Woorinara Korean Restaurant at Upper Bukit Timah is a cozy establishment serving homemade family-style Korean food where I recently pigged out at. I love Korean food, it’s something that I am very familiar with. I eat it a lot when I’m in New York, especially at Koreatown on 32nd Street NYC where all the restaurants are open 24 hours (often frequented after hours by my friends and I post-clubbing). Downing soju in between nibbling dukbokki (Korean Rice Cakes in Spicy Sauce), or sipping steaming hot samgaetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup) during the wintertime spells comfort to me. I am happy to discover that Woorinara is a restaurant in Singapore that has great stuff on their menu where I can get my Korean fix from time to time.
One of my fave things about having Korean food is the banchan (side dishes / mini appetizers). I can’t imagine having a Korean meal without banchan. It’d be an incomplete experience! All decent and self-respecting Korean restaurants serve at least three or four different banchan to start off your meal with. FYI most Korean restaurants offer free-flow banchan, meaning you can ask for refills as many times as you want. I usually ask for a refill of the #1 banchan: kimchee. :D
Now that you already know how I have eaten a lot of Korean food over the years. A LOT! I have tried most of the common dishes that are usually served at Korean restaurants (some of which you will see below). With that said, I will say that this La Tofu, which is sliced tofu and kimchee on sizzling hot plate is a Woorinara original and it is exceptionally delicious. You must try this.
Another must-try dishes at Woorinara is the Yum Yum Chicken, which is marinated and battered Korean fried chicken. Shown above is the sampler platter of three different flavors: Original (crispy served with mustard sauce), Yum Yum (a bit spicy and sweet) and Soy Garlic (sweet and mild). I can’t decide which is my fave flavor, I think it’ll be between the Yum Yum and Soy Garlic. A nice cold soju would be a great companion to this platter of Korean fried chicken.
Another great dish that I think is great accompaniment to soju is Jokbal (boiled pig trotters) which is awesome when eaten with some kimchee; a piece of raw garlic and chili pepper optional.
Dukbokki is a popular Korean street food, made of cylinder-shaped rice cakes braised in sweet spicy sauce.
Bibimbap is another common and popular Korean dish of a mix of condiments over rice, served in a very hot stone bowl. The word literally means “mixed meal” or “mixed rice, and you mix all the ingredients in the bowl together before eating.
Samgaetang (ginseng chicken soup) is a hearty all-in-one dish in which a whole chicken is stuffed with glutinous rice, chestnuts and ginseng.
I love love love Naengmyun! It is served in a large stainless bowl with a tangy iced broth, julienned cucumbers, a boiled egg and slices of cold boiled beef. Spicy mustard sauce and vinegar are often added before consumption to enhance the flavors of this cold noodle soup. The noodles are made of arrowstarch root, giving it the dark brown color, and the texture is really chewy and bouncy. Traditionally, the long noodles wo5ld be eaten without cutting, as they symbolized longevity of life and good health, but servers at restaurants usually ask if the noodles should be cut prior to eating, and use scissors to cut the noodles. Perfect for the summer!
Budae Jigae, which literally translates to “army base stew” has an interesting story behind it. Soon after the Korean War, food was scarce in Seoul, South Korea. Some people made use of surplus foods from U.S. Army bases, such as hot dogs, canned ham, and Spam (luncheon meat), and incorporated them into a traditional spicy soup flavored with gochujang (red chili paste) and kimchi. Shown here served with instant ramen noodles.
In conclusion, bring an appetite when you go to Woorinara, there are plenty of good eats at this joint.
My top three recommendations at Woorinara are:
- La Tofu : This is really delicious and I love that it’s an original creation, I hadn’t encountered it elsewhere!
- Yum Yum Chicken : Korean fried chicken differs from its Western or Japanese counterparts in which the chicken has been pre-marinated before it’s deep fried into bite-sized pieces. I like the version served at Woorinara because it’s not dry. Still crunchy and bursting with flavors.
- Jokbal : I can eat this on its own with a good serving of soju or Makgeolli (Korean rice wine) on the side.
Here’s the interior of Woorinara, with its simple non-fussy decor. I am happy to find out that Woorinara delivers island-wide and they close at midnight daily, so I am already thinking of ordering the Yum Yum Chicken next time as supper. :9~
Woorinara Korean Restaurant
19 Lorong Kilat, #01-02
Tel: +65 6464 9282