Friday, 31 October 2008

In search of authentic Korean Food in Malaysia

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Let me tell you about a slightly different Korean dining experience Liz and I had a couple of days ago.

We went for lunch with our Korean teacher (선생님) on Deepavali day. We decided to visit Sri Hartamas which is densely populated with Korean restaurants and marts. There must be lots of Korean expats living in this area. no? Okay, we were about to go to a local (meaning Malaysian) or Japanese food restaurant because we were all sick of the commercialized Korean fare you get at the restaurants here. Kimchi Jjigae, Korean BBQ, etc. We don't want those...WE WANT AUTHENTIC KOREAN COOKING! At least our
선생님 is pining for some!

Then we spotted Han Sung Korean restaurant with its menu proudly displayed outside the restaurant. After a quick flip through the menu,
선생님's eyes grew larger and she was excited to see "sundae" on the menu. "Sundae" (순대) is typical Korean style sausage made from pigs innards. Okay, it is at this point in time that i will tell you that this Korean food joint is non-halal.

Leaving all notions of going to another restaurant,
선생님 wanted to eat at this place now! And so we ventured into the dark and slightly dingy interior of the restaurant. Although the restaurant has an aged feel and smells a mite musty (to me), it photographs beautifully. And our 선생님 was very happy. She says "I like this place".

We were ushered to a cosy, musty (says Orchid) booth, sat ourselves down, and carefully scrutinized the menu. After a closer view of the menu, 선생님 pointed out that this restaurant serves homestyle (고향이) dishes that you don't see in most other restaurants. We then proceeded to order and 선생님 wouldn't let me order anything that i had eaten before. So no Kimchi Jjigae this time! "Try something new" she said.

So here's what we had....

Of course 선생님 had the 순대국밥 "sundae rice soup". How could she resist?! When the dish arrived, 선생님 happily emptied the entire bowl of rice into the soup and mixed it all up. That's the proper way to eat 국밥 (rice soup) okay! But for "jjigae" dishes, you don't mix the rice with the soup. She exclaimed that this is the first time she is eating "sundae" in Malaysia! Oh how she misses it.

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선생님's scary dish - 순대국밥 "sundae rice soup" (RM20)

선생님 was so happy that she gave Liz and me a piece of "sundae" to try. Oh-kay, i am thinking FEAR FACTOR now.

I just Googled "sundae" and this is what it really is...Steamed small and large intestines of pigs, salted and stuffed with a mixture of pig's blood, rice, green onions, garlic, minced pork and vermicelli. PIGS BLOOD?

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Orchid plays with her food.
This is what 선생님 put on my plate - a slice of "sundae".
After dissecting it and swishing it about on my plate,
i returned most of it to 선생님, and ate the bits
that was left on my plate (see inset).

"Sundae" tastes all right. You taste the bits of vermicelli and a whole lot of pepper. But not knowing what you are eating helps!

Liz had the 한치덮밥 "Rice topped with fresh squid" which is very refreshing. It came in a humongous bowl (enough for two i say!) and you mix it all up before eating. It is a healthy dish with lots of fresh vegetables (the turnips adds a nice juicy crunch) and raw slices of squid. Just like a salad.

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한치덮밥 "Rice topped with fresh squid" (RM25)
A very healthy and refreshing Korean dish
(also not found in most other restaurants)

I had the 순두부 찌개 (Seafood and tofu stew). The stew is slightly spicy and very yummy. Despite the vast amount of food on the table, i drank the stew till the very last drop!

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순두부 찌개 (Seafood and tofu stew) RM15

Another dish which we ordered is the 두부김치 du-bu kimchi (Beancurd & kimchi). Although slightly pricey at RM30, this dish is highly recommended. The kimchi is fried and has a sweet taste to it ~ like Chinese salted veg. To eat it, pile a bit of kimchi and pork onto the slices of beancurd, and pop the whole thing in your mouth. Believe me, the combination of taste is lovely.

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두부김치 dubu kimchi
It tastes as good as it looks

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Here's how you eat dubu kimchi
Pile it up like so, then eat!

What i noticed about this restaurant is that they served slightly different kinds of
banchan. Not the normal fare, slightly exotic. Like have you seen cockles served as a banchan before?

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Cockles (sea-ham) as a banchan

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Three types of kimchi
(from left: radish, cucumber & cabbage)

I also learned a new word at this place. Koreans use "service" to refer to dishes that are complimentary or "on the house". Maybe it was because 선생님 was with us, and the owner liked her, we got a Korean pancake for free! Plus ice-cream for dessert - that was complimentary too!

Needless to say we were very full and satisfied. For RM30 each, i ate until i didn't need any dinner that day. Yes, i was that full!

All in all it was a memorable dining experience. 감사합니다 선생님!

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Korean pancake and ice-cream on the house!
Of course free flow of chilled green tea with your meals.

Just in case you want to go to this place, here's what the exterior of the restaurant looks like. I am sure you have noticed it when driving around Sri Hartamas.

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Go to Han Sung in Sri Hartamas for
some authentic Korean cuisine


Liz said...

You mean I ate pig's blood? Hee hee hee...ignorance is bliss :-).

The sundae thingy - it was rather chewy. All I could smell was the peppery aroma.

Hui Cin said...

KoRyo Won is Starhill do serve cockles.

Anonymous said...

i know this site is all about korean culture and trends but there's also a food in Philippines that has pig's blood on it. Moreover with pork's liver.

I just want to share this, it's called Dinuguan. It's really yummy when you eat it.

ssangyong~ said...

erm i'm sorry if i'm a bit interrupting here...well liz,orhid,n let u know,i'm a malay...
i would like to try the korean foods too as sometimes watching them eating on the screen mcm lazat gile2 je...huhu...but,as i'm a malay,u know lah kn non halal food is a strictly no-no to us (i'm so sori here)...since u guys knew a lot of things related to korean,could u guys suggest to me any korean restaurant that offered us halal food??if there's any...tq...;)

sori if i said something wrong..

btw,i like ur blog...keep it up~;)

Anonymous said...

hai orchid and liz..
yeahh~~ wut as ssangyong talk about, im also want to..
so then, can u guys help me?
coz me and friends (as like damn crazy) to go and eat korean food (i mean which offered halal food to us)..
thanks in advance..


Mrs Park said...

basically I don't think there're any halal Korean food available at the yeah~ good luck in searching (:


I'll DEFINTIELY go there when I visit KL!!! thnx (:

I dunno about KL, but in Sabah the population of Koreans is about 300++ and whereever there's a Korean restaurant..there will be Koreans :D and the restaurants here are run by NATIVE KOREANS ^o^

yokee 요키 said...

HALAL korean restaurant in KL :
Koryowon @ KLCC & Kompleks Antarabangsa. its ala carte in KLCC so its more expensive and there's no refill of banchans. else u can try K.Antarabangsa where they serve buffet.

liz/orchid..if possible ask ur 샘 if she knows of any local that serves REAL 낙지볶음(fried spicy octopus). dont miss this when u r in seoul cos im still craving for the one i had 3 years back when i was there. and so far i couldnt find one here that serves that kind of octopus.

oh there's another that i always go to in sri hartamas..대사관 DaeSaKwan. they serves real good 갈비침 (spicy beef stew) ^^

Natt said...

i know this sounds stupid, but is Korean food expensive? Overall, how much does it cost per person?

ssangyong~ said...

owh thank you very much yokee for
d infos!!definitely i'll try it later..yeay!!

thanks to mrs park and others too~...;)

p/s : so sorry orchid,i spelt ur name
wrongly above...didn't realize it until juz sori yar~

alchocoholic said...

Hey ssangyong/guys, if you're looking for a halal place to eat korean food, try the korean stall at midvalley's food court (next to all the gyms). I've never taken note of the name but there's a pic of lee young ae (as dae jeung geum) so it's easy to find.

The food's pretty good, the portions are huge and the price is affordable. The owner is a korean woman (who sits there chatting with her friends sometimes hehe) and the cook's korean too so u know it's pretty authentic korean food.

I shared yukgaejang and ddukbukgi with my bf and it came up to rm21. Everything comes with a cup of tea, some kimchi and 2 more side dishes. Definitely hit the spot as we were craving some korean and we've been back several times already hehe :) Just thought i'd share this info with u guys!

Orchid said...

I've added the links to the halal Korean restaurants that we've reviewed at the bottom of this entry. Usually if the restaurant is in a food court then it is halal. Someone recommended the Korean stall at 1Utama's (old wing) Jaya Jusco food court. Or those fast food type of Korean restaurants are mostly halal too!

Koryowon is halal too? Okay...thanks. About the fried spicy octopus, will ask our teacher when we see her! Koreans love octopus huh? That dish sounds nice.

There's cheap and there's expensive. Depends on where you go. The foodcourts and fast foods are cheaper than the restaurants.

ssangyong~ said...

mid valley???wow!!that's awesome!!thanx u sooo
much for the infos that u had shared with us...;D:D:D:D

thanx u soo much!!!i've reviewed d links n thanx too for posting such great reviews...;D:D:D:D

i just cannot wait!!
soo excited!!
thanx everyone~...;D

Clammy said...

Mmm Sundae... Mmmm. Sundubu.... The cravings are growing!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hey ssangyong/guys, if you're looking for a nice korean kimchi, try this I've tried it and it is pretty good and the price is affordable too. It's pretty authentic korean food.

♥corcraze♥ said...

aahh,it's quite sad that there are few korean restaurant here in malaysia,including Han Sung but most of it are NON-HALAL!
Nevermind i had my Roboki (i not sure the spelling)yesterdaya at The Street Cafe!
Will try those HALAL korean foods in Pavillion,Mid,OU etc in future,definitely!

Thanx for these awesome info and entries!


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