Think of Korean food and your mind probably heads straight for K-BBQ. Smoky grilled meats aside, though, Korea’s food culture is a vibrant mix, from traditional hearty stews to fusion kimchi creations.
Whether it’s a quick meal or a place for a long-awaited gathering, here’s our pick of the best Korean restaurants in Singapore.
1. Joo BarPHOTO: Joo Bar
Tucked away in a three-story shophouse, Joo Bar is Singapore’s first makgeolli bar and restaurant.
It offers modern Korean bites and sharing platters, along with creative drinks. Expect delights like Kimchi Mac & Cheese ($16), a Korean twist on a well-loved Western dish, and Bulgogi Tacos ($18) dressed with kimchi salsa.
Try their specialty, Joo Bossam ($26), a twist on traditional braised pork belly, paired with house-made citron kimchi and radish salad.
Not only that, the team makes their own makgeolli (or Korean rice wine) in 16 unique flavours. For a fun night with friends, order the Makgeolli Sampler Set ($35) to try them all.
Joo Bar is located at 5 Tan Quee Lan Street, Singapore 188094. p. +65 8138 1628. Open Mon – Sun, 12pm –12am.
** Joo Bar delivers island wide daily. Orders must be placed at least two hours in advance.
2. The Go Gi JipPHOTO: The Go Gi Jip
The Go Gi Jip is the epitome of a traditional Korean restaurant, serving everything from meat to seafood.
What makes them a standout is their fresh produce, with all ingredients imported directly from Korea. This includes their best seller, Ganjang Gyejang ($35 to 45) – raw crabs marinated in soy sauce or a spicy chilli paste.
For other uncommon Korean dishes, opt for Yuk Hwe ($35) – Korean-style beef tartare – or even a steaming bowl of Soondae Soup ($25), filled with Korean blood sausage.
The best part? The restaurant’s Fresh Kimchi ($8 to 15) is available for purchase if you want to recreate the Korean experience at home.
The Go Gi Jip is located at 72 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088493. p. +65 6224 0667. Open Mon-Thurs 11am – 12am and Fri-Sun 11am – 3am.
** The Go Gi Jip delivers islandwide from 12pm – 11pm daily.
3. Kimme RestaurantPHOTO: Kimme Restaurant
Opened by Chef Sun Kim, who previously helmed Michelin-starred Meta, Kimme serves elevated Korean cuisine that’s sure to delight.
The menu is split into small, big, and, sweet sections, with each dish taking inspiration from a region of Korea.
Start with a Kampachi Sashimi Salad ($26), seasoned with pickled ginger and punchy gochujang. Move on to a luxurious Wagyu Tartare Bibimbap ($28) topped with an onsen egg and crispy seaweed.
Finish off with one of their popular menu items, Hotteok ($16) or sweet pancakes – a typical Korean street food in Korea that’s taken up a notch with walnut ice-cream and gula melaka here.
Kimme Restaurant is located at 47 Amoy Street, Singapore 069873, p. +65 6514 1588. Open Mon – Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 11pm and Sat 6pm – 11pm. Closed Sun.
4. DookkiPHOTO: Dookki
The first tteokbokki buffet in Singapore, Dookki is a South Korean concept with over 100 restaurants worldwide. Dookki translates to ‘two meals’ in Korean and the restaurant means that literally.
Start out with a bubbling Korean hotpot, and round off with kimchi fried rice ($18.80, 1.5 hrs). They’ve got over eight different types of tteokbokki such as cheese and sweet potato, and a variety of meat and vegetables to add to the hotpot.
What’s more, the base of the hotpot is customisable to suit your tastebuds. When the soup has boiled down to a thick sauce, add your rice, kimchi, and other ingredients to finish off your feast.
5. Hanok by MassizimPHOTO: Hanok by Massizim
Hanok is the Halal spin-off of popular South Korean chain Masizzim. This cosy shop at Westgate specialises in galbi-jjim, commonly known as Korean meat stews.
Looking for a quick but hearty meal? Try their popular Soy Beef Rib Stew ($19.70), a comforting bowl of braised short ribs alongside steaming hot rice.
For more interesting dishes, opt for their Crabmeat and Roe Riceball ($11.30) or Honey Mustard Cheese Egg Roll ($10.30) instead.
Hanok by Masizzim is located at 3 Gateway Drive, Westgate, #01-07, Singapore 608532. p. +65 6906 0965. Open daily 11am – 9.30pm.
** Hanok by Masizzim delivers islandwide 12pm – 8pm daily.
6. Guksu RestaurantPHOTO: Guksu Restaurant
Known for their handmade noodles and traditional hotpots, Guksu is a family-run restaurant with recipes dating back to 1945.
For the best of both worlds, order one of their hotpots and add a portion of handmade noodles. A popular option is their Gamja Tang ($13.90), a traditional spicy pork rib and potato stew.
Another must-try is the Basirak Kalguksu ($14.90), or knife-cut noodles bathed in a sweet clam broth.
And if you’re searching for a restaurant to celebrate dining in again, Guksu has a range of family steamboats perfect for the occasion.
Guksu Restaurant is located at 3 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City, #02-385, Singapore 038983, p. +65 6334 7950. Open daily 11am – 10pm.
7. The Boneless KitchenPHOTO: The Boneless Kitchen
Opening in 2014, The Boneless Kitchen is one of the only Korean vegetarian restaurants in Singapore.
The sizzling Dolsot Bibimbap ($11.90) still delights with the taste of sesame and gochujang, the fresh vegetables providing a crunch to the dish.
Order the Kimchi Mandu ($3.90) as well, for the small dumplings are packed with over 15 ingredients to create a savoury bomb in your mouth. With all their seasonings and sauces made in-house, you’re guaranteed not to miss meat.
The Boneless Kitchen is located at 1 Irving Place, #01-31, The Commerze@Irving, Singapore 369546, p. +65 8457 6464. Open daily 11am – 9pm.
** The Boneless Kitchen delivers islandwide daily 11.30am – 8.15pm.
8. Singkoba Korean Charcoal BBQ RestaurantPHOTO: Singkoba Korean Charcoal BBQ Restaurant
Of course, what list of Korean restaurants is complete without KBBQ?
Nestled along Telok Ayer Street, Singkoba offers a la carte BBQ meats alongside regular Korean dishes.
Look out for well-loved cuts like Pork Belly ($19) and Beef Ribs ($38) to more unique ones such as Grilled Intestines ($32-38) or Honeycomb Grilled Pork Skin ($22).
They also offer six BBQ sets with a variety of meats, a bang-for-buck option if you’re sharing the meal.
A tip: order the Steamed Egg ($6) as a side dish. Buttery and fluffy, it’s the best menu item other than their grilled meats.
Singkoba Korean Charcoal BBQ Restaurant is located at 155/157 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068611, p. +65 6221 2639. Open daily 11am – 9pm.
This article was first published in City Nomads.