt steak is available here. Marinated in a delicious blend of Korean spices and grilled to perfection, the result is something so tantalizing, rich flavored and juicy that it would have you hissing in anticipation as you proceed to pop the piping hot jewel into your mouth. Dip it into braised sweet onions or the accompanying spicy sauces to amp up the flavor. 

A close conduct of the 'smelly-hair' test afterwards reveals an slight impression of smoky flavors on the clothes. I suppose there's no getting away with a quick trip to the joint without being called out. Since that's the case, drag the colleagues over for a feast! I hearsay they have a Galmaegisal grll party set priced at an affable $24.50++ per pax, consisting of 3 portions of meat, a bowl of jjigae, 2 bowls of rice, a portion of that melty cheese, you'll so want to twine your pork chops around and the mandatory Seorae ban chan. What a bargain!

Scrutinising the galmaegisal a little, we first evaluate the price scheme, starting at $21.90 for the spicy and garlic soya options; it is seemingly more worthwhile to order the Three Musketeers plate ($31.90) which provides a spread of original, sweet and spicy pork belly, the samgyeobsal proving victorious in my eyes over the pork skirt. My favourite of the lot being the sweet variation, its nectarous marinade leading to swoon-worthy caramelization as it cooks over high heat.

While the pork skirt steak may steal the limelight, the other meats do not pale in comparison, each tossed in a marinade that is significantly different from the other. I would recommend ordering the samgyeobsal (belly) and Hangjeongsal (neck) - wrap the finished product in lettuce leaf and eat it whole to prevent make a mess with the juices that runneth over.

Other side dishes that shouldn't be neglected include the Dosirak ($12.90, $9.90++ at lunch) and the Bibim Nangmyeon Noodles ($15.90). The former diguised as a bento meal in tin box is pleasantly tasty after a quick toss up. The hearty mixture of beef sausage, sunny side up egg, kimchi, anchovies and rice forming the part of a wholesome meal in a tight package. The latter, may not look as pleasant, but once more, give it a good mix and the derivant is invitingly addictive, the tanginess really coming through amidst the special bibim spicy sauce. Fans of the cold noodle should take to this rendition for a new perspective.

While the meal progressed on booming track, Seorae hit a short stop with their Sundubu Jjigae ($18.90 for large and $14.90 for small) which arrived at the table - a menacing cauldron of hot oil wafting above its supposed treasure pot of ingredients. My undeniable thirst for alcohol increased 10-fold after sipping down on the broth. If you don't take to spiciness very well, avoid this like a plague. Even the innocuous soft tofu had chili permeating its roots. 

The Bingsoo arrives in a timely manner, appropriately to douse the flames from the sundubu jjigae. Modelled as sunny-side eggs, decorated with neat cubes of cheesecake and made barely legal with lashings of Irish cream; you name it, Patbingsoo's has got it nailed. *ahem* they even have a salad rendition for those in denial. 

We dug into the Bibim Patbingsoo, Apgujeong bingsoo, Gangnam Patbingsoo and Itaewon Bingsoo with no reservations. Spoons drifting in and out at lightning speed. The verdict was as clear as day, as much as I enjoy my fruits, the Bibim ($12.90) (fruits + jelly + strawberry sauce + vanilla ice cream) failed to cast an impression, the faux sunny side up egg serving up more aesthetics pleasures than taste. Since PatBingSoo is now having a promotional 50% off at lunch, I would strongly recommend you get the Gangnam Patbingsoo (popcorn + cornflakes +caramel + vanilla ice cream) or the Apgujeong Bingsoo (cheese sauce + cheesecake + cheese wafer + vanilla ice cream) to share. My preference lying with the former, its classic combination of caramel sauce over vanilla ice cream justifying the extra calories consumed while the fresh and still crisp caramel popcorn rounding the edges sealing the deal.

Sure, Seorae's prices lean towards the steep side. But then again, so do most Korean BBQ joints out there. Don't quite understand the fuss but hey at least the meat marinades are more authentic here (not so much of that vampire killer, garlicky nonsense some places would employ as camouflage techniques for meat that ain't so fresh). Visit at lunch for the best deals!

Seorae Singapore
68 Orchard Road
Plaza Singapura
t: 6238 8429

Operating Hours:
Sun - Thurs: 11am - 10pm
Fri - Sat: 11am -11pm

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