Sunday, 28 July 2013

Mia's Review: Sarang Korean Bistro

A while ago, finaldust gave us some vouchers at the korean restaurant he worked part time for and recommended us to a couple of good dishes there. Initially we planned to have a small girls' outing but nobody really took the idea with much thought until it was too late (vouchers expiring end of this month, yikes!), and so.... it was left with SL and me. And yup, we went to Sarang Korean Bistro, located at level 7 of Orchard Central.

A badly taken picture of the restaurant. 
The place is quite nice, with two sections to the restaurant, one air-conditioned and one outdoor (as seen in the picture), both generously packed with tables and chairs. It was vastly different from what I read/seen from older online/blog reviews about the place. Turned out Sarang has recently renovated the place and revamped their menu as well that gave me a second surprise, which I shall get to it later on. 
SL and I reached the place at about 6.15pm and we were told by the restaurant usher/greeter that they're fully reserved for the day, and can only squeeze out a table that they will need it back by 7.15pm. We took the offer without a second thought. No matter what, the vouchers must be spent! 
We were then ushered into the restaurant, through a glass door clearly labelled 'manual sliding door' using masking tape and teen-girly scribbles with a blue marker, to the air-conditioned section of the restaurant and then further in to a small table for two at a cramped corner. The next table lies just inches away, the space in between just enough for a grown adult to wedge through. I can only say, Sarang has really fully maximised their restaurant place and yet still cannot fully accomodate their walk-in customers.

Knowing that we only have 1 hour to spare, SL and I were quick to look through the menu and I got a shock. Items are pricey, unlike what I've read on the reviews online. Turned out that when Sarang revamped the menu, they had also "upgraded" their prices with the consideration of the renovated environment.

 My cold Yuja Cha (Citron Tea), $6.80.
Yes, it's just a small mug of it. Pretty much felt like a rip-off. The taste is a little bit more to the bland side, for I've tried much strong yuja cha elsewhere. The only good thing is that it wasn't too sweet. Some places serves yuja cha that are so horribly sweet it leaves a "sweet film" on your teeth after drinking it. 
And for the oatmeal cookie served together with the tea, I really don't understand it. This is the first time I'm served yuja cha with a cookie and frankly speaking the tastes don't compliment each other like how English tea biscuit goes well with black tea or how biscotti goes well with coffee. 
It was definitely a head-scratching moment as I took a sip of the yuja cha after one bite of the biscuit. 

And you can see the pathetic tray of side dishes behind my tea. Yup, that's all that was served. I have no idea if it's refillable, but even if it is, the variety is also pathetically little compared to a more authentic or traditional korean restaurant. Taste wise, nothing fantasic & nothing bad. Mediocre. The kimchi was okay, not too sour and still pretty crunchy. The black beans was rather hard to chew down on (I wonder if they're cooked) and my teeth hurt after a while. The corn was... well, just corn. As I've said, mediocre was the perfect description.

And then now for two more pictures to make me feel that my yuja cha was a total rip-off.
SL's orange juice, $5.80

The amount of preserved yuja I found in my tea. I do remember sucking up a bit more with my straw, but heck! It's still a miserable amount compared to the yuja cha served pretty much everywhere else.

And moving on to our main courses for the evening....
 Army Stew (Bu Dae Jji Gae), $32 + 2 (for ramyun noodles, pathetic 1 serving)

Okonomiyaki-Style Korean Scallion Pancake, can't really remember the exact price of it but I reckon it was about $7-9. Do note that the sauce dish is just a normal sized sauce dish. Yes, I'm once again hinting about the food serving size.

Being a Korean foodie (I LURVE KOREAN FOOD!), I really cannot dislike the taste of the food, especially the army stew. For those who wonders what on earth is army stew, I can only describe in a very layman's term that it's basically kimchi stew (kimchi, pork belly, tofu, rice cake) added on with luncheon meat & sausages. It tastes perfect with the added on ramyun, and will also be awesome with a bowl of steaming white rice. I absolutely loved the luncheon meat, tofu and oyster mushrooms, for these had absorbed a good amount of the stew soup. A bite into them will release the sourish spicy goodness in the mouth, awesome. Same goes for the rice cake, which reminded me a bit of the authentic deokbokgi selling on the streets in Korea (minus the subtle sweetness). The sausages weren't as good, though. It would have been better if they've just used the normal chicken franks, but I guess to justify the price tag of $32 dollars, Sarang used a more expensive alternative of the black pepper chicken sausage, which not only is tougher but the black pepper taste also didn't really go too well with the stew. The tiny pieces of pork belly swimming around in the stew was also overcooked and tough. The radish and ramyun was also not too fantastic as the latter was overcooked (soggy) while the radish was undercooked (tough). It's even more disappointing for the radish as it has the potential to be as heavenly as the oyster mushroom, tofu and luncheon meat. Radish is the perfect vegetable for stew, and they just had to kill it. 

Sorry for saying this, but I got to take off another 2 brownie points for the pathetic amount of ingredients and the price tag. I seem to enjoy as much luncheon meat, sausages & kimchi (maybe even more) when I ate bu dae jji gae at MANNA, located at most Kopitiam foodcourt. On their good days, the soup will be thicker and even more flavourful than what I had at Sarang. The best part of it is that I will only need to pay $7 and will even be given an extra bowl of rice and equal amount of kimchi as my side dish.

The scallion pancake seemed to go quite well with SL, but not for me. I guess I would have enjoyed a kimchi pancake more, but that's really besides the point. 
The pancake was rather thick and chewy (which sadly, makes the ONLY plus point), stuffed FULL of scallions with very little seafood (I only managed to find half a shrimp in the amount I ate, twice. Perhaps SL was luckier.), and topped with a generous amount of katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and mayonnaise. I'm not sure if I'm unlucky or what, but I keep getting pieces choked full with the lower end part of the scallion, which I absolutely hate. The amount of katsuobushi was way too much and overwhelming, killing the whole idea & taste of a korean pancake. I mean, yes I know it's okonomiyaki-style, but it's still a korean pancake I've ordered. To cut my long story short, I've ordered a Korean pancake (or at least I thought so) and was served an Okonomiyaki. It's still tasty, yes. But it just didn't make the cut. 

Doesn't get it? Imagine that you've ordered a korean kimchi ramyun, but what came to your table was Japanese miso ramen. That's the whole idea. It definitely won't be a pleasant feeling, regardless of how tasty the miso ramen is. Because what you wanted to eat was kimchi ramyun. 

Actually there's still the japchae and heotteok, which I really wanted to try, along with a cute mini burger that both SL and I totally got excited about by just seeing it. But I guess I'll have to give it a harder thought about revisiting Sarang without vouchers. My take is that they do serve decent food, but it's really easy to get the same elsewhere, at much lower prices. 

So is the new Sarang a go or no go? Comment below and share your thoughts with me. 

Till then,


  1. sounds bad, I would be okay to try the restaurant if quality of the food is good despite the small serving. but from what you've described, it seems like nothing at all is worth the price tag?
    luckily Dresden n I couldn't make it, otherwise no seats for 4 and cannot utilise the voucher/appreciate finaldust's good gesture liao!

  2. ops sorry >.< seem like it is a bad choice *shutup

  3. @oyhz the food is not bad, but it's not worth the price we have to pay for. I'll rather pay quarter the price to have the same quality of food at some hole in the wall.

    @finaldust you can dine there on staff price/foc previously?

  4. There is no staff price :( but they would give me some free foods whenever I dine there. Even my friends who go dine there when i am working enjoy benefits too.

  5. I know I`m cheap, but isn`t it all better to make the food at home ??
    (*32$ is too much for only one (1) dish...) Oh, and sure 6.80 $ Is most likely the cost of bringing the non local variety, and the refrigerator working ... right ?! Yet, even if you buy yuju-cha and store it at home, you`d expect to pay less.


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