MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Korean restaurants usually fall behind our go-to restos whenever we dine out not because we do not like Korean dishes but just because the other cuisines take up the higher tiers of our hierarchy of food preference! Good thing we dismissed it tonight and decided to go beyond our comfort zone and try this one Korean restaurant that fights over for those hungry people's attention in Hobbies of Asia.
Exterior-wise, A-Won Charcoal Barbecue restaurant would not, in anyway, grab your attention. The adage "Do not judge a book by its cover" definitely applies to how you should approach the restaurant; because prematurely judging it by its looks would never get you anywhere and would never allow you to have a taste of their wonderful Galbis. Instead of looking at the restaurant's appearance, peak through their windows and glass doors first. Only in this way you could witness the volume of Koreans eating here and decide that this place might be worth the try.
The interior has a very Asian vibe to it, primarily because of the nipa weave on the ceiling and the wooden furniture and floorings. Despite the volume of the people inside, the waitresses were quick to lead us to our seats and attend to our menu-deciphering needs. The menu is not too confusing but not lacking either. It only showcases the essentials and the best dishes they can offer.
As expected, after we settled our orders, the banchan dishes arrived. A total of 11 banchans were placed in our table which naturally tempted us to just finish all the appetizers and go since wiping all would already leave us full. If there is something that makes Korean restaurants stand out for me, serving banchans while diners wait for the main entrees would definitely and undoubtedly be it; they are delicious, filling and, most of all, free!
Preparing us for a Galbi-natic night is a retractable exhaust that extends to the ceiling, mesh and a coal-ful pot! Any Korean restaurant visit would not be complete without eating Galbis. It would be a mortal sin to leave the Galbis out from your order list! We started out with the Seng Galbi, or short beef ribs (Php 500) which is a great opener to a meaty meal! This would be my ultimate favorite out of all the Galbi we ate that night.
Since no one from our group is allergic to shrimp and cuttlefish, we decided to skip the Plain or Garlic rice and went to have the Seafood Rice (Php 190 - S/ Php 320 - M/ Php 450 - L) instead. A medium-sized serving is already more than enough to satisfy a hungry pack of 5 to 6 people. Well, it did for us! This rice is yummy to boot! I am not a rice person because I easily get full by it, but this rice made me consume more than the amount I could take in.
If the Japanese had their Okonomiyaki, the Korean have Hae Mul Pa Jeon (Php 400) to compare it to. Their Korean Seafood pancake is a definite must-try!
Next to the line of Galbi to be consumed that night is the Dae Ji Gal Bi (Php 300). Jumping to another type of meat, this pork ribs had been marinated with a sauce specially concocted by the restaurant's chef.
They also have soups like this Gal Bi Tang (Php 250) consists of beef ribs for those rainy days that are now coming in a lot lately.
They also showcase a list of Filipino dishes to cater those individuals who wants to try out Filipino dishes like this Grilled Tuna Belly (Php 290).
I declare their version of Kkot Sal (Php 700) to be my second favorite for that night because of its juiciness and compactness. Kkot Sals are beautifully marbled sliced beef rib eye. This type and cut is particularly fattier than the Seng Galbi! If you have noticed, the cooking plate had now been changed to a grilling plate. According to our ever dependable waitress, this is mainly due to the fact that the next two Galbis that we are about to grill is best cooked through heat conduction.
Order the Buldak Galbi (Php 280) to literally spice things up a little bit. Though hotter and spicier than expected, I simply love this spicy chicken barbecue because of the oodles of chicken skin present in this heap.
Even our giggly, baby Aiden is having a really great time eating his heart out! How cute it is to see him trying to feed himself rice like a grown man! We still need to work on keeping the sides of our mouth though, baby boy! Nonetheless, you are doing great little Tippy (I call him that because he usually tiptoes when he walks)!
Eating at A-Won had been a really great experience for us.We went there on a Saturday night and with no reservations. Nonetheless, we were still seated immediately.
FOOD: Aside from its big serving size, the food is also amazing! I could not ask for more. It tasted like the dishes were prepared using the freshest ingredients that can be found in the market and the portion size was maximized to the fullest. You can see that they did not scrimp on anything! The dishes were truly great value for its price.
AMBIANCE: I love the unassuming and comfortable vibe that the restaurant emits. A-Won lets you have a wonderful time without putting much effort on how you look and without having to worry about the smell of the smoke sticking to your clothes and skin.
SERVICE: The waitress who had been tasked to assist us really did her job good by servicing us well the whole time we were there. She prepared our barbecue grill and even cooked our Galbis to perfection. We just sat there and ate to our hearts' content! I know that it is common policy for them to do the grilling for the customer unless the customer insists that he cooks his ordered Galbis instead but I still could not get over the fact that by just doing that, the waitress made us feel like we were the only customers she has in the restaurant which made us see how the restaurant values deeply their clients and how they want them to experience only the best.
TAB: Php 300 to Php 500 per person. Do not forget to tip as there is no service charge.
A-WON CHARCOAL BARBECUE RESTAURANT
(add) 8 Pres Diosdado Macapagal Avenue PICC Reclamation Area, Pasay City | (phone) +632 833 0421