I’ve been searching for a good quality Korean BBQ place – the kind that has the perfect cuts of meat and the perfect ambience for a laid-back meal.
Chancing upon Mapo Galmaegi along the quaint streets of Telok Ayer finally put an end to my search. This Korean BBQ restaurant prides itself on its Galmaegi, which is tender pork cooked on a specialised grill, surrounded by an egg crust.
Contrary to many other Korean BBQ restaurants, Mapo Galmaegi is a cosy and intimate space for any small or big group gatherings.
We started our meal with a simple serving of ban-chan dishes. The Black Sesame Sauce Salad was the most interesting dish, with fresh vegetables and a sauce that was light on the palate.
The Aged Kimchi, a speciality at Mapo Galmaegi, was well-seasoned and complemented the other dishes very well.
The first dish that sizzled on our specialised grill was the Kkotsal Jumulleok ($36), a marinated boneless grilled beef. Though the quantity didn’t quite match up to the price, the quality of the tender cut beef definitely made up for it.
The beef was juicy and less oily, which was a perfect match to the citrusy sauce provided. The sauce also added a nice tangy flavour to the beef slices. If you are a huge fan of beef, go for the Beef Platter ($75 / $130) which would be the ideal solution to your cravings with a mix of both marinated and non-seasoned beef cuts.
True to the name of the restaurant, the Mapo Galmaegi ($23) was the highlight of our meal and was the juiciest cut of pork I’ve ever eaten. The meat was low in fat and high in unsaturated fatty acids making it a low-calorie option that still delivered in terms of flavour.
Not to forget, the store’s specialised grill that comes with a special feature – the egg crust around the sides. The egg, mixed with aged kimchi, julienne green onion, and shredded raw daikon, is poured onto the sides of the grill when you first start your BBQ experience.
Throughout the meal, you can choose to have it steamed, well-cooked or over-cooked. Though it was rather bland for me, it served as a pretty good contrast to the heavy meaty flavours.
We also tried the Mapo Kaisamgyupsal ($19), which is Pork Belly Tenderized by a hand knife, creating a thick and chewy cut of the pork belly. Though it was on the oily side, having it with the fresh vegetable wraps and soybean sauce gave it a different edge.
I would suggest ordering the Pork Platter ($65/ $115) that also comes with a variety of pork cuts and non-seasoned/seasoned options if you’re up for a hearty meal.
Given our huge order of heavy meat dishes, we decided to also try the Haemul Sundubu ($13) which is a spicy soft tofu stew with assorted seafood. It was a very simple dish and wasn’t the best that I’ve tried, but was a comforting and good balance to the meat that we were enjoying.
To top it all off, order a bottle of Soju ($15) or the Grapefruit Soju ($19) that is unique to the store.
Mapo Galmaegi definitely lived up to its claim of being Korea’s No. 1 Korean BBQ Restaurant, with the high quality of meats that are served and the impeccable service. Though still relatively new, try to avoid the peak hours during weekday lunch times and Friday and Saturday nights, to get the perfect ambience for your Korean BBQ gathering with friends and family.
Expected damage: $30 – $35 per person