Thursday, September 13, 2012

Let Chef's Noodle Fire-up Your Senses

Oh U.M., I've missed you! 
  It's been sixteen long years since I last saw you.   
But when I saw you again, you've changed.  
From the fashionable and trendy alley now to gastronome's haven. 
 It might have dampened me but instead the transformation shook me up.
Nah!  I know it won't pass for a good poem.  But yes, I used to be a regular of UM , shortened from University Mall.  It used to be one of our hang-outs during college.  It's where I checked for vogue items to add to my rather traditional and commonplace apparel during those times.  
Now, let us take a closer look to what had replaced my dismay.   As a consideration, I haven't been very particular to the fad for fashion, rather, I had my senses for what's new in the dining scene.   The Philippine food market has been very open to more and more cuisines, that excites me more.   Like KPOP craze and Koreans being ubiquitous everywhere in the country, it's not far from reality that their food storm our dining tables.
 Korean restaurants, though few have been present since 1974, not many know about this.   And boy, how could we have missed the famous Korea-novela "Jewel in the Palace."  It did put a remarkable mark of awareness for us Filipinos about the dishes Koreans love, enticing us to try it.   Kimchi being the most famous is served in almost all of their dishes.  It is like the Korean's Salad.
Oh, how could I have forgotten, what really replaced my dismay was this Korean restaurant that my husband and I had tried,  Chef's Noodle.   Located on the second floor,
it is the one that will welcome you as you go up.  They serve Kimchi as an appetizer for free.   Maybe by this, kimchi might pass for a national obsession like in Korea.   More like our very own "atchara" (pickled papaya), it is the strangest condiment I have ever laid my eyes on.  To be honest it's my first time to try it.  I remember someone gave some to me, but with the odor it goes with I never really had a bite.  According to many it is an acquired taste to enjoy it.  If you love spicy, cold and fermented vegetables then, you'll get hooked on this.  My first taste of it isn't that bad actually, in fact it was good, especially the slight crunch you get with the cabbage stem when you bite into it.
I ordered Bibimbop and what I got is a kaleidoscope of vegetables arranged atop steamed rice.    There are some flavorful minced beef,   there's a fried egg on top, nori flakes and  always on the side, there is gochujang, the fermented, deep-red chile paste.   I think this what sets Korean dishes from Japanese, aside from the spices mixed directly on the dishes, the red sauce or gochujang differs in hotness from other chili sauces, which I thought was just a regular super-hot catsup.   Bibimbop (sounds like Hanson's song huh!) is under the Budget Meals category, for a mere P 99, you get this bowl. 
As you can see it is not just a bowl, it's a huge one.
For Bhoggs, Curry Dupbap (P 130).  This really intrigued him.  A midst the play of colors and the catchy sesame seeds, and the important ingredients, curry sauce and the Korean chili dressing, gochujang, there is fish.   
He said,"it is not meat, but something else, but definitely there's the strong curry flavor."   Then he said, Now I know, it's a Korean version of fish rice bowl!"
Next on our order is the Starking Fire Sushi (P 160).   A definite star, king and show-stopper of  every meal.  Make sure you also get to experience having your sushi steak fired right before you.  Don't be surprised when a wait staff gets to your table with raw beef sushi and a torch on hand.   We love the thinly sliced flavorful Australian beef on a roll of sticky rice, the steak was done medium rare but has that tenderness you want on a perfectly cooked steak.
Kimbap (P 95) on the other hand is a Korean specialty, maybe borrowed from Japanese tradition though, is a sushi, perfect for a quick lunch or snack for people on the go.  Korean in the sense that the rice rolls hold the kimchi, Korean ham, radish and eggs on the middle.   No need for wasabi, the white dressing on top is spicy enough.
That ended our Korean dinner at U.M.  Took home an order of Chef's Noodle and Jjampong for the kids too.  But let me share you other dishes that I had also tried prior to this Korean dinner date with Bhogs.  
Warning!  Brace your belly belt...
Chef’s Noodle (P 150).   The restaurant’s signature dish is a delightful savory concoction of yummy noodles with a variety of toppings.  Searching from the net, there are a lot of Korean noodle dishes, from cold to hot; potato, buckwheat and wheat.  Chef's Noodle however varied in such a way that celebrity chef Choi In Sun has created, showing his prowess in fusion cuisine.   It has to be spicy, to be truly Korean.  There is also something in the beefy stock that enhances the holistic flavor of the soup, perhaps some secret spices and herbs.   Bulgogis are ample and vegetables are still crunchy, for the stock is only poured upon serving.   Perhaps at this point I had dreamt that Jang-Geum (the main character from the famed GMA 7 Koreanovela, Jewel in the Palace) was pouring the aromatic soup on the collage of fresh picks on my bowl, then I looked again realizing that it's a man and far from getting that royalty look from Jang-Geum.
Japchae (P 130), another well-loved Korean noodle dish, incorporates virtually any selection of vegetables. Those in season have the best flavor. Vegetables are fried seperately in a minimal amount of oil. Other ingredients can include match stick-sliced beef and vermicelli noodles (made from potatoes and sweet potatoes). When each ingredient has been fried and the noodles cooked and cut into short lengths, all the ingredients are combined, sauteed quickly, and seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar.
Don Kas is a tweak on Ton Katsu (sounds similar don't you think?).  The meat that is pork is breaded and seasoned the Korean way.   As you can see, gochujang is on the side, and there's their signature Chef's Noodle labeled tamago, which I find so nifty, on the other side,  finished off with the humongously-sized   bean sprouts and red-bell pepper.   
If all those selection haven't impressed you yeat, how about these.  There's Leek Shrimp Twigim ( P 99) for the craunchy alternative, where leeks and shrimps where whipped with  special tempura batter and deep-fried.   Okay this one is not spicy but quite a conversational piece.
Bulgogi Leek Jun ( P 99) is classified under main and pancakes.  It is likened to a pancake but more of an omelet to me.  It has bits of Bulgogi, leeks and other vegetables, not spicy as well.
For the meat-loader, there's Wanja Steak Jun, only P 175.  You will definitely hit it big on the ground beef on this one, I only ate a third of it, not because I didn't like it but it is as big as an ordinary plate.  It's like a a giant Salisbury steak, only has a sweet, spicy sauce near to teriyaki sauce drizzled on it.  Or maybe it is a cross-over between a big hamburger and egg benedict, although it is not served in between a sliced bun.  The sliced cheddar cheese and sunny-sided egg on top of it bewildered me.

Celebrity chef, Choi In Sun, has crafted a selection of mouthwatering fusion of Korean favorites, as can be admired here, in order to cater to the growing interest for all things Korean like KPOP and the Gangnam Style dance craze, while also paying tribute to his roots, for the latest fast-casual dining restaurant around.
It’s also worth noting that Chef’s Noodle doesn't just offer delectable dishes that have a unique twist, it also makes sure that it keeps prices affordable so that more people can enjoy awesome Korean food. Perfect for students on a budget to families, and basically just anyone who’s in the mood for a hearty, delicious meal.
Ensuring that each visit is going to be a delightful experience for diners, Chef’s Noodle’s courteous staff will easily make everyone feel at home, which is then complemented by the wonderfully relaxed ambiance.

Also, before I forgot, they are right now on a contest promotion. 
You can win tickets to Big Bang Alive Galaxy Tour in Manila when you join I Love Chef's Noodle Photo Contest!
Do you like taking pictures? Do you like eating good food? 
Show everyone your photography talents and you might just win 2 Lower Box Tickets to the Big Bang Galaxy Alive Tour this October 24, 2012 at the SM Mall Of Asia.
Contest ends on October 19, 2012 and the winner will be announced on October 20, 2012.
For the full mechanics visit their Facebook page or click HERE.
If you have read the mechanics and ready to win, join HERE.

Chef’s Noodle

2F University Mall Taft Avenue, Malate Manila 
Store Hours: Mon – Fri:10:00 am-9:00 pm ; Sat:10:00 am-6:00 pm 
Contacts: (+632) 4050129 / (+632)7089520

Visit their official website
Like them on Facebook and follow them in Twitter


  1. These dishes are really affordable in the Philippines. One question: are Korean dishes always hot and spicy? I've never been to any Korean restaurant. I think we don't have it here in Florence. I've seen one in Milan and I wanted to try it when I go there on December.

    When I saw the photo with the sushi being cooked with a flame-thrower thing, I thought- Sushi Vulcanizing Shop? hahahahaha!

    Tagal din ako hindi nakatambay sa blog mo....

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