24 Popular Korean Restaurants & Cafes, That Arrived From Korea To Singapore
Korean BBQ, bingsu, Andong Jjimdak, Korean fried chicken, churros, softserve, candy floss coffee … the Korean wave is reaching us strong and fierce all right.
Some sumptuously tasty, some just pure photogenic. These are some 20 over Korean famous food brands that reached Singapore, most brought in by a franchise model.
My friend had a rude shock when he learnt that 4 Fingers is not a Korean brand “WHAT?!”, and interesting to note that most of the Korean Bingsu shop in Singapore are operated by Koreans who stay and work here, or local (not so much of a franchise model).
24 Popular Korean Restaurants & Cafes That Arrived In Singapore. The Year Of K-Food
313 Somerset #B3-02 (next to Chir Chir) 313 Orchard Rd Singapore 238895 (Somerset MRT)
Tel: +65 6509 5808
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (last order 9:30pm), 11am – 11pm (last order 10:30pm)
Masizzim (pronounced ma-see-zim, hard to spell, I know) is the combination of two Korean words – ‘masi’ which is short for ‘delicious’ and ‘jjim’ for stew.
The hip casual restaurant serves modern dishes at quite affordable rates friendly to the pocket. Expect signature stews, rice balls, pancakes and kimchi fried rice. Great for group outings. (Read: Masizzim Singapore 313 Somerset)
Raffles City Shopping Centre B1-44F, 252 North Bridge Road Singapore 179103 (City Hall MRT)
Tel: +65 6533 3951
Opening Hours: 11.30 am – 10 pm Daily
THIS IS HUGE, and SPICY. Please get some friends to share. Andong Jjimdak (the dish) is a seasoned and simmered chicken dish that originated in Gyeongsangbukdo, Andong. You may have seen Andong Zzimdak (the restaurant brand) at Myeong-dong where there are several other competing shops.
This popular Korean dish consists of chopped chicken parts, potatoes, onions, vegetables and sweet potato noodles, mixed with a spicy soy-based sauce and then simmered. Fresh green chili pepper called “Cheongyang gochu” is added to provide that distinct spiciness. (Read: Andong Zzimdak Raffles City)
Vatos Urban Tacos
36 Beach Road Singapore 189767
Tel: +65 6385 6010
Opening Hours: 11:30 – 11pm (Mon – Thurs), 11:30pm – 1pm
When one thinks of Korean cuisine, Kimchi Carnitas Fries and Tacos rarely come to mind, unless you are talking about Korean restaurant chain Vatos Urban Tacos. It was once termed by CNN as “the hottest new restaurant in Seoul”.
Other than the Kimchi Carnitas Fries, other recommended items include Galbi Short Rib Tacos (marinated short rib, ssamjang aioli, Asian slaw, cilantro, chopped onions, and roasted sesame seeds on a handmade tortilla) and Mango Prawn Quesadillas (chipotle marinated prawn flash fried and topped with cilantro lime crema and fresh mango salsa).
Banana Tree Singapore
26 Keong Saik Road Singapore 089133
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Tues-Sat), 12pm – 7pm (Sun), Closed Mon
The arrival of this café has excited Korean pop culture lovers, café hoppers and food instagrammers, because it is THE Banana Tree café.
The South Korean café chain is popular for its banana theme decorations, yellow and white clean look, and pretty potted plant desserts. This is one of those days that you have coffee with cotton candy. How can? But works for pictures. Chio mah! (Read: Banana Tree Keong Siak)
Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk #02-150 Singapore 098585 (between TCC and Sushi Tei)
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm (Mon-Sun)
The popular Caffebene, voted the best coffee brand in Korea has opened its first Singapore outlet at Vivocity.
Similar to other outlets around the world, there is that iconic Caffebene clock, indoor tree and a vintage touch in its interior. (Read: Caffebene Singapore Vivocity)
Paris Baguette Singapore
JEM #02-20, Tampines Mall #01-32, Bugis Junction B1-24/25, One Raffles Place basement, Changi Airport T2 Level 1 Public Area.
If you are thinking this is some French brand, nope. This chain is actually the top Korean bakery, receiving “constant love” for its freshly baked bread, cakes, sandwiches, desserts and brunch items.
It has over 3500 stores in Korea, US and China. None in Paris though.
The cakes we try – a strawberry cream Mille-Feuille, cute Wahaha Chocolate Cake, and Peach Tart (between $6.50 and $8.50), are pretty to look at, but not so pretty to eat. Some dry, some lacking that delicate touch. (Read: Paris Baguette Wisma Atria)
Tom N Toms
12 Gopeng Street #01-12 Icon Village Singapore 078877
Tel: +65 6225 6313
Tom N Toms 탐엔탐스커피 must be one of Korean’s largest café chains that can found internationally. It is also one of the earliest Korean café to set food in Singapore. Remember the ones at Far East Plaza and Vivocity? Unfortunately, the Korean fever was not waving that hard then.
Munch on toast, pretzels, pastries and bingsu – with flavours of Green Tea and Red Bean ($11.90), Mango ($10.90), Taro ($9.90), Yogurt Cheesecake ($12.90) and Milk Tea ($10.90). A favourite venue for CBD executive and groups of students for discussions and book-mugging. Free WIFI and quiet sitting area.
201 Victoria Street #04-01 Bugis Plus Singapore 188067 (Bugis MRT)
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm Daily
Churro101 has gained a huge fan base since its opening in 2011. Some of its fans include top K-pop groups likes Girls’ Generation, F(x), Miss A and Girls’ Days.
They say their churros are “Better than a boyfriend”. Whatever that means. The shop has adopted a show kitchen concept where people get to see how the churros are being prepared, making the process more visual and engaging. Long queues during opening days. Not anymore. (Read: Churro101 Bugis Plus)
ION Orchard #B4-61, 2 Orchard Turn Singapore 238801 (Orchard MRT)
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon-Sun)
With a total of 18 outlets in Korea, Mr Churro calls itself “an artisanal churros kiosk producing delectable churros with the best ingredients”, now opened as a takeaway kiosk at Orchard ION Basement 4.
The churros come in many different shapes, some in over-the-top fashion – curved, lengthy, or a few sticking out of a softserve cup. As if just one is not enough. (Read: Mr Churro Singapore ION Orchard)
The Cathay #01-03, Velocity Novena #01-19, The Star Vista #B1-06, Tampines 1 #B1-K17, Jurong IMM #01-K06, Jurong Point #B1 – 27
The Korean organic soft serve ice cream. Milk Cow’s soft serves are made from organic milk from grass-fed cow free of preservatives.
The popular flavours include the Milk Cube ($5.90) added with organic natural honey comb, Snow Drop ($5.90) which has an instagram-worthy cotton candy topping (which really ranges in portion), Milky Shot ($6.50) with a single shot of espresso, and Mocao Dream ($6.50) with handcrafted macaron and almond flakes. Warning: Melts super fast in this weather, even inside the malls. (Read: Milk Cow The Cathay)
Sweet Monster Singapore
Novena Square, Bugis Junction
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon-Sun)
Korean franchise Sweet Monster ate its way into Singapore, known for its softserve covered with crispy popcorn, and landed a spot at Plaza Singapura as a takeaway kiosk.
Their signature Mix Flavour Popcorn Ice Cream ($6.80) comes with both cheese and caramel flavoured popcorns. Only available in one cup size (highly recommended for sharing because it is very sweet), the height of the ice cream could vary depending on the skill of the scooper. (The popcorn a bit lao long). (Read: Sweet Monster Plaza Singapura)
321 Clementi, 321 Clementi Avenue 3, #02- 09, Singapore 129905 (Clementi MRT)
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Mon-Sun)
Popular Korean Fried Chicken, Vons Chicken, with more than 150 outlets worldwide (USA, China, Australia etc) since 1989 had opened their first outlet in Singapore at 321 Clementi Ave 3. The signature dish is their 4pcs Golden Wings – Soy Garlic ($5.40), only available as a fried option.
You can get the other flavours in 2 forms – Fried or Oven Roasted in options of 4pcs Wings & Drums ($5.40), 5 pcs Boneless ($5.90) and 2pcs Drumsticks ($7.20). Set meals with regular fries and drinks at an additional $2.50. Very value-for-money. (Read: Vons Chicken Clementi)
Chir Chir 치르치르
[email protected] #B3-04/05/06, Singapore 238895
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon-Thurs, Sun), 11am – 11pm (Fri-Sat)
Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory is a popular Korean restaurant chain specialising in deep fried Korean style chicken and other freshly cooked chicken dishes such as Spicy BBQ Roasted Chicken, Garlic Roasted Chicken and Crispy Fried Tenders.
Not forgetting the Snow Nest with deep fried chicken tenders swimming in a pool of rich creamy white sauce, a scoop of sweet salad hidden below. Diet plans have to step aside. (Read: Chir Chir 313 @ Somerset)
*Scape 2 Orchard Link #02-39 Singapore 237978
Tel: +65 6509 0907
Opening Hours: 11am-10pm, last order 9:15pm daily (Mon-Thurs, Sun), 11am – 11pm last order 10:15pm (Fri, Sat)
Other branches at Star Vista, Bedok Mall, The Seletar Mall, Eastpoint Mall, Hougang Mall
I know everyone kind of jokes about their popcorn chicken – The NeNe Pop. Like, “Can I have two Nene Pops, please” can sound so wrong.
What I liked about NeNe was that despite the chicken being coated with rich sauce, the skin and batter still remains rather crisp. Though sometimes I had disappointing ones – mid-soggy and not so piping hot as it should had been. (Read: NeNe Chicken Scape)
Bonchon Chicken 본촌치킨
201 Victoria Street, #01-11 Bugis+ (former Illuma, opposite Bugis MRT), Singapore 188067, Tel: +65 6884 4768
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 11:0pm
Bonchon Chicken is enjoying greater fame overseas than our Singapore unit. Unfortunately. Service (or the lack of) and long waiting times were its greatest liability here.
Their chicken is deep fried twice – so the skin becomes crunchier and the meat less greasy when compared to the usual American fast food fried chicken. It feels kind of pricey though.
The skin comes off in pieces, with the sauces nicely enveloping it. The meat not quite like the usual, is tasty and not too oily. Plus point, it didn’t leave much of a stain on your fingers even if we used hands directly.
VivoCity, #02-123/124, 1 Harbourfront Avenue, Singapore 098585. Tel: +65 6376 8268
The Star Vista, #02-24, 1 Vista Exchange Green, Singapore 138617. Tel: +65 6694 4696
Opening Hours: 11:30am to 10.00pm Daily
This is Korea’s leading BBQ restaurant, led by famous celebrity chef Jon Won Paik, and this restaurant franchise has more than 30 outlets across Korea, the US, China and Indonesia.
Chef Jon Won Paik wanted to create a new style of BBQ meat that could retain the natural colours and taste, unlike many other Korean style meat which are dark in colour due to over marinating. The result is the signature and patented Woo Sam Gyup – thinly sliced beef brisket dressed a special sauce. Like it, but expensive. (Read: Bornga Vivocity)
200 Victoria Street, Bugis Junction #02-47/48 Singapore 188021 (Bugis MRT)
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Yoogane (요가네 pronounced yoo-ga-nay is a chicken galbi restaurant from Busan Korea. It is established in 1981, is quite a famous ‘Dakgalbi’ restaurant back home – selling tender chicken meat in a spicy sauce marinate.
Fans who braved queues said that it tasted almost the same, just perhaps less in portions to the Korean counterpart. (Read: Yoogane Singapore Bugis Junction)
NEUE B2-53 Capitol Piazza, 15 Stamford Road, Singapore 178906
Tel: +65 6384 1020
J-Story is better known as Juk Story back home, known for its Teuk Jeonbok Juk (Rice Porridge with Abalone).
Other than 8 types of porridge sold, including Abalone ($12.90), Ginseng & Chicken ($8.90), Crab ($12.90), and Mushroom & Vegetable ($8.90), the ‘health’ element is not too apparent on the menu. (Read: J-Story Capitol Piazza)
Habourfront Centre, 1 Maritime Square, #01-99/100, Singapore 099253 (Harbourfront MRT)
Tel: +65 6271 3033
Jurong Point Shopping Centre, 63 Jurong West Central 3, #B1-45/46, Singapore 648331 (Boon Lay MRT)
Tel: +65 6686 3108
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10:00pm
The food is modernised by Korean Celebrity Chef Choi In Sun (sorry but I do not know who he is), known for his Korean food show “The Starking Series” and fedora hats. The signature is a Chef’s Guksoo which is kind of ramyun meets ramen, yet with its own unique quality.
The broth is an off-white light savoury- sweet flavoured beef broth, spicy but not the type of intense Korean-spicy you would have otherwise expected, and topped with stewed pork bulgogi, vegetables, and a signature rectangular egg-roll. Which is really like the sweet Japanese tamago found on sushi. (Read: Chef’s Noodle Harbourfront)
252 North Bridge Road, #B1-74 Raffles City Shopping Centre, Singapore 179103
Tel: +65 6336 4745
Suntec City Mall #B1-107, 3 Temasek Boulevard Singapore 038983
Tel: +65 65 6338 5809
The brand “Bibigo” is a Korean-English portmanteau from Korean bi-bi-da, to mix, and English, to-go, serving modern Korean dishes.
They are known for their Hot Stone Bibimbap, Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Stew) and Mandoo (Dumplings) – tasting healthier than the usual Korean restaurants though. You may have seen a PSY standee outside their restaurant.
Tiong Bahru Plaza #02-11, 302 Tiong Bahru Road Singapore 168732
Other branches: Bedok Mall, NTU, Vivocity, City Link Mall, Mapletree Business City, JEM
Bibimbap is a representative Korean food that you would find in many family style restaurants, but Paik’s Bibim is dedicated in specialising in this one dish.
I enjoy this as a fuss-free casual meal, hopefully heathier, as some selections contain a lot of greens mixed with Gochujang sauce.
Popular options include Beef Bulgogi ($8.50), Teriyaki Chicken ($8.50), Woosamgyup ($8.90), and Seafood ($8.90).
40 Pasir Panjang Road, #02-39 Mapletree Business City, Singapore 117383 (Labrador MRT)
Opening Hours: 7.30am – 8pm (Mon – Fri), Closed Sat – Sun
Other Branch at Tiong Bahru Plaza Level 2 Food Street
If you have been to Seoul Korea, Paik’s Coffee chain is almost EVERYWHERE, known to be both cheap and fashionable. How difficult to achieve.
Paik’s Coffee is distinctive from the rest of the Korean coffee chains in terms of price point, 15cm tall cup size and the bright colours .
A cup of Iced Americano is priced at $3 whereas a cup of Iced Latte at $4, cheaper than other coffee chains. Size wise, at approximately 500ml a cup (that’s half a litre!).
Pretty much a good deal. Paik’s Coffee (Mapletree Business City)
Kiss The Tiramisu
277 Orchard Road #01-15 Orchard Gateway Singapore 238858 (Somerset MRT)
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 10:30pm
Popular Korean dessert shop Kiss The Tiramisu has opened at Singapore in Orchard Gateaway.
The shop is located at a rather obscure corner, next to Dazzling Café, diagonally opposite Kanshoku Ramen.
If you had to pick a choice between the Original, Banana and Berries, go for the classic flavour. It would be a safe choice, and there would be more layers and intricacies to make you feel it is more worth it. Kiss The Tiramisu Singapore (Orchard Gateway)
Fans of Descendants Of The Sun DOTS should be familiar with this café, where “Big Boss” Song Joong Ki had coffee with Song Hye-kyo in the drama series, several times. (Remember the scene when they broke up? *so sad*)
The good news is, the Korean cafe is going to open in Singapore!
Dal Komm which means ‘sweet’ in Korean, opened its first store in the trendy Gangnam District in Seoul in 2011, and is rapidly expanding its operations in Malaysia, China and Singapore.
Location is *secret* for now, but the big likelihood would be downtown Orchard at The Centrepoint. Stay tuned here for updates!
What is your favourite? And which brand do you hope to see come to our sunny shores?
Other Related Entries
34 Places To Get Korean Bingsu In Singapore
10 Best Korean Cafes In Singapore
16 Best Korean Fried Chicken In Singapore
Masizzim Singapore (313 Somerset)
Vons Chicken (Clementi)
* Compiled by Daniel Ang @DanielFoodDiary . Photos partly by Nicholas Tan @stormscape.
July 14, 2017