Sariwon Korean Barbecue: An Authentic Korean Culinary Place

One observation which I've not mentioned in my previous blog posts is the proliferation of Korean restaurants in the Philippines, specifically Metro Manila. I thought "Pinoys" have learned to love the Korean "wave" taking into account the growing acceptance of their culture as seen in the "koreanovela" and k-pop" shows which are popular to the viewing public. Not only that, Korean made products and fashion trends are visible and marketed in Korean-owned Manila based grocery stores and on-line. June also mentioned that even Eat Bulaga's Aldub Dance in Kalye serye "Fantastic Baby" is from Big Bang, a famous South Korean pop band. Thus, it's not surprising anymore that we have authentic Korean restos in Manila serving Korean cuisine lovers.

 Fantastic Baby by Big Bang (G-Dragon, T.O.P.,  Seungri, Taeyang and Daesung)

One of these authentic Korean restaurants in Manila is Sariwon Korean Barbecue (Sariwon for short). It was All Soul's Day when the family had a great bonding (after offering prayers for our departed loved ones) at BGC's Sariwon Korean Barbecue located at 7th Avenue, West Superblock Bonifacio High Street Central. That was my 2nd time to spend a day in this Korean restaurant.

Sariwon Korean Barbecue at BGC

Based on the web's description of the restaurant, Sariwon was first established by a grandmother, Mrs. Bun-Im-Koo, who hailed from Sariwon, North Korea and that's where this Korean resto chain got its name. I understand Sariwon Korean Barbecue resto branches in Manila are local franchises of a famous restaurant chain in Korea. Based on accounts, Manila's Sariwon owners even imported a Korean chef to assure its guest customers that the cooking strategies in preparing the food are genuine "Korean".

Sariwon is not a typical restaurant we see that has contemporary and colorful furniture and decor. When I first see the place, I thought there was something rustic feel inside. like a quaint place in in Korea, but with a modern twist to it! The table, chairs and sofa are in dark brown colors, simple wall decors and white "round" chandelier-like lightings installed above each tables.

As we were about 12 in the group, we were ushered by the staff to three, 4-seater table which were closely connected to each other so our small "talks" and "laughter" can be heard by each one of us! As expected in Korean resto, each table has a built-in grill top which can be used depending on one's order.

While waiting for the main dishes, we were served with 6 kinds of "banchans" or appetizers, which is typical in a Korean dining place. Among the banchans, I liked most the green salad and the mashed squash ball (looked and tasted like mashed potato and sweet potato or"camote"), and the hot house "corn" tea which were refillable once guests request for more! As usual, Kimchi wasn't a favorite of mine, maybe because of its tanginess and spiciness. But to make my Korean dining experience authentic, I forced myself to try a bit of it.

Sariwon's banchans or appetizer

We ordered three Value Set Menu good for 3 to 4 pax (1 value set is P1,800) consisting of Yangneum Buchaesal, Dak Galbi, Haemul Pajeon, Sariwon Bulgogi and Dolsot Bibimbap.

Yangneum Buchaesal, a flavorful, marinated USDA choice top blade steak grilled at the table, which can be eaten wrapped in green lettuce.

Yangneum Buchaesal

Dak Galbi is a grilled boneless chicken marinated overnight in a secret spice sauce for that tangy taste.

Dak Galbi

Sariwon's Bulgogi served as the highlight of our dining experience. The meat was freshly prepared and thinly sliced which was placed in a table-top cooker. Thereafter, the staff poured a different kind of hot broth especially prepared for this dish, followed by the sweet potato noodles and veggies which were placed on the sides of the cooker. I understand the hot broth is made of 12 different kinds of fruits and vegetables and mixed with red wine. Wow, no wonder the taste turned out to be authentic Korean!

Sariwon Bulgogi (not yet cooked)

Sariwon Bulgogi (cooked) Silky thin slices of fresh USDA choice beef grilled with broth at the table

One healthy, non-meat option which I also loved was the Korean pancake "Haemul Pajeon", a bit crunchy on the outside and soft in the inside, quite similar to our "okoy", made of squash, shrimps and beansprouts.

Haemul Pajeon, a traditional Korean pancake made with squid, shrimp, mussels, and green onion

The complimentary dessert drink called "Sikhye" completed our meal escapade at Sariwon. It was quite sweet to me tho, somewhat like "sago at gulaman" but it looked unique and interesting! I was told that the said drink is nutritious, a healthy alternative of sodas and fruit juices as it is made of malt and rice.


Aside from the complimentary dessert we also had Citrus Herb Juice (P150) and Patbingsoo (P180).

Citrus Herb Juice / Patbingsoo, a Korean shaved iced dessert with red bean

Generally, the group looked satisfied and happy after leaving Sariwon, which only means that the authentic Korean food at Sariwon satisfied their Asian palates!

As such, ton of thanks to the generous couple during that day! Free treats pa more! Hahaha!

Till next time,
Written by Maven
Photographs by June

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An Interesting Culinary Trip to Yoree!

Yoree may sound a Japanese name but I'm referring actually to the newly opened branch of a Korean restaurant called Yoree Korean Barbeque Dining in Molito. For our international-based friends, if you happen to visit the Philippines and stayed in the Alabang area, Molito is a relatively new dining complex located at Madrigal Avenue, corner Commerce Avenue in Alabang, Muntinlupa, and it is just across the Alabang Town Center (ATC).

awesome meal from Yoree

Anyway, we were gallivanting around ATC when June's HB challenged us to dine and try Yoree's way of preparing Korean dishes. We have been to other Korean dining places in Metro Manila but since this is a newly opened Yoree branch around the Alabang area, we accepted the challenge! I really don't mind spending more hours at Yoree as I've learned to love Korean cuisine during the past few years.

From the ATC area, there is a lane reserved for pedestrians going to Molito. As it was quite early when we arrived (the restaurants normally opens at 6pm for dinner time), we had to entertain ourselves with the dancing fountain on the park grounds, listening to the music orchestra comforting ourselves on the benches and tables with umbrella tents.

The time came for us to enter Yoree. The staff greeted us with a resounding "Annyeong Haseyo" (안녕하세요) which means "Hello" in Korean! It sounded like "Anong sayo"? Hahaha. I am quite a critical person particularly when it comes to cleanliness, service and food quality, particularly if there is an accompanying price to it! My eyes were rolling, but in fairness, my first impression on the resto was excellent. I liked the elegant and hip vibe of the atmosphere inside, the staff's way of treating guests, how they looked spic and span and its clean environment.

yoree restaurant

We were seated quite near the entrance door so we had the perfect view of who were coming in and out of the restaurant. Not that bad, as we were able to respond to the "smiles" of the country's concert king, "Martin Nieverra" when he entered Yoree's door together with a friend.

Just like other authentic Korean restaurants, Yoree's dining table has its own heating plate and grill but we opted not to avail of it at that time and instead we requested for the cook staff be the one to do the grilling and cooking for us using the restaurant's main kitchen.

Yoree has a wide list of Korean dishes in its menus. June's HB took charge of ordering the food. He was the one to foot the bill, anyway! But before the main entree was served, we were given a small bowl of  "Juk" or a Korean congee together with a bunch of "banchans" or appetizers which can be refilled, depending on your wants. This is what I liked in a Korean restaurant as you get a chance to have a taste of some small portions of Korean side dishes, which include the world renowned popular "Kimchi" and the sweet and spicy anchovies.

juk korean porridge
Juk (Korean Porridge)
korean side dishes
Yoree side dishes

One interesting to note that when the main dish was served, there was an accompanying some kind like a vase filled with greens, different kinds of lettuce. Then followed by other food such as  Japchae, Galbijjim and Woo Samgyeop. Then we had a juice which capped off our sumptuous meal!

Japchae (P198) Sauteed beef and vegetables with sweet potato noodles cooked "papillote" style

Galbijjim (P598) Popular Korean stew made with USDA Choice Beef Short Rib with carrots and radish

woo samgyeop
Woo Samgyeop (P398) Sliced USDA Choice Beef Belly, brushed with sweet soy sauce topped with spring onions

3 kinds of sauces

But what made my culinary trip to Yoree interesting was the 3 white rolled thing placed on a small platter, which appeared like a solid sugar or salt or a white mint candy. It really caught my attention. Good I didn't touch and devour it. (Laughing out loud)! The excitement went deeper when the staff poured water on it, and voila the white square like things expanded like budding tulips and turned out to be "moist white towelettes"! I thought that was magic and interesting!

Jalmokegotsumnida  (잘 먹었습니다)! 

Yoree Molito
Molito Commercial Complex, Alabang, Muntinlupa City

Yoree BGC
FORUM G/F 7th cor 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, 7th Ave, Taguig, Metro Manila

Till next time,
Written by Maven

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Seoul, Korea: Beating the BRRRR!

Okay lovely peeps, so this post maybe super late, but I still hope you all enjoy and discover something from it. Last January, HB and I ventured into two big cities of South Korea - Seoul and Busan. After a 4-hour flight on the plane from Manila, we arrived at Incheon International Airport and decided to take the Airport Limousine Bus bound for Myeongdong. It took us a trip around the city as we dropped off other passengers before arriving to our destination. The drive from the airport to Myeongdong was about an hour. We finally stepped off the last bus and New Year's Eve was just an hour away. The weather was freezing cold for Seoul, but I guess typical of their winter. The highs were around -10 that chilled us to the bone.

We trudged a few blocks in the freezing weather while HB tried to push and drag our heavy luggage. After checking-in at Savoy Hotel and unpacking our things we explored the immediate area like hungry predators hoping for the chance to devour something. 

myeongdong street food stall

myeongdong street food stall
HB, the thorn among the roses :)

eomuk guk
odeng  오뎅 or eomuk guk 어묵국 ( skewered fish cake soup)

hotteok, ddobokki
hotteok 호떡 (Korean sweet pancake) and ddeobokki 떡볶이 (Korean spicy rice cake)
korean mandu
kimchi wang mandu and gogi wang mandu (korean jumbo sized dumplings or buns)

We knew that the city of Korea is known for their amazing street food stalls as I'm an avid fan of Korean movies, dramas and entertainment since 2006, while HB studied his Korean language at KCC - Korean Cultural Center. 

On this particular evening we came super late for food hunting and luckily found a few stalls still open and enjoyed our midnight dinner. We tried ddeobokki 떡볶이also known as tteobokki or topokki (korean spicy rice cake), eomuk guk (어묵국- fish cake soup), hotteok (호떡 Korean sweet pancake), and two kinds of mandu such as kimchi wang mandu and gogi wang mandu  (korean jumbo sized dumplings or buns). It felt good to be eating piping hot food to warm up on a cold winter and beating the brrrr! It was the perfect end of our first day.

Till next time,

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The Pink Panda Atmosphere!

Our one night stay at Y2 Residence Hotel was inclusive of a buffet breakfast. I though the restaurant was part and parcel of the hotel, sort of a signature resto, likewise named "Y2"! It was only when we entered the restaurant and when I saw the print on the side walls that the name of the restaurant is Pink Panda (Southeast Asian Diner)! That was so naive of me!

The gorgeous interiors of the restaurant made my eyes wander from floor to ceiling. The owner has an eclectic taste. The decor is artsy, with a mix of modern and oriental inspired theme and an open concrete ceiling with steel structures and led lights. There were paintings on the wall depicting the so called "Pink Panda Atmosphere", rather odd though as it was hard to reconcile what was the art for, just like the mysterious baby panda with a pink skin covered with a thin coat of white fur! There was al fresco corner where guests can enjoy the chill vibe of the outside environment particularly during night time.

We came a bit late so it was expected that the restaurant was quite filled with hotel's guests already. There was a smell of food throughout the restaurant (mostly from its South Asian food) but we didn't mind it, as it was somewhat compensated by the staff's courteousness and its cool hip atmosphere.

The buffet breakfast was just right, on the average side. There was nothing extraordinary about it, maybe because the variety of choices were the usual breakfast food for Asians like us. The more visible were fried rice, curry rice, tocino, hotdogs, different types of eggs (scrambled, omelette, poach, sunny side up), corned beef, fried dilis, fresh veggie salad, cooked vegetables and bread. Coffee, milk and tea (although limited to lipton), cereals, juices, etc. Surprisingly, there was steamed bananas on the plate.

Unfortunately, the restaurant doesn't have its own comfort room. Guests have to go out and access instead the hotel's spic and span comfort room. The place was also bit dark maybe due to the black walls interior and lighting as well.

Despite the said loopholes, we were satisfied with our complimentary breakfast. Personally, I would still like hangin' out at Pink Panda because of its atmosphere. There was quite a positive vibe on me, probably due to the influence of Y2 Residence Hotel's Yin Yang's philosophy!

By the way, we didn't see Anne Curtis there whom I've learned from the grape vine that she is romantically linked to the part owner of the restaurant, Erwan Heussaff!

Pink Panda Southeast Asian Diner at Y2 Residence Hotel
4687 Santiago Street
cor. Valdez and Singian Streets,
Makati City, Philippines 

Till next time,
Written by Maven and Photographs by June

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The Yin Yang Effect of Y2 Residence Hotel!

When I was informed about a one-night staycation at Y2 Residence Hotel, my first reaction was "Where is it"? Candidly, I've never heard of such place in Metro Manila in my entire stay in the metropolis. I was told that it was actually in Makati City, where business, entertainment and images of frenzied lifestyle are in sight.

My mind continued to work again, with some wild questions hovering around my head. Why is the hotel called Y2? Was it because it was established during the Y2k period? Or is the hotel owner related to Yohji Yamamoto, Japanese famous fashion designer of Y-3 products? Hahaha! But when I "googled" the hotel, I came to know based on their website's logo that the Y2 was based on the Yin-Yang philosophy of balance and harmony. So, that explains its name, which made me more curious to check it out!

buddhist painting
one of the Buddhist framed arts

The hotel was an hour and a half ride from where we are. Even if the hotel is walking distance to Century Mall (about few minutes by car to Rockwell/Power Plant Mall) and other bars and coffee shops, we encountered difficulty locating it as buildings in the neighborhood were like close next to each other. As soon as we approached the lobby, I noticed it was not as grand but just right for a 3-4 star boutique hotel. However, it has unique features, with Buddha framed arts on the wall, also metals and glass all over in an artsy way with the black and white motif already visible.

Y2 Residence Hotel lobby

In the elevator, we were with a company of business travelers from Middle Eastern countries, and so probably I thought the hotel is frequently visited by foreign jaunt lovers from these countries. Unfortunately, the elevator has no lock security measures as anyone can just hop in and maybe roam around the premises. In other hotels, guests are normally given a key card in order to access the elevator.

When I entered the room, I was awed to see the two-bedroom unit reserved by June's hubby as it was quite spacious despite the lack of sophistication of a 5-star luxury hotels. But with the lower price tag, the clean and spacious unit (inclusive of breakfast) turned out to be a bonanza! It has a living room with amenities such as TV, free WiFi and a sleek furniture. It also has a Japanese mural as an accent to the wall.

two-bedroom deluxe
two-bedroom deluxe living room area

On the other side is a decent dining area and on the far end is a fully equipped kitchen with a refrigerator, induction cooker and a microwave. Near the kitchen is another bathroom.

dining area
dining area

fully equipped kitchen

The black and white Yin Yang feature was again utilized inside the unit which flow down to the bedrooms (black and white decors) and bathrooms (black and white tiles). The interiors of the unit has an oriental "Zen" influence to it, with a minimalist theme.

bedroom 1
bedroom 1

bedroom 2
bedroom 2 with TV

bedroom 2 bathroom

The bedrooms were clean with comfortable bed and white soft linens, in contrast to the negative reviews of some of the guests.

But before throwing ourselves onto our beds, we had our dinner first to fill our empty tummies. We ordered food outside and it was delivered on time. Thereafter, the roomy living room provided us a space and the opportunity to stretch our muscles and joints, trying hard the Silento and Twerk It Like Miley dance swaying our shoulders and placing our hands in the air, with the music coming from June's hubby smart phone and a powerful Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker!

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay A2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

the speaker is about the size of a ladies clutch bag :)

We slept soundly, waking up to another brighter day. But before leaving the hotel, we went up the rooftop to see the swimming pool. But my excitement faded as the pool looks like a kiddie pool where only a couple of guests could be accommodated.

swimming pool
rooftop kiddie and adult swimming pools

Good, we had our breakfast first at Y2's Pink Panda Southeast Asian Diner to regain lost energy before climbing up the pool!

So far, the one night stay at Y2 Residence Hotel in Makati was wonderful and quite memorable! Probably, the Yin Yang positive vibe contributed to the joyful moments we had during our stay at the hotel. 

birthday cake

Incidentally, that day was the birthday of a special person, my husband! Thank you very much for the treats my family dears!

Y2 Residence Hotel
4687 Santiago Street
cor. Valdez and Singian Streets,
Makati City, Philippines 

Till next time,
Written by Maven
Photographs by June

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Northern Samar Biri Island's Impressive Rock Formations

I have to say I was skeptical  when I heard them (HB and my nieces) planning to go to Biri Island to see the Rock Formations. Riding on a motorcycle locally named "Habal  habal" is one thing, but a 45-minute  traveling by a pumpboat is a big concern to me. Because I feel like I am suffocating when there's a strong gust of wind.  Needless to say, I was obviously under stressed and sadly been forced  to withdraw from joining them. Believe me strong and lashing wind scares me more than height. (Just to let you know I did survive the Skywalk Extreme in Cebu.) I'm pretty sure most of you don't have to deal with this kind of problem, but for me, it's a tension  hard to deal with. Anyway, I apologize that I've started this post with my worries.

rock formation
one of the rock formations in Biri Island

On to Biri Island, I was so envious when I saw HB's beautiful photographs. Views of different impressive  gigantic rock formations sculpted through time by the savage waves of the Pacific Ocean and massive currents of San Bernardo Strait, and the ocean views are just breathtaking.

Be warned though, there are a gazillion of photos to admire and delight your senses. :)

the pump boat port in Lavezares town taking visitors to Biri Island

Nuestra Señora de Salvacion sculpture positioned 3 kms from the shoreline

inside the pump boat

passengers already get to bask the magnificent view

The island of Biri is located in the northern most tip of the province of Northern Samar, facing the blue sea of the Pacific Ocean to the East and the famous San Bernardino Strait to the West. There are seven impressive rock formations in Biri Island namely Magasang, Magsapad, Macadlaw, Puhunan, Bel-at, Caranas and Pinahahawan.

start of the trek in Biri island

rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations
this dog in Biri Island would follow them wherever they go

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

biri island rock formations

Start to embark on a pump boat ride very early in the morning to avoid relentless big waves. I advise visitors to wear sunglasses and rash guards for sun protection. It was a scorching hot summer day when HB and my nieces visit Biri Island. When they came back late in the afternoon, I was really shocked to see them all super tanned. It was like they stayed there for a month. hahaha!

It is also advisable to bring sunblock, sturdy footwear, a fully-charged digital camera, a hat, towel or sarong (to dry with if you want to swim in the salt water pool). Wear shorts and sandals, since you'll be wading in up to thigh high water to get to some of the rock formations.

After admiring the impressive rock formations, you may want to visit the Biri church sanctuary named Saint Vincent Ferrer Church, which is located in the town proper. According to provincial tourism this well-crafted and meticulously sculpted altar, depicts Hispanic culture for a typical place of worship.  It was built through the consolidated effort of some kind-hearted locals, foreign nationals and donors from nearby towns. It has now become of the tourist attractions of the island because of its grandeur and spectacular craftsmanship

biri church
Saint Vincent Ferrer Church in Biri Island

biri church
inside Biri Church

How to get to Biri Island by air, Cebu Pacific Airlines have daily flights to Catarman, capital of Northern Samar. From Catarman, take a 30-minute jeepney ride to Lavezares, and from there, a 45-minute motor boat ride to Biri Island. Then take the Habal-habal (motorcycle). The Habal-habal driver acts also as a tourist guide.

If you're taking a land trip from Manila, air-conditioned buses are available daily to Allen, Catarman and Calbayog. Aircon vans and ordinary buses ply from Tacloban to Catarman route. Get off at the municipality of Lavezares, the jump-off point, and take pumpboats going to Biri Island.

If you're coming from Cebu, one can take a boat or vessel bound for Calbayog City or Ormoc City in Leyte. From Manila, passenger boats travel via Tacloban or Calbayog City.

If you're planning your vacation in Calbayog City, I'd recommend staying at S&R Bed and Breakfast. Please do not hesitate to contact them.

Till next time,

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