A lot of Korean restaurants have popped up in Metro Manila as Filipinos embrace the Korean culture which includes Korean bbq with banchan (or side dishes). It is only normal for someone like us, who have personally been to Korea in the past both for tourism and work, to hunger for quality charcoal grilled meat. On satisfying Me-An’s cravings during our anniversary celebration, we tried out Seoul Train Korean BBQ, a train-themed restaurant, which was still on its soft opening.
Currently, the restaurant is temporarily closed for renovation due to the fire incident at the second level of the restaurant. The good news is that it is reopening this Nov. 18 (Friday). So, yes, we have the opportunity to eat again and you can try it too in case you still haven’t.
Interior & Ambiance
From the moment we stepped out of our car parked to the moment we entered the restaurant, we were impressed with Seoul Train Korea BBQ.
It stayed true to its theme starting with the facade looking like a moving real train complete with rails, wipers on windows, and lights.
All of the little details were also well thought of such as the signages to the cute but cool graffiti walls.
Going inside, you will be greeted on the side with a magazine rack filled with PULP, a Philippine-based monthly music magazine. You may pick one up to read while waiting to be seated when you don’t have a reservation.
Another form of entertainment may be getting a gashapon (or capsule toy) for PhP 60 (or 1.22 USD) each.
If you have loads of two-PhP 10 coins to spare, you may also try beating a toy crane or claw machine by grabbing a prize.
The waiting area imitates an actual train platform in Seoul Metro with tiled walls and incoming train sounds in the background.
There are also actual Seoul subway signages as if the person is really going to embark on the train carriage that certainly adds to the immersive experience.
Access to the dining area is through the automated door that serves as a replica of the train carriage’s door.
The dining area itself looks pretty much like standard Korean grill restaurants which have movable exhaust arms. An exception, indeed, is its train theme set-up. Some of its dining booths feature American dining car windows.
On one side of the dining area, there is a subway map guide plastered on the metallic walls. Background music on this part is KPop music.
Since Seoul Train Korean BBQ has a limited dining space, they also have a VIP tatami room ideal for big groups. It can seat around 12 to 15 people at a time. Reservations for it is at a consumable price of PhP 3, 000 (or 61.04 USD) on weekdays, or PhP 5, 000 (or 101.74 USD) on weekends.
Seoul Train Korean BBQ offers compressed towel tablets for one to clean one’s hands prior to eating. Eating Korean bbq (like a Korean) after all requires using one’s hands.
Yes, the towels expand after soaking it in water, expand and are disposable. It adds to the novelty of the restaurant since it’s seldom offered in Korean restaurants here in the Philippines.
Their selection is pretty much the same as most restaurants of this kind with a few differences.
For one, you don’t have unlimited banchan (or side dishes) here. You can only have them refilled once. It is honestly a bummer for people like me who digs their kimchis and sweet potato balls.
The above photo is the free side salad they offer. That side salad, ban chan, vegetable wraps, and soup are free with an order of meat for grilling.
The other difference is the ssamjang sauce, the typically served thick, spicy dipping sauce for the vegetable wrap, is not free.
Since our Korean BBQ experience won’t be complete without a ssamjang sauce, we ordered the SEOUL TRAIN SSAMJANG, PhP 100 (or USD 2.03). It’s pretty pricey for a sauce that is typically served for free. The fact that it’s served in a really small plate doesn’t help either. However, if you’ll disregard all of its bad points, their version of ssamjang is the best one I’ve tried yet. The mixture of sweet, salty and a little bit of spiciness is on point, and the included shrimp bits inside really helps add some depth to the flavor of the sauce.
We just hope they offer an ordinary version of ssamjang sauce as an alternative for people who don’t want to spend too much for a sauce.
There are a minimum order of two (2) items for a barbecue on the menu to be able to dine at Seoul Train Korean BBQ. We have no problems with it because since there is no better way of eating than eating it with someone or with a slew of friends.
For our meat, we played safe by ordering the classic beef and pork barbeque. All of it were grilled by Seoul Train’s attentive and experienced servers.
The SAMGYEOPSAL, PhP 350 (or 7.12 USD), three slabs of thick pork belly were cut into bite-sized pieces while being grilled. With proper flipping, the end result was a light golden crisp and juicy pork bellies which were perfect with the fresh lettuce and the Seoul Train Ssamjang sauce.
The GALBISAL, PhP 410 (or 13.22 USD), on the other hand, are boneless short rib fingers that are seasoned. The served beef was of quality.
It had the right amount of fat and it was really tender. There was no need for ssamjang sauce for this Korean barbecue as it was already succulent and tasty in itself.
They offered us one free cup of shaved ice with what tasted like black sugar syup. We craved for more as there were two of us sharing in just one, unfortunately, they weren’t still selling it during our visit.
The receipt you see above was copied from our receipt. We were negligent to not check our billing before paying and leaving. Please learn from us.
We just found about the discrepancies as we were doing our blog post. The Galbisal should be PhP 650 based on their menu. So we owe them PhP 250. Meanwhile for the tteokbokki, what we ordered was the one without the noodles and just asked for the extra cheese sauce. If it costs the same with the tteokbokki cheese and noodles, we would have ordered the one with the noodles instead because it’ll definitely be heavier.
Despite paying lower than what our actual bill should be, it makes us uncomfortable knowing that they are not careful in billing their customers. We hope that they won’t have pricing errors anymore once they fully open.
Upon reading, Seoul Train Korean BBQ look like a bad choice especially if you consider the limited side dishes, having to pay the necessary Ssamjang sauce at an expensive price, and small servings. However, if you are looking for a quality meat for a Korean barbecue, and not to mention Instagrammable interiors and a hip ambiance that kids of all ages will enjoy, you should definitely give it a try. We just recommend that you bring a higher budget than usual so you’ll feel satisfied after eating. Plus, don’t forget to make a reservation prior going there. Time after all is gold. Well, there’s no problem if you don’t mind waiting and you want to play in their toy crane machine.
If you still haven’t tried Korean barbecue yet, you won’t find it difficult to order from their menu because of the details they’ve put to describe their dishes. The knowledgeable servers also help you choose food.
We ate here on a soft opening so we are looking forward to returning here for their FULL menu. Also, they’ll have more seating capacity once the second floor of the restaurant opens.
Seoul Train Korean BBQ
28 Sergeant Esguerra Avenue, South Triangle, Tomas Morato, Quezon City.
Operating Hours: 11AM to 2PM and 5:30PM to 10PM daily.