The new East Wing of Shangri-la mall was definitely worth the wait– a handful of restaurants I look forward to trying (or even frequenting) has found a new home in the new wing, making it my next foodie destination.
One afternoon, I had the opportunity to try Woo Galbi Korean House for myself, along with other friends from the blogging community. Located on the 6th floor of Shangri-la’s East Wing, Woo Galbi stood out among the establishments on the same floor. It only took one look at the place for me to feel intimidated by the sophisticated ambiance, making me feel like I would burn a hold through my wallet if I ever chose to dine there. For this, I found the pull-up banners, posters, and the accessible menu in the station in front of the restaurant very helpful in proving myself wrong about my earlier notion.
It had an elegant feel to it as ceramics and china backdropped the heavy use of wood for its tables and chairs. At lunch time, the place started filling in with people, mostly families, and even Korean couples who looked like they were returning customers. With the number of Korean restaurants in the metro, the only way to tell where the good Korean food is is to follow the ones who know their Korean food by heart.
For the uninitiated in Korean cuisine, the experience of reading a menu with majority of the dishes unfamiliar to you might leave you confused and force you to choose the dishes that look familiar to you. For those who are afraid to try new dishes, there’s Bibimbap (in two variants: Bulgogi Beef Bibimbap and Jeyuk Bibimbap), Japchae, and rolls which is very similar to Japanese sushi or maki. Other than that, expect unlimited refills of Banchan, or side dishes, to keep you busy while you wait for your orders.
Compared to other Korean restaurants, Woo Galbi has made the Bibimbap experience more enticing to try by providing the customer choices, from the dish (choice of Hot Stone, Fresh Greens, and Woo’s Rice), type of Rice (Red Rice or White Rice), ten toppings to choose from, and the sauce (Ponzu or citrus soy sauce, Gochujang or Korean Chili, Sesame dressing, or Ssam Bulgogi Sauce). All Bibimbap dishes are priced at Php 420.
Despite my strong aversion for rice (I kid), I had a hard time resisting that afternoon. After being presented all these tasty-looking rolls that oozed with filling and sauce from every corner, there really isn’t anything left to do but to stuff my mouth with the next delicious roll I sight. Their rolls offer a different experience from the usual Japanese food fare, so if you’re getting a little tired of the ordinary sushi, Woo Galbi has a variety of rolls to get you excited again.
Aside from the mouthwatering rolls, here were some of the dishes that stood out for me:
The Oyster Pajeon reminded me of Binondo’s Oyster Cake sold at the Estero. To some degree, it also resembled the Japanese okonomiyaki. Combined with Woo Galbi’s special sauce, this is a great choice of dish to whet the appetite.
The Beef Belly wrap sampler is one of the inexpensive dishes to try at Woo Galbi. It’s basically grilled beef belly stuffed with greens and wrapped in soft tortilla. It’s easy to consume since it’s bite-sized, and will keep you asking for more.
The Tofu steak comprised of five pieces of pan fried tofu swimming in their special sauce. Of all the starters, this has got to be the one to try, mainly because of how well it was cooked that did not make you feel you were devouring tofu at all. Plus, the sauce was just perfect for everything.
For the unabashed meat-lover, Woo Galbi’s All Beef Platter has got to be one of the dishes you have to look forward to trying! It’s comprised of hanging tenders and Bone-in and boneless short ribs, with a serving size huge enough to be shared by six to eight! Yes, I honestly think that the serving size is huge, unless you belong to a group of four extremely hungry people. It can be eaten with rice, or wrapped with lettuce leaves, just like with the Ssam wrap. Also, it’s swimming in sweet teriyaki sauce (not oil!), and propped on top of a small stove to keep it warm for the rest of the meal.
If the name hasn’t given it away yet, Ramyeon is the Korean version of Ramen, and Woo Galbi’s offering an Eat-all-you-can Ramyeon treat from 2 PM – 5 PM, Mondays- Saturdays for only Php 250. This is a great deal to take advantage of, since most bowls of ramen/ korean noodle dishes in the metro are priced the same for one bowl. The Ramyeon comes in two flavors: Ojing-o (squid) & Jeyuk (pork). Take your pick and slurp away!
I’m happy to know (and to share with you guys) that Woo Galbi is one of the most affordable Korean restaurants in Manila (and I certainly hope it stays that way!). Plus, if there’s anything in the menu you want but you’re not familiar with, Woo Galbi’s helpful staff will help you familiarize yourself with which dishes to try. If all the rolls and the meat overload in this post did not get you excited about Woo Galbi, then I don’t know what will.-HANA