It can be a bit of a challenge to find great Korean food in Manila. It’s not that there is a shortage of Korean restaurants. The Korean restaurant scene really is thriving in Manila. In fact, many Koreans have made their way here to pursue businesses all around the country. This includes my greater neighbourhood Poblacion, (holler!) welcoming a growing Korea Town! Personally, I do favour Korean over other Asian cuisine. I love how there is never a shortage of vegetables with each meal. Banchan always gets me excited (if you are a food lover, then you know that feeling). I think, it’s the anticipation of what you will get. Because not all banchan is the same.
Anyhow, I was schoolgirl giddy when I was invited to Jin Joo’s soft opening, to try out some major deliciousness! Jin Joo is a Korean restaurant that caters to the Filipino palate, located on the 5th floor of SM Aura, in Bonifacio Global City. Surrounded by dozens of restaurants in the mall. But behold, this is the only Korean restaurant of it’s kind here. Luckily for them, there's no competition in the building.
Bright, cheerful and pastel. Hip and upbeat. Great for the younger trendy Manila crowd. Soju bottles lined the walls. Music was a little bit of a mix of K pop and Western pop. I honestly wasn’t paying too much attention as my mind was fixated on all the dishes they were bringing out. Jin Joo offers a generous selection of traditional Korean dishes, alongside an array that cater more for the heavier Filipino palate.
What to eat? What to eat?
Each table comes barbecue ready, and is furnished with smoke diffusers and grills. If you are coming with a medium to large group of carnivore friends, then I strongly recommend the “8 flavors.” This is samgyeopsal (pork belly) marinated 8 ways, rolled up and laid out on a tray in all its meaty glory. Check my pics on the left. You cannot beat this, and there is plenty to go around. There were four of us, and even we were struggling to finish it.
Gimme those 8 flavours!
Honey Garlic, Wine, Curry, Herb Soybean, Red pepper, Nutty Smokey BBQ They are arranged exactly in this order. See how the flavors go from strength to strength?
More of a Cheese addict?
Yes? Then there’s the Cheese Dung Galbi. This one they are renowned for. If your palate is on the heavier side, then this is the dish for you. BBQ baby back ribs with mozzarella cheese, corn and steamed egg. Yeah baby.
Now, if meat is not quite up your alley, your choices may be more restricted as Korean food does tend to be meat based. Even if the dish doesn’t mention meat, it does usually hide in the broth or the seasoning. Nevertheless, there are other traditional favourites like the Godeungeo Gui (grilled mackerel), and Doenjang Jiggae (soybean paste soup). The Tofu and Mushroom Bibimbap would probably be one of the main dishes offered for vegans. Our party also went for the Haemul Pajeon (savory seafood pancakes) which was much larger than I had anticipated, Beef Bulgogi Bibimbap, and Sundubu Jiggae (Spicy Tofu stew).
Definitely a great night out, especially if you are a large carnivorous group. There’s something about sharing food with friends and loved ones, that is so warm and honest. This restaurant has a very fast and happy vibe to it. They do not take reservations, so you may need to be prepared to queue up for a bit before getting a table as they are pretty popular these days. Go and pay them a visit, share some food, decide for yourselves, and remember what I recommended!
Who has been to Jin Joo in SM Aura? What did YOU think of it overall?
5/F Sky Garden, SM Aura Premier Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City Philippines Tel: 0917 248 1777