Travel: Our Macau/Hong Kong Getaway (6D/6N)!

Follow our 6 day, 6 night adventure in these lands of amazing food, awesome culture and astounding sights. See how we ate, shopped and laughed our way through Macau and Hong Kong! :)

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Food: Bulgogi Brothers @ Pavilion, KL

Previously, we have blogged about a place called Sister's Kitchen. But don't think only the women can cook; now there's a new Korean place in town - Bulgogi Brothers! And thanks to the kind folk at Chaswood Group and RAPR Mileage Communications, we were given the chance to sample a few of the dishes that makes Bulgogi Brothers special. =)

If I were to tell you the place Bulgogi Brothers first opened in Korea a year ago, it would have sounded close to foreign to Malaysians, or anyone around the globe for that matter. Today however, it means more to you when I say that the first branch opened in Gang-Nam in 2006. Yes, the same place PSY sings about.

The Bulgogi Brothers restaurants have garnered a huge following in its homeland, even being filming locations for some K-dramas, largely due to its great food and ambiance. Now, we finally get to experience some of its contemporary charm as the brand makes its way to our shores! (Branches are found in Pavilion and Paradigm Mall, with two more coming soon at Mid Valley and The Curve.)

Though the branch in Pavilion isn't large, there's plenty of communal booths for big groups as well as for two, and we also spotted a private room that looks great for big groups. We like the design of the place, which includes custom-made tables that were brought over all the way from South Korea

Why did it have to be custom made? Besides having special built-in induction cookers that react only to the right pots placed on top and high quality cutlery, each table also has a special sliding drawer that holds all the cutlery. Not to mention the all-important WiFi password, that is labeled on a piece of paper stuck on the corner of the drawer. Take note if you ever make a trip to Bulgogi Brothers! =D

The first thing we were served when we sat down was this snack of steamed edamame, corn and sweet potatoes. The first thought that came into my head was "Oh look, farmer's food" while Wendy dug right in - though the steamed items preserved their natural sweetness very well, it wasn't my thing. 

After that came the Korean "appetizers", otherwise known as banchan which fared better for me. We were given 6 different types including kimchikangkung, pickled lotus root, mashed sweet potato and pumpkin amongst others. All these are refillable, and are automatically given at no charge to customers! It's a nice touch from Bulgogi Brothers, since I'm sure no one likes to see hidden charges or charges that can't be avoided. They change the banchan from time to time (though I'm sure kimchi is a staple) so you can expect new things to try next visit. =)

If we had  to pick a favourite, I would say the mashed sweet potato, simply because it was the most unique of the lot. Whoever knew sweet potato and pumpkins could make such a fine mash! It was smooth, not too filling, and had a slightly sweet flavour. We had to control ourselves from having more. Wendy also liked the  fresh crunchy kimchi, saying it wasn't too spicy nor too sharply sour.

And it was a good thing we practised self-control, because there was no time to waste when the first dish arrived - the Haemul Pajeon (RM 27.90). You'd be forgiven for thinking it looks like a pizza, because it does look very much alike. There's no cheese or tomato base though, so I suppose it's more like a pancake than a pizza. =)

This pancake was topped full of a mix of prawns, mussels and squid, not to mention a generous helping of green onions too! We were impressed with the generous amount of seafood - fresh and springy, with the onions adding a little sweetness to the whole mix. I did feel the texture pancake as a whole was a bit thick and moist; I would have preferred it slightly drier and crispier.

It took awhile for the next dish to arrive, so we had to control ourselves not to eat too much banchan or all of the pancake! It was well worth it though, because the next dish was Seoulsik Bulgogi (RM 52.90 for 300g), a broth dish of beef marinated in their special apple & pear bulgogi sauce, with enoki mushrooms, leeks and onions, and glass noodles too.

While the abundance of vegetables looks intimidating to a carnivore like me, it actually isn't as bad as it looks. The helpful staff will do all the cooking, some of them having spent months in a Bulgogi Brothers branch in Korea for training, so don't worry if you don't know what to do.

This turned out to be our favourite dish of the night, simply because the broth was so fruity and full of beef flavour, while the meat itself was very well marinated. Bulgogi is our usual order when we have Korean and Bulgogi Brothers really seem to have perfected the recipe! If not for a list of other dishes to come, we would have just ordered some rice to mop up all the broth for a satisfying meal for two.

Don't fancy the Seoul version of bulgogi? Bulgogi Brothers also offer many variations of savory bulgogi, which actually means 'fired meat', where traditionally, marinated meat is grilled by the tableside for celebrations back in the day.

The arrival of the Chadol Baki (RM 32.90), a grand arrangement of seasoned beef brisket and bean sprouts, meant it was time to fire our 'grill' up!

Again, staff will gladly volunteer to cook the food for you. This is highly recommended since there are proper steps to follow which we laymen would probably have messed up anyway. The first step is to cook the onion, followed by the bean sprouts fried evenly; very important because there is so much! You'd be forgiven for thinking it looks a lot like Japanese Teppanyaki - that's what we thought too.

An appreciated addition was the simple pan cover that surrounds the pan, protecting customers against hot oil splashes! Bulgogi Brothers really has it all thought out. =D

The final product is wonderful bite-sized chunks of beef, well marbled with fat. It may be too much fat with your meat for some of you to handle, Wendy included. Fat aside, we loved the taste of the beef; though the grilling had it grilled to medium well, it was still largely tender, and had a great smoky flavour to it.

If the bean sprouts aren't enough vegetables for you, there's also lettuce, carrots, cucumber and some dipping sauce served separately. The beef can be wrapped in the lettuce, besides eating it with rice, but I thought it was good enough with rice.. =P

This is called Janchi Guksu (RM 17.90) which is otherwise known as the "party noodles" in Korea. Served in seafood broth complemented by lots of vegetables, this is something suitable for the person that's cutting back on red meat. That doesn't mean it's any less tasty though; the seafood broth was clear and sweet thanks to the seafood & vegetables, and we were glad not to have our tongues itching with thirst after because of an abundance of MSG. Another secret ingredient? A dash of kimchi in the noodles! With that little addition, it adds a good 'kick' to the whole noodle dish, earning it more points in our books.

Served at the same time as the party noodles was this Haemul Doenjang Jjigae (RM 26.90) with shrimps and soft shell crab, enabling us to make a good comparison of the two.

The difference between the party noodles and this doenjang (soybean) stew was like chalk and cheese! While the seafood broth was clear and mild, this stew had much spicier and stronger flavours, akin to Japanese miso. Since I'm the type that doesn't like bland food, I preferred this slow-cooked stew. Wendy on the other hand preferred the clear seafood broth. I think it's safe to say there really is something for everyone at Bulgogi Brothers.

By the time we finished all the above, we had eaten enough food to feed us 3 times over! But the end only came after the final dish of the night - Chicken Bibimbab (RM 26.90). For the uninformed (and as we just learnt that night), bibim means mixed in Korean, while bab means rice.

The rice and all its colourful toppings are then mixed in the hot pot, resulting in a melting pot of textures. The chicken is spicily delightful as are the julienned vegetables adeptly prepared, but we do wish there was more meat and less vegetables. Wendy thinks too much of the latter causes a lot of water to be emitted during the cooking process, leading the bibimbab to be a little wetter than usual. Perhaps next time, we'll allow it to be cooked longer to avoid this. Credit must be given for the perfect egg yolk served, though - such a lovely sight!

With all that good food, there has to be good drink to wash it down! We got to try a special drink here, namely the Pineapple Makguli Cocktail (RM 27.90), a really refreshing concoction of traditional milky rice wine mixed with pineapple liqueur. A strawberry version is also available. Here, the pineapple tones down the pungent rice wine a lot, making it very pleasant to drink; a great marriage of flavours. We're calling this the Asian Malibu. =P

Diners also get free tea of the day, ours was the Oksusu Cha (corn) - we were amazed at the strong corn aroma as they poured the tea out of the flask. Others tea of the day varieties also include buckwheat & brown rice.

Not a teetotaler? Bulgogi Brothers sell some interesting varieties of Korean liquor here like the Bokbunjajoo (RM 58.50), wine made from raspberry and the Seouljungmae Gold (RM 66.50), made out of plums. The latter was particularly interesting, because gold flecks can be found in the bottle, like those snow globes. Would make great gifts, we think.

The only dessert on the menu is an assortment of Korean ice cream (RM 5.90), less sweeter than its Western counterparts.

To cap off this review, it certainly was a good and fulfilling night out at Bulgogi Brothers. The outlet ventilation was surprisingly impressive; we stepped out after all that grilling and barbecuing smelling clean unlike other Korean BBQ places. The food was excellent and service was polite and helpful, both of which we hope to see maintained on a day to day basis. This place will be going onto our list of places to revisit with friends and family because the best food here must be shared! =)

*Full set of photos found on our Facebook page here.

Bulgogi Brothers | Site
Opposite Wong Kok Char Chan Teng
Lot 6.01.03, Level 6,
Pavilion Shopping Mall
No. 168, Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +6 03 2141 9620
Fax: +6 03 2141 9621
Opening Hours: 11am-11pm

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