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Chiaki27
This is Chiaki27 living in East. I work in Central. I like to hang out in Central, East. Japanese, Korean, Singaporean, Taiwanese & Hong Kong are my favorite cuisines. I also love Café, Restaurant and Dim Sum, Ramen, Chicken Rice.
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Lacklustre food and poor service Cry Oct 27, 2013   
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Categories : Korean | Korean BBQ

Side dishes - banchan

Side dishes - banchan

 
We were famished by dinner time and simply decided to head to Kkongdon since we were at Marina Square. Unfortunately, things did not really get off on a good note because we were told that:
- The ginseng chicken soup takes a whooping 30 mins before it can be served
- We can't request the kitchen to cook the BBQ meat for us
- And service was really patchy because getting the attention of the waitresses alone was tough

Anyway, we still decided to order the samgyetang and not to do BBQ ourselves (since we were too hungry to cook) and ordered something else instead.

Although the banchan was free-flow, it was disappointing at best. The bean sprouts were too hard (not crunchy at all) while the radish kimchi tasted a bit odd. The lotus wasn't the usual sweet type I find in most Korean restaurants while the cabbage kimchi was only passable.
Fried kimchi and pork

Fried kimchi and pork

 
We ordered the stir-fried kimchi with pork which does not come with steamed rice so you have to order it separately. The meat itself is OK, succulent and absorbed the flavour of the sauce. However, the kimchi failed to impress and frankly speaking, the sauce was too sweet for me. Most versions I've tasted so far tend to be on the spicy side with a slight sourish taste from the kimchi so Kkongdon's version should suit those who prefer this to be toned down on the spiciness.
Kimchi hotpot

Kimchi hotpot

 
The kimchi hotpot was OK with quite a fair bit of ingredients like meat, mushrooms, kimchi, vegetables but given that it cost 20 bucks and that the meat was more fats than meat, it didn't feel like such a good deal. The soup was also rather diluted which I thought was a pity. If you want to order ramen, note that it comes separately at the price of $2.80 and it's just for one person.
 
Date of Visit: Oct 26, 2013 

Spending per head: Approximately $20(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 3  |  
Environment
 2  |  
Service
 1  |  
Clean
 2  |  
Price
 1

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Customisable mains with OK sides Cry Oct 20, 2013   
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Categories : Thai | Malay | Restaurant | Rice | Kids-Friendly

Prawn cake and stuffed chicken wings

Prawn cake and stuffed chicken wings

 
Whenever I visit the Bali Thai outlet in Ion on a weekend, it's usually not fully packed which is considered good for me because I never like crowded restaurants to begin with. I've been pretty satisfied with the food served here so far but this visit seemingly wanted to buck the trend.

First up were the sides i.e. prawn cake and stuffed chicken wings. You can get these at literally every Thai restaurant so it's a readily available dish. Unfortunately, the version served on this day tasted a bit odd. The prawn cake appeared thinner than usual so I could taste more of the batter outside rather than the filing. The chicken wing looked much lighter in colour than usual so the skin didn't have that crispy taste and the filling was rather bland.
Customisable main - seafood hor fun in satay sauce

Customisable main - seafood hor fun in satay sauce

 
As for the customised main dish, I chose seafood horfun in satay sauce which was what I tasted before. Strangely speaking, the 2nd time I tasted it felt a bit different and it felt oiler as you went further down the plate.

It does feel as if inconsistency is the key here because service was also less attentive than my first visit to this branch. I've tried other Bali Thai branches which were of a similar standard so it remains to be seen if it has improved now.
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Customised main dishe
 
Date of Visit: Oct 13, 2012 

Spending per head: Approximately $25(Dinner)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 2  |  
Environment
 3  |  
Service
 2  |  
Clean
 3  |  
Price
 3

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Disappointing spread Cry Oct 05, 2013   
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Categories : Malaysian | Halal | Noodles

 

 
I had visited Gurney Culture at the airport and thought that this restaurant was the same as that but sad to say, it wasn't. Other than the name, the wow factor at Gurney was not to be seen here. The signature prawn mee was seriously lacking in the aroma which I suspect could be due to the use of chicken rather than spare ribs. Having tasted the pork edition which made the soup a bit robust than the chicken version, I think the gap in the tastes made it rather difficult for me to appreciate the latter.

As for the Penang ice-kacang, it tasted rather different from the local version we are used to which is full of colourful syrups. There was a strong spice taste in the shaved ice which I couldn't place my finger on and the pieces of dried sweet garnishings (forgot what they were) felt a bit out of place with the dessert. Maybe it was just us who couldn't appreciate this dessert since this was the first time we ate it.
 
Date of Visit: Aug 25, 2013 

Spending per head: Approximately $10(Lunch)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 2  |  
Environment
 2  |  
Service
 2  |  
Clean
 3  |  
Price
 3

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Categories : Japanese | Restaurant | Sushi/Sashimi

 
For more food reviews, please visit my blog at http://shokushisouseikatsu.blogspot.com/

I was craving for something Japanese during lunch one day so headed to The Sushi Bar at Ngee Ann City to give it a try. Although the online reviews were generally quite favourable, I think it was a mix of hits and misses for me so it will take a few more visits to find out which items are the ones to choose and avoid.

First was the chicken katsu rice which came with some coleslaw and cucumber slices. The fried batter was OK but the chicken meat within was too thin so it felt more like I was eating the skin and batter rather than the chicken. In addition, the rice was rather lumpy and sticky which seemed to suggest that there was either too much water or it was way overcooked. Despite the presence of a sweet sauce to be eaten with the dish, the addition of mayonnaise to the sauce altered the taste and there was too little of the sauce thus making the dish taste rather dry on the whole. It might have better if there was more sauce or the meat was thicker and juicier.

 
Next was the teba gyoza which means chicken wing gyoza. On first sight, this resembled the stuffed chicken wings commonly seen in Thai restaurants served with sweet chili sauce. The version here was made to be like gyoza where instead of the gyoza skin, the chicken wing which had the bones in the mid section removed was stuffed with meat filling. The accompanying sauce was replaced by mayonnaise. Overall, I thought that the taste of this teba gyoza was not much different from its Thai counterpart and the sauce didn't really do much to accentuate the taste of the dish. Although I thought that it was a pretty gimmicky idea to position this dish as a gyoza-lookalike, the dish probably needs a major change to make an impact on the customer's palate. Perhaps something like a wasabi-based mayonnaise might help in making this dish more interesting.

 
The kani maki turned out pretty ordinary in terms of taste which can be considered a good and bad thing. The good thing is, it doesn't taste awful but on the other hand, it fails to leave an impression on me. Appearance-wish, I thought that it could have looked slightly better. Given that the name of this place is called "The Sushi Bar", I was expecting something better even for a simple offering like this. It's the simple things which need more skills so in this sense, I thought that it should have fared better. The only thing I liked was probably the wasabi which tasted fresh. Just be careful not to take too much of it at one go or you might find yourself coughing when you choke on the sudden rush of the wasabi's spicy flavour.

 
The hotate miso yaki was one of the two dishes I liked during my visit. Despite miso having a pretty strong taste and potentially covering up the fresh seafood flavour if it turned out to be too overpowering, the good thing was that I could still taste the hotate's flavour and liked the texture i.e. still crunchy and not overcooked. When eaten with the spring onions, it added a welcome layer of texture to the dish. I didn't try eating with the salmon roe though. However, in order to do justice to the fresh seafood, it might be good to have another option where the hotate is grilled on its own thus allowing its natural flavour to be infused into the hotate due to the heat or adding soy sauce or some other lighter seasoning when grilling. I've tried eaten grilled seafood in this manner while in Japan and really liked the natural seafood goodness which was not overwhelmed by strong-tasting condiments.

 
I've been craving to have some yakitori, not the sauce version but the salt version. Ever since I tasted the latter from a convenience store in Japan, I've grown to like the salt version a lot. However, a lot of Japanese restaurants tend to have the sauce version only so I was quite happy to find the salt version offered here. The disappointing thing was that, the meat was not grilled yet and lost its meat juices so the resulting product was tough and dry despite the use of the thigh portion (momo) which should have been juicier and more tender than breast meat. The salt flavour was also hardly detectable. Perhaps the sauce version will taste better so I'll probably give that a try next time. As for this version, I think I'll go back to Family Mart to relieve my craving instead.

 
Last but not least, the tontoro yaki was one of my top 2 dishes that day. I don't know if this was done by the same person who did the momo yakitori but this version tasted much better. Not only was it juicy, the fats on the tontoro added some much-needed texture to the meat thus making it crunchy and nice to chew. The flavour was just right too. I think I might order this again during my next visit.

On the whole, I thought my visit to this place was not that bad because service was prompt and the restaurant was pretty spacious. However, the food turned out to be slightly disappointing. It could also have been that they specialise more in sushi than the other dishes but even so, the quality shouldn't be too far from one another. I would probably go back a second time to try a few more dishes but there's got to be more "hook dishes" to pull me back for the third visit onwards.

For more food reviews, please visit my blog at http://shokushisouseikatsu.blogspot.com/
 
Recommended Dish(es):  Hotate Miso Yaki,Tontoro Yaki
 
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)


Date of Visit: Dec 24, 2015 

Spending per head: Approximately $30(Lunch)

Other Ratings:
Taste
 2  |  
Environment
 3  |  
Service
 3  |  
Clean
 3  |  
Price
 2

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Categories : Korean | Korean Fried Chicken

 
For more food reviews, please visit http://shokushisouseikatsu.blogspot.com/

As an amateur or should I say part-time food reviewer (I don't think that I fit the title of food blogger) who posts reviews as and when I like and given that I am no expert on food, I would never have expected myself to be invited to food tasting events especially since I'm not one of the big names in the food blogging arena. When I saw the call for applicants to take part in this food tasting event hosted by Open Rice at Chicken Up's latest branch at Parkway Parade, I gave it a shot while thinking that it would be extremely unlikely that I would be selected. As such, when I received the email confirming my selection, it was a mix of surprise and disbelief that I was going to attend my very first food tasting event! It was a tad intimidating at first because some of my fellow participants were armed with very professional-looking cameras, using additional lights or flashes or going to great lengths to arrange the dishes on the table so as to make the photos look better. Comparatively, I just brought my Sony camera which isn't even a DSLR and was meant as a countermeasure against dark lighting within the restaurant. Otherwise, I always use my mobile phone to take my food pictures. I guess this just shows how "casual" I am when it comes to taking food pictures for my reviews so I don't think I can match up to these more experienced food bloggers anytime soon in terms of skills, experience and enthusiasm. ^__^

Perhaps I should talk about my experience with Chicken Up so far for a start. I am not new to Chicken Up actually as I've been to their outlets before i.e. once in Tanjong Pagar and twice in Tampines. As such, I knew roughly what I was going to eat there before I showed up for the food tasting event. However, it seems like Chicken Up has added some new items which I don't remember seeing before which I think is a positive step towards attracting new customers and maintaining the novelty for existing ones.

 
The Parkway Parade outlet at the first floor of the shopping mall feels much bigger than the Tanjong Pagar and Tampines outlets partly because there are two sitting areas separated by the walkway. The Tanjong Pagar outlet felt more cramped as the tables were rather close to one another while the Tampines outlet also had similar issues as it isn't a proper shop space within the Century Square building. Lighting-wise, the Tanjong Pagar outlet was on the dark side since it was within a shophouse and there were not many windows to let in the natural light from outside while the Tampines outlet could be a bit dark if there was a lack of sunlight coming through the full-length glass windows as one side of the restaurant was facing the building. Comparatively, the Parkway Parade outlet felt less restrictive in terms of space and the warm orange lighting made it feel cosier. The shop space area houses the bar counter on the left, the sitting area in the centre, the kitchen at the back and a series of wall display shelves on the right containing bottles of food items such as spices and fruits. It might be good to fill up the entire display area as some bottles were empty so it didn't look as nice as it could have been. The first row of the shelves were also not lighted up so by fixing that, the whole display would stand out more prominently.

 
The other seating area outside the shop space can be likened to be semi-al fresco because there are no walls on the boundaries so you would be able to look across to other restaurants near Chicken Up. The borderless design makes the area look more spacious than it actually is. In addition, you don't need to bear with the heat like in the Tampines outlet because the outdoor seats there are exposed to the elements. In the Parkway Parade outlet, you get to enjoy an al fresco feel in air-conditioned comfort. Based on this reason alone, I think customers would be happier to sit in the "outdoor" area than if they had to contend with the heat, dust from vehicle traffic or even the haze which is becoming an annual issue when the winds are not in our favour.

Being a Korean restaurant, there is no lack of Kpop music as the BGM which should attract young people who like Korean pop culture and food. I heard a number of my favourites during the entire tasting session which I think is good in improving the dining experience. Ever since the Korean drama "He who came from the stars" (별에서 온 그대) became a hit, chi-maek (치맥) i.e. fried chicken and beer has suddenly become a very attractive combination to many people. For chi-maek fans, you would be happy to know about the chi-maek buffet offered by Chicken Up at its Tanjong Pagar, Tampines, Buangkok and of course Parkway Parade outlets where you can eat an unlimited amount of chicken wings with beer or soju at a fixed price. On most days, ladies can get this deal at $35++ each while gentlemen who are expected to be able to consume more, have to pay a $10 premium on top of this amount. Note that if you are coming on a Friday, there would be a surcharge of $20.

 
For customers who may be clueless about what to order especially if this is their first time here, Chicken Up provides a list of their best-selling food, drinks and desserts on the first few pages of its menu. Although not everyone may like what's popular among the masses, it is helpful for those who may have difficulty deciding even after going through the entire menu. With the presence of photos as visual aids, this allows customers to see at a glance what to expect. In the event that they are interested in a particular item, they can then refer to the detailed menu for a list of what goes into which dish and the spiciness level. For those who may have special dietary concerns due to various reasons as religion, I would recommend that you check the ingredients list before ordering. In my case, I keep a lookout for dishes which contain beef or beef-related items when I dine out so that I would not eat such dishes unwittingly. As such, Chicken Up's efforts in trying to provide the list of ingredients is indeed commendable and helpful to people like me. I wish more restaurants would be more considerate in this regard.

 
First to be served was the pineapple soju (파인애플소주, $30). Even before the top of the pineapple was removed, the sweet scent from the fruit was hard to ignore and it looked good visually. The small soju shot glasses were used to serve this type of soju. Much as I'm not really into alcoholic drinks, the pineapple soju tasted better than I expected. A note of warning though, because the sweetness of the pineapple soju is picked up by the tongue first before the taste of the soju kicks in, you may be tempted to drink this at a faster pace than your body can take it. It would be recommended to go easy on the drink because soju's alcohol content varies from 16.7% to 45% so there is a risk of getting drunk before you finish your meal. Perhaps not drinking on an empty stomach and pacing yourself would be the best way to ensure that you can enjoy this drink without causing any undesirable effects after your meal.

 
The watermelon soju (수박소주, $38) was served in an entirely different manner though. First of all, one bottle of soju was poured into half a watermelon with the fruit removed which set off the first wave of white smoke flowing out and collective responses of amazement among the participants. Another bottle of the soju was then emptied into the watermelon as seen from the picture. The soju was then served in droplet-shaped bowls which were much bigger than the soju shot glasses. Comparatively, this may not go down well with the casual drinker because the strong soju taste hit the tongue in such a manner that it felt like scalding due to hot water. The watermelon taste was not as noticeable when compared to its pineapple counterpart which I assume to be that the soju overpowered the taste of the watermelon.

Frankly speaking, for people who can hardly drink or only drink once in a while, the watermelon may not be suitable for you. For those who can hold their liquor well, this would be good if you are eating in a group and the aesthetic appeal of this item would definitely lift the atmosphere of your meal outing as soon as this gets served on your table. On the other hand, if you are new to soju and can't really boast about being a good drinker, go for the pineapple soju which is less intimidating and easier on your palette. Portion-wise, it would be less likely for you to get drunk since the volume of the pineapple should be lesser than that of the watermelon.For those who may be wondering, the type of soju being used here is Sodal 쏘달 from Jinro which contains 16.9% of alcohol.

 
Makguksu (막구수, $12) which is essentially cold buckwheat noodle salad, was one of my Top 3 favourite dishes during the food tasting. Besides buckwheat noodles, there were vegetables such as cabbage and carrots, seaweed shreds, one-half of a hard-boiled egg and a vinegar-like dressing. Even before the ingredients were mixed, this dish already gave off a refreshing aroma even though it was not a hot dish. Despite being slightly cold, the makgusu offered an unique combination of sour vs. spicy (the dressing) and soft vs. crunchy (the noodles and the vegetables) thus making it a very appealing appetiser to begin the meal with. Portion-wise, it's good enough to be shared among a few people so for people who must have their greens and carbohydrates, this would be a pretty good choice to get started.

 
Topokki with cheese and seafood (해물치즈떡볶이, $20) would be a dish popular with those who like spicy food. Most topokki dishes in Korean restaurants tend to have just the deok (rice cakes), the odaeng (fish cakes) and hard-boiled eggs or with ramyeon at times. However, Chicken Up's version chooses to do away with this convention and adds seafood such as squid and scallops along with glass noodles and onions to the standard ingredient of deok. A generous amount of shredded cheese is placed on top thus giving the dish a thick and gooey texture once it is mixed into the topokki's spicy sauce. Be warned that this can be quite stimulating on your tongue so for those who are not too good with spicy food, you may wish to reconsider your choice. For those who relish spicy food, this should be a very attractive option. As for those who can't take beef-related items just like me, note that there is beef seasoning used in this dish.

 
The seafood pancake (해물파전, $18) here was also somewhat different from the traditional version elsewhere. In many Korean restaurants, the seafood pancakes are usually thin with crisp edges and presented as a big full circle. Sometimes, they are cut up in pieces of different sizes in the kitchen while at times, they are only cut and served at the table. The version here lined up the four square pieces of the pancake neatly on the plate and each slice was comparatively thicker than the norm. However, I found that the proportion of the batter was more than what I would have preferred so I could hardly taste the spring onions and seafood bits within the pancake. The dipping sauce was also modified to become somewhat similar to chili sauce with a savoury twist as it contained chili sauce, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sugar and undisclosed spices. This is quite different from the usual soy sauce with spring onions and chili used elsewhere. Perhaps it's a matter of old habits die hard but I do prefer the traditional sauce when eating this dish. Given the price of this dish, I also feel that the portion may be too little and the small number of pieces will probably mean that it's going to be harder to share this dish in a large group setting unless multiple portions are ordered. For a small group though, this will be just nice as compared to the larger traditional version. I guess the suitability of a dish really depends on how big your dining party is.

 
There are two types of fries being offered here i.e. the bulgogi fries (불고기프라이스, $18) and the kimchi fries (김치프라이스, $18). As the bulgogi fries contain beef, I would not be able to give an accurate assessment of that since I did not sample this dish. However, the kimchi fries which are covered in a mayonnaise-based sauce with melted cheese, spring onions, shallots and shredded chicken which had been cooked in chicken stock contains a mixture of different flavours coming together to deliver an unique taste. The sourish kimchi coupled with the sweet mayonnaise and cheese, the crunchiness brought about by the vegetables and the texture added by the flavoured chicken shreds combine to create a new type of fries that isn't so common out there. The only flaw I notice is that the fries at the bottom of the tray tend not to be covered by the sauce thus it might be good to have an option of ordering more dipping sauce for those who find themselves running out of sauce or would prefer to have more of it. Surprisingly, despite the use of kimchi in this dish, there seems to be a lack of the signature spiciness from the kimchi so for those who are concerned about spiciness, it looks like it won't be an issue for this dish.

 
Jabchae (잡채, $14) is a stir-fried dish made up primarily by glass noodles, spring onions, carrots, onions, capsicum and sesame seeds. The version here which I also chose as one of my top 3 favourites, was nicely flavoured without an oily aftertaste. Even when left to cool (because we were busy taking pictures), the glass noodles remained springy instead of becoming a messy lump. Although there are some versions of this dish which contain pork or beef, Chicken Up's version doesn't. As such, for those who are looking for a noodle dish to satisfy their carbohydrates need and yet doesn't want to consume more meat or wants to eat some vegetables, this would be another viable option just like the makgusu introduced earlier on. However, the key difference between both dishes is that the makgusu would be more suitable to be an appetiser while while the jabchae is more like a side dish to be eaten together with the main course.

 
During my last visit to Chicken Up, I did not notice that there was budae jjigae (부대찌개, $30), also known as army stew on the menu. I'm not sure if this was newly added recently though. The strange thing is that, it is known as Ugly Tang Stew even though the Korean name printed on the menu remains as budae jjigae. Apparently, this name was given to represent the mixture of the ingredients in the stew which look rather messy because there are many types of items inside the top. Budae jjigae apparently started as a food item for soldiers where they added anything they had into the kimchi-based stew because food was scarce then. There are no fixed rules on what must go into this dish but as far as I could see, the standard items of ramyeon, deok, ham, luncheon meat (not sure if this is the SPAM canned meat from Korea), chili, spring onions, onions, macaroni and cheese were all there. As for the soy beans (not baked beans) and enoki mushrooms, they probably aren't considered to be part of the menu for budae jjigae. The soup is also a bit different in the sense that the gochujang (chili paste) is mixed into a kimchi-based soup but here in Chicken Up, a clear stock made of chicken is poured into the pot while the gochujang is shaped into a sphere, placed on top of the ingredients and blended in when the soup boils. As such, the taste here is somewhat lighter and not as spicy than the usual budae jjigae.

Looking at the photo, it is evident that the pot was almost full by the time the soup was poured in. It can be a bit difficult to stir the contents without some of the soup flowing out of the pot. As such, it might be better to use a bigger pot if possible e.g. the flat-type big pans usually used for budae jjigae. Otherwise, it would be best to pour in the soup over several times to avoid the contents from overflowing.

 
Finally, here are the leads at Chicken Up i.e. the fried chicken! There are three flavours available i.e. ganjang (soya sauce), yangnyum and spicy. During the tasting, we were given the first two flavours to try.

Korean fried chicken is done differently from the usual style of fried chicken we get elsewhere as it is deep-fried twice and coated with a sauce using a brush after deep-frying. As such, this is said to be the reason why Korean fried chicken is less greasy and crunchier than its competition. It is also said that Korean fried chicken restaurants tend to use small or medium-sized chickens which have more tender meat thus contributing to the popularity of this dish.

The ganjang chicken wings (진짜 유명 간장 지킨윙, $12) which interestingly is listed as "very famous ganjang chicken wings" in Korean on the menu, had a light sheen on their skin due to the glazing of the soy sauce which also played a pivotal role in making the skin moist to the taste. Unlike other deep-fried chicken wings which may tend to be either too oily or dry on the surface, the presence of the ganjang helps to accentuate the flavour to a certain extent and retains the moisture in the skin. In addition, the deep-frying method used to make the chicken wings also played a key role in sealing the natural juices of the chicken meat without drying it out. Although it would be good if the flavour of the ganjang could also be tasted in the chicken meat rather than just at the skin level, this might make the entire dish a bit too salty to my liking so I think the current method of just coating the ganjang still works best. On the whole, this version of the chicken wings ranks in my top 3 but I think that there is a limit to how many I can eat these at one sitting because the soy sauce becomes a bit too heavy on the palate after a while.

 
On the other hand, the yangnyum version (양념치킨윙, $12) looked very different from the ganjang version as the chicken wings were coated in a red and sticky sauce which typically consists of gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste), ketchup, garlic and corn syrup. White sesame seeds were then sprinkled on the chicken wings as shown in the photo. For those who prefer a slightly spicier version of the chicken wings, this should be suitable for you. Even for people who may not be a fan of spicy food, the level of spiciness in this dish is still manageable to a certain extent. Similarly, the meat of the chicken wings was still tender and juicy just like the ganjang version. Personally, I think that this would taste best when eaten with alcoholic drinks such as beer and it doesn't feel as overwhelming on the palate even after eating multiple pieces.

In conclusion, the entire tasting event was very enjoyable and I found it to be a great eye opener. This review turned out to be much longer than I initially expected so if you have read this till the end, thank you for your time and attention and hope that you were not bored by this. Special thanks goes to the staff at Chicken Up who tried to make us comfortable and answered the numerous questions we had and Open Rice for giving me the opportunity to try this new outlet. Till the next tasting event then!

 
Recommended Dish(es):  Makgusu,Jabchae,Ganjang chicken wings,Yangnyum chicken wings
 
Date of Visit: Dec 08, 2015 

Dining Offers: 試食活動


Other Ratings:
Taste
 3  |  
Environment
 3  |  
Service
 4  |  
Clean
 3  |  
Price
 3

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