Oodles of mouthwatering noodles! Just look at that glistening bowl of savoury, caramelised goodness. It’s the craving for a bowl of delicious Jajangmyeong (Korean Black Bean Noodles) that lured us into the cosy embrace of Tae Woo Restaurant in Central Mall.
It’s a great place to unwind with friends and tuck into a good variety of simple Korean fare. They could be more generous with some of their ingredients, but overall, the food was rather comforting, much like a home cooked meal.
Overall: ★★★1/2 ☆☆
First off, the wooden tables, chairs, decorative fruit, cookware and little spice cabinets made the whole place feel cosy and like you’d just entered someone’s home. We were led by very friendly Korean service staff to our seats and presented with the menus.
Totally famished, we decided to go for the Summer Course of 6 seasonal dishes at roughly $29 per person (minimum order of two portions).
After a simple Naengchae (cold dish platter), we had this rather interesting Nurungji Ge-sal (scorched rice with crabmeat soup).
The texture of the egg whites in the soup is quite unique and took a little getting used to. While it wasn’t really a hit with my fellow diners, I actually quite like the fluffy, light texture of the egg white bobbing on some light broth. There wasn’t much by way of crab meat although the scorched rice lent a fragrant, toasted flavour to the otherwise mild soup. The textures came together quite nicely, and it was interesting to try a soup so different than anything I’d ever had.
Next up, the Yoo Rin Ki (Fried Chicken with Hot Soy Bean Sauce).
I really liked this dish. And i’m not even particularly a big fan of fried chicken. I think it had a lot to do with the way the tender meat was coated in a thin, tasty batter fried a beautiful crispy golden brown. And drizzled with a generous helping of a sauce that was at once sweet, sour and packed quite a kick with all the chopped green and red small chillies. All of those incredible flavours just coming together in the mouth.. This was highly addictive.
And then, something light. This Gochu Japchae & Kot Bbang (Sautéed Shredded Pork with Green Pepper).
I thought they could’ve been more generous with the pork, but the capsicum was very sweet, and i liked that they didn’t overcook it so it lost it’s crunch. Didn’t really care much for the bread though. It seemed an odd combination, given there wasn’t much gravy or anything to accompany it.
This next Khanso Saewoo (Prawn with Chilli Sauce) was something else though.
Just look at that amazing colour! It’s not as spicy as it looks, being more on the sweet side, with a slightly tomato-ey base. The prawn fritters were deep fried before being tossed in fragrant crunchy onions, garlic and a balanced combination of potent flavours.
And finally, it was time for the main event. Jajangmyeon is a popular Korean noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang (black bean), diced pork and vegetables, and occasionally also seafood. I’ve only ever tried the pork version and boy, is it something you have to try at least once in your life.
The noodles were wonderfully firm, chewy and picked up all that gorgeous rich pork flavour so well. The sauce usually contains some fragrant oil and so it all glides down the throat easily, leaving that lingering, savoury salty goodness of the fermented black bean. It goes best when the strong umami of the sauce is complemented with the light, sweet crunch of fresh julienned cucumbers.
It was so good, the three of us shared two large bowls because one just wasn’t enough. Tae Woo is definitely a good place for a casual meal that offers great value for money. Why not enjoy a soju or cocktails before taking a slow, romantic stroll down the breezy riverside and watch the boats go by in Clarke Quay? Enjoy!
What are your favourite Korean dishes and why? Do you have any favourite restaurants or recipes to share? Leave your comments below!