The best Korean restaurants in Makati
There is a Korean invasion, everybody knows that. Everywhere you look today, you’ll either see a Korean, or something written in Korean. One thing glad that they brought along with them is their food, and if you like Korean food as well, let me help you in your quest for the best one out there.
There’s a place somewhere in the middle of Poblacion in Makati (somewhere near seedy Burgos Street and Makati Ave.) where the koreans are thriving like mushrooms, they have their own community in there woven together with the locals. Convenience stores, karaoke bars, video shops, the works. And most importantly, the restaurants, namely Min Sok and Manna Korea Gaden. There is another one adjacent to these two, and collectively, I call them the Korean triad because they’ve just really nailed it, and they’re within fifty meters of each other. I just forgot the name, dammit, so I’ll write a separate entry on it once I get to visit again.
Alright, all of these restaurants are in one place: Don Pedro St., Polacion Makati. You turn a corner somewhere if you’re coming from Rockwell (the road between Rockwell and Bel-air), after the street where Soms is, but not quite reaching the corner where there’s midget boxing (Burgos, I believe). It might not be the most accurate, but I hope the map below helps.
Korean food is not something that you taste and you suddenly go “wow, i can eat this forever”. It needs to be force-fed to you a few times before you could learn to appreciate it, and eventually, be addicted to it. It’s sort of like the ugly suitor with the heart of gold.
5655 Don Pedro St., Poblacion, Makati City
(approx. P900 for 2-3 people)
I’ve been to Min Sok before, my former boss Carla treated us to this place, she was just raving about it. I remember finding the little plates of condiments so cute, filling up the whole table. I got drunk on a combination of Soju and Gokbunjajoo (raspberry wine?), and I remember wanting to drink more so Ged and I ended up at Sencillo in Esquinita where I ended up crying over god knows what.
Anyhoo, I didn’t eat Korean food for a long time after that, thinking that yeah it was oh-kay, but I wasn’t really looking for it– it wasn’t something I absolutely MUST have. But then when I met H, he turned out to be really crazy about Korean food and vowed to take me somewhere at the bowels of Makati to this GREAT Korean Restaurant (he couldn’t remember the name). So one day we walked out there and as we stood outside the resto, it dawned on me that this is the exact same place Carla has taken us to before. I still didn’t appreciate it very much that second time, but as the weeks went by and H had to periodically satisfy his addiction (of course I had to tag along), I began to appreciate it more and more.
The best way to describe Min Sok is no-nonsense. Just good food and basic surroundings. The place is owned by a Korean couple (Wilma Kim), its probably what the original Soms (which incidentally is walking distance from it) is to Thai food. They don’t scrimp on the condiments, they will add more if you request for it. The meats are a good value for around 300-500 per order (enough to fill two hungry people). The kimchi soup is HOT though, take note, sometimes I think they go haywire with the chili, but thats not necessarily a bad thing. It’s also a bonus that the owners know us by face so we get a nice hello and goodbye and how are you from them at the door.
MANNA KOREA GARDEN
Don Pedro St., Poblacion, Makati City
Tel. no. 897-6799
(Around P1,000 for 2-3 people)
Now roughly every two weeks, I need to get my Korean fix as well. We alternate between Min Sok and the other newer resto, but last week we decided to get Manna Korea Garden a try. We’ve always passed by the place but it just seemed a little fancy from the outside, which turned us off. The interior was a bit unimpressive with the clinical lighting, loud-ish TV and aquarium, but mind you the food was great, almost at par with Min Sok. I think the condiments were better, especially my favorite pickled radish, because it was grated and not tennis ball sized.
We always have the same things, the tried and tested orders: Chadolbaki (thin beef strips to be grilled) which we eat wrapped in lettuce leaves, kimchi soup, and dolsot bibimbap (rice medley on a sizzling pot). The Kimchi soup was good, but I thought it was weaker than the other two restos, and I like it with stronger flavor. The bibimbap, i thought it was the same, but hands down the condiments were better. The chadolbaki here was more expensive at 500 per order, but i thought i could have easily fed four people really.
Overall, I think this is two of the best Korean places ever. I’ve tried eating at some restos at Don Antonio but they just don’t compare. Kaya is also good, but I just find it a bit watered down. I choose Min Sok as the best of the three places, because it seems to be the one prepared with reckless abandon, not to mention being surrounded by all those Koreans (it’s always packed!) gives it a truly authentic feeling.