The name Dae Jang Geum may sound familiar even if you've physically passed the restaurant or not. If the familiarity is irritating you like it was to us, we suggest you click here for a blast from the past. Good or bad, at least the nag in your head will disappear.
Anywho, getting to it, Dae Jang Geum is a pretty new resto in Narahenpita that does Korean Food. And they do it well. Here's why.
Okay, getting to the restaurant can be a tad tricky. Well, not tricky per se but it definitely has a " where are you taking me? *nervous laughter" kinda vibe to it.
This was genuinely one of my favourite parts about our experience at Dae Jang Geum. Flooded with natural light and dotted with rather cheerful looking furniture and other paraphernalia (including a sofa and a TV), it looked uncannily like a restaurant in a Korean Drama and we loved it. It has enough of a capacity to seat more than 30 people and it feels really really homely. Maybe it's because the kitchen is opened out to the dining area so you can see everything being prepared. Nonetheless, we thought it was quite lovely.
That being said, we have to mention that the table we sat at had a slightly oily surface so you might want to watch out for that.
In terms of a menu, Dae Jang Geum is rather limited. The entire menu sized up to be one side of an A4 sheet with close to 10, maybe 12 options to choose from. Make sure you check out the blackboard at the entrance because it had a bunch of other dishes you can choose that aren't on the menu.
We settled for the Seafood Bibimbap (Rs. 1500), Steamed Rice (Rs. 200) and a Doenjang Soup (Rs. 1200).
Starting with the Bibimbap. So, the Bibimbap was one of the options we got from the blackboard and we're happy we got it. While we do agree that they could use some improvement on the presentation aspect of it, we quite liked the messiness of the bowl. It added to the homeliness of the ambience. A generous pile of fluffy sticky rice covered by an assortment of various veggies and meats, this was quite nice. The portion size was more than enough to satiate one person (or more tbh). And since most of the flavour in this comes from the thick red sauce on the side the meats (cuttlefish, fish, prawn) though cooked well, lacked seasoning. But, again, it's not really a big deal because the elements aren't meant to be eaten alone and the sauce is the one that gives the final death punch in terms of flavour which makes a good Bibimbap.
The little bowl of broth served on the side of the Bibimbap was fantastic! At least I thought it was great. My friend wasn't overly ecstatic about it, but...meh. With giant leafy pieces which we can assume are seaweed and large blocks of tofu, it was a solid deal and we loved it! The broth was packed with flavour with the blandness of tofu really helping balance things up. With the addition of the seaweed, it made one of the best broths I've had. We seriously recommend you get this. Even if you have to order the Bibimbap to get to it!
Then we have the Doenjang Soup with the Steamed Rice. The soup was a giant, never-ending abyss of perfectly salty, flavour packed soup. It arrived steaming with small bits of tofu just floating around the top. It wasn't particularly spicy, but, there was an abundance of cubed veggies and tofu in every spoonful, which is pretty great. Again, this was served in a rather large portion so maybe you'd want to skip anything else if you're going with this.
The Steamed Rice, on the other hand, wasn't great. It was hard like it had been frozen and then served. The fact that it was served cold didn't really help either.
The Kimchi they served was really cold. Like, straight out of the freezer cold. Needless to say, we were thoroughly disappointed.
In term of service, we're a bit unsure. While the staff seemed to be rather annoyed by us being there when we arrived, they brightened up (a full 180 degrees) when they found out that we hadn't eaten much Korean Food before this. Furthermore, the food was served around 10 minutes after ordering. Thus, we can't really complain nor can we praise. Maybe let's just move on.
In conclusion, we liked Dae Jang Geum. The food was pretty good, the ambience was lovely and it isn't very expensive. We do see ourselves recommending this to anyone who likes Korean food.