Insadong arrives in Singapore

Unique Insadong Eats Are Now Available At Resorts World Sentosa

 

Insadong Korea Town
Insadong Korea Town

 
Named after a very popular tourist district in Seoul, Insadong Korea Town attempts to bring the K-buzz into Resorts World Sentosa.

Insadong Korea Town’s decorations are a hotchpotch of textures, from brick-face to timbre pillars and table, copious use of the Korean flag’s colours to iconic Korean masks. The unique Korean laughing head totems also give this place a dynamic urban amusement park feeling. As eclectic as its decorations, Insadong Korea Town offers over 200 types of dishes from traditional Korean to Korean mixed with Chinese, Japanese and Western influences. With such a diversity, hits and misses are expected.

 

Order at the Kiosk

Don’t expect a typical dining experience. Guests order from a few kiosks at the entrance. When the food is ready, pick them up at any of the Korean, Korean-Chinese, Japanese & Western stations within its 6,000 sq ft space. The pay-first-pick-up-later concept isn’t new, and the trend continues to grow. However, placing your order in front of an ATM-like kiosk is novel in Singapore. Commonly used in Japan and Korea in low-cost, fast-turnaround eateries, these kiosks keep prices low. Nevertheless, I’d imagine customers, spending easily between $20 to $40 per head, would prefer friendly service staff.

 

Korean Classics

 

Korean Boiled Pork Wrap
Korean Boiled Pork Wrap

 
The fun and casual atmosphere at Insadong is perfect match for street fare such as Toppoki (Korean rice cakes, $6), Kimchi Pancake ($10), and Bossam (Korean Boiled Pork Wrap, $15/Small $25/Big). Although the rice cakes were tasty, the kimchi pancakes were a tad oily and soggy. The boiled pork slices in the Bossam were dry around the edges — the type of dryness that comes from reheating pre-cooked pork.

 

Watermelon Soju
Watermelon Soju

 
Insadong also serves a modern Korean specialty: Watermelon Soju ($30), a powerful alcoholic beverage with an alcoholic content between 16 per cent to 45 per cent, mixed with watermelon juice, and served from a watermelon bowl. It’s a summertime drink that’s perfect any time in tropical Singapore.

 

Korean-Chinese Options

An attempt at fusion food is risky. The synthesis of two great sets of flavours from different ethnicities seldom guarantees a great new dish. Insadong’s Xiao Long Bao in Kimchi Soup ($13) is an example. I love xiao long bao and kimchi but the combination of bao floating in the diluted spiciness of the kimchi soup didn’t mix well for me.

 

Xiao Long Bao in Kimchi soup.
Xiao Long Bao in Kimchi Soup

 

Top Korean Hits at Insadong

Even though the previous dishes were so-so, the Ginseng Chicken Soup ($29), Beef Bulgogi Baked Rice ($15), Mushroom Beef Bulgogi Hotpot ($36; with added beef/chicken, $40) were really something to shout about. The Ginseng Chicken Soup was tasty, and lightly “herbal” in flavour. The chicken was soft and tender, and it was nicely balanced with the broth.

 

Insadong-resorts-world-sentosa-2015-11
Ginseng Chicken Soup – nicely balanced and tasty

 

The Mushroom Beef Bulgogi Hotpot with added beef was a beauty: A towering mountain of raw red beef surrounded by a plethora of mixed mushrooms on top of a bed of rice noodles simmering in a hotpot. It got even better when Oh Myoungsuk Emily, Chef of Insadong, started to mixed the Beef Bulgogi Baked Rice into the hotpot! As she combined the two, the cheesy baked rice congealed within the hotpot, creating a thick porridge. It was beautiful and tasted wonderful.

The whole meal ended with the popular, fun-to-eat Korean J-cone Ice Cream ($6) made from corn paste, which is extruded and baked simultaneously into a hollow J-shaped cone, then filled with soft-serve vanilla ice cream.

 

Teething pains?

Unless you live on Sentosa, going to Resorts World just for Korean food isn’t practical unless the restaurant offers something distinct. For me, Insadong is a go-to place for its Korean hotpot and baked rice combo, and the J-cone would be a nice finish. Several weeks later, I decided to return for lunch with my family after I convinced them of how good the hotpot and J-cone were. To my disappointment, Insadong’s hotpot for lunch was “out of stock”! I asked how this could be at noon. The staff said that they hadn’t received the ingredients from the central kitchen. Ok, since we were there, let’s at least try the J-cone. OMG! Out of stock as well!

I suppose I’ll still return at future date, but I’d first call to ask.

 
Insadong Korea Town, 26 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098138, Tel: 6238 8221

By Frank Young
 

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