Koreans are so delicious (looking)! Not just the men, but the food too!
Late nights watching K-drama? Diet plans foil by budae jjigae? Haha, looks like there's no getting away from any of it, especially the food. Though I had not been to 8 Eight Korean BBQ at The Central, Clarke Quay since it opened in 2013, I always know of its existence through social media.
The Korean barbecue restaurant seems to be very well-received, especially among the millennials. Apparently, it is popular enough for the owners to expand into a second outlet recently in the heart of town at Shaw Centre, offering exquisite cuts of meats in a similar chic and stylish setting.
Time for a visit I guess. Will our hearts be captured?
Seriously, for me to spend my increasingly limited calories and sacrifice an evening date with some of the hottest guys in K-dramas, the meal better be worth it.
Thankfully, I found 8 good reasons which made 8 Eight Korean BBQ worth the visit.
1. Strategic Location & Edgy Industrial-style Interior
This outlet is located on level 4 of Shaw Centre, a retail mall that is conveniently located along Scotts Road and easily accessible via the nearest Orchard MRT Station (NS22).
The space is industrial looking with grey and red brick walls, black wooden tables and concrete floors, and ambience is given a soft touch with mellow lighting.
Latest K-pop music videos playing on three wall-hung television screens add to the trendy vibe, but watching those skinny girls strutting their stuff reminded me that I shouldn't be indulging in Korean BBQ if I want to look as good as them. Damn it! Life is so hard! #firstworldproblems
2. Banchan & Eight's Special Steamed Egg
The complimentary homemade banchan or Korean appetizer served rotates on daily basis from ten different varietals including kimchi, beansprouts, spicy cucumber and pickled radish.
It did a decent job of whetting up our appetite before the main affair.
Perennial side favorites such as Seafood Pancake ($20) are also available. My recommendation would be the Eight's Special Steamed Egg ($12) which boast of egg mixed with fish stock and cooked to a fluffy texture and light, savory flavors. Best while it's still steamy hot.
3. Big Hog Plate
Go big or go home! We were told that the latest trend to hit barbecue outlets in Korea is to serve tantalizingly thick cut of pork.
How thick? How big? Here at Eight, we have the impressive Big Hog Plate ($45), a huge 360g slab of Hungarian Mangalista pork belly!
This breed of pig is best known for its fatty, marbled meat, and all it needs is a light seasoning of salt and pepper to elevate its natural flavor. Cubed and tossed on the grill with onions, king oyster mushrooms and traditional Mugwort rice cake, the pork belly was an utterly satisfying choice.
4. Lunch Specials
For lunch service, portions are less intimidating and is suitable for individual consumption.
Besides staples such as Beef Bulgogi Bibimbap ($18), weekday set lunches and specials also include Kimchi Fried Rice ($8), Spicy Pork Bulgogi ($18), Seafood Soft Tofu Stew ($15) and Ginseng Chicken Soup ($18).
I'd definitely be grabbing a lunch companion and order the Chul Pan or Specialty Hot Grill, a lunch-only item that requires a minimum order of two portions of meat. Choices include Chicken ($15), Pork Belly ($16) and Beef ($18).
Stacked high like pyramid atop assorted vegetables such as beansprouts, spring onion and Chinese cabbage, the thinly-sliced beef was quite a sight!
It was then stir-fried at the table on a customized frill pan with a sweet and spicy homemade gochujang (Korean red pepper) sauce.
We thought the accompanying steamed rice was too lonely on its own and tossed it together with all the ingredients as well.
Wow! The end product was immensely yummy. It did remind me of bibimbap, albeit a more substantial, meatier version.
5. Signature Mangalitsa Specialties 8 Colours Set
Eight's signature 8 Colours Set ($98) is not to be missed too.
We get to savor the popular Mangalitsa pork marinated in 8 different flavors namely Wine, Original, Garlic, Herb, Curry, Miso, Red Pepper Paste, Kalbi (ranging from the lightest to the heaviest).
Garlic was my favorite for its distinct aromatic flavor. I do love those spicy strips too.
Each set is ideal for three to four persons to share, and there is also the 4 Colours Set ($58) suitable for two diners. Additional piece of pork belly in any preferred flavor is at $12 each.
6. Hearty Stews
The 8 Colours Set and 4 Colours Set Mangalitsa Pork Belly are all accompanied by house-made kimchi and beansprouts, as well as choice of stew.
Options include Beef Kimchi, Seafood Bean Paste, Pork Belly Kimchi or Sardine Kimchi. Seafood Soft Tofu or Army Stew is available at a top-up of $6.
Though I personally feel that the army stew which we had can do with a thicker broth and be more intense in taste, it nevertheless served as a welcoming, soupy companion to a predominately meaty, barbecue meal.
7. Refreshing Bingsu & Makgeolli
I was initially astounded by the costly price of the Bibimbap Bingsu ($28), but when the elaborately-made Korean shaved ice dessert arrived at our table, it proved to be a huge serving sufficient for at least 4 to 6 persons to share.
Can't get anything more refreshing than this icy treat to round off the meal.
If you must complete it with a tipple, then makgeolli is for you. The slightly-sweet traditional Korean alcoholic beverage comes in fruity flavors including Yucha Makgeolli ($35) and Passionfruit Makgeolli ($35).
The new Organic Honey Makgeolli ($35) was definitely another highlight!
8. Great Service & Functionality
Expect a hassle-free dining experience as the food is expertly prepared at the table by the well-trained service crew. We just need to sit back, relax, and eat our way to tummy happiness.
No worries about smelling like grilled meat ourselves either as the ventilation system did a pretty good job of keeping that dreaded stink away.
The air-conditioning is thankfully strong enough to ensure that we can enjoy a barbecue feast without breaking out in sweat.
8 Eight Korean BBQ
Address: 1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre #04-20/21, Singapore 228208
Contact: +65 9018 9212
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri Lunch 11.30am-2.30pm (last order 2pm) & Dinner 5.30pm-10.30pm (last order 10pm) / Sat, Sun & PH 11.30am-10.30pm
Prices are (1) Stated in Singapore dollars (2) Subject to 10% service charge & 7% GST (3) Correct at point of published date.
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