At Sarang, one can experience what it is like to dine in Gangnam, Seoul, without having to travel there
By Chia Hui Jun
If you have not visited Sarang Korean Bistro before, you might easily miss it as it is tucked in a quiet corner amidst the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road.
Located on the seventh floor of Orchard Central, its full-length glass windows give the place an airy feel, and offer a bird’s eye view of Orchard Road.
As I entered, what first caught my attention was how it gives the feel of dining close to nature. From the maple wooden floors, to the artificial greenery – temperate trees and a green wall – to the wooden benches and tables, it makes for a cosy gathering with friends or family, or to chill out after work.
Aligned with the aim of keeping Sarang uniquely Korean, most pieces of furniture were specially imported from Korea. The quirky chairs are weaved into otherwise uniform rattan seats so, if you look carefully, no two seats are the same. There is also a breezy,
al fresco section.
Along with its interior overhaul, the menu has also undergone a revamp after Head Chef Jung Yun Yur trawled the streets of upmarket Gangnam, Itaewon, Hongdae and Sinchon to get inspiration for a new menu with delectable offerings.
One of the first Korean restaurants in Singapore, what is unique about Sarang is its recently rolled out tapas, and how its food is tweaked to cater to Singaporean taste buds while preserving traditional Korean elements.
One such dish is the Volcanic Chicken ($21), which features a fiery red dish of chicken marinated in the chef’s special spicy volcano sauce, served in a sizzling pan. The various shades of deep red and bright red should sound an alarm for those who can’t take spicy food, but it’ll be a delight for those who are accustomed to local favourites like chilli crab.
We started off with refreshing cucumber soda, and a nondescript dish of Folded Eggs ($6.50) – Korean-style egg omelette with green chilli, cheese and vegetables. The Sarang Japchae ($7), which is a classic Korean dish of vermicelli noodles tossed in sesame oil, tasted as good as it was visually appealing. The noodles were chewy and comfortingly warm, and had a sticky, bouncy texture.
The Kimchi Pancake ($8) made with aged kimchi and served with a light soy dipping sauce was yummy, spicy and delightfully crisp. It was so satisfying that I went for seconds, and thirds.
The classic tapas came with a variety of cocktail pairings – Watermelon Soju, Yuzu Makgeolli, Soju Bomb and Makgeolli Sprite ($12 single, $19 double). The cocktails were refreshing after the meats and fried dishes, and the flavours reduced the alcohol taste.
I liked the Kiwi Soju, as well as the Lemon Soju and Yuzu Makgeolli, as they were subtle and not too overpowering. The modern tapas pairings were Makgeolli Mojito, Lemon Soju and red wine.
Inspired by the typically-French dish, the Ginseng Chicken Terrine ($16) consists of spring chicken, dates, ginseng, garlic and ginseng broth. Dipped in a lovely, savoury pine nut sauce, it was flavourful, like a mouthful of concentrated ginseng chicken. It left a strong aftertaste… The vegetables on the side were delicious too.
The mains were the Sarang Meat Lover’s Platter ($42), with an assortment of wine-marinated pork belly, rib eye steak, and honey yuzu chicken arranged artfully in a pan. I especially liked the steak with the house special kimchi sauce, and the scrumptious honey yuzu chicken.
The Spoon Pizza ($8.50) is perfect for the ladies, as it comes with very little dough and is full of ingredients such as bell peppers, onions, cheese and volcanic chicken. The oven-baked pizza gratin is also convenient, as it can be eaten without using one’s hands – just scoop it up with a spoon.
We also tried the Big Bang Bulgogi Burger ($16), which are basically small buns with grilled, seasoned bulgogi beef, caramelised onion, lettuce and tomato and a side of fries with a cheesy dip.
This departed from the usual Bibimbap, and the beef was just right – not too tough or overcooked.
My favourite was the Sarang Nachos ($9.50), which was as scrumptious as it looked even though it is traditionally Mexican fare. It came with generous yellow and brown drizzles of homemade bulgogi sauce, mayonnaise and marinated beef, adding texture
to the otherwise crunchy dish.
The okonomiyaki-style Scallion Pancake ($8.50) gave a fascinating twist to the Japanese dish. It was filled with seafood and bacon, and then drizzled with teriyaki sauce and bonito flakes.
We had Hotteok ($8) for dessert: a sweet pancake filled with warm cinnamon sugar and served with vanilla and raspberry gelato, bringing a comforting, sweet end to the meal.
Republished from Issue 32.