Some may wonder what the fuss is about the popular Korean dish Budae Jjigae, since it compromises of mainly ‘cheap’ ingredients of processed food such as spam, sausages, baked beans and sliced cheese.
This is closely related to its origins. The words “gun budae” is often used to refer to military camps in Korea.
After the Korean war, food was extremely scare and surplus processed foods from the US military bases became useful for the Korean. Surplus foods such as processed meat products from army bases, are used by people to create thick jjigae (stews).
Thus, the name “Army Stew”.
To me, the main differentiating factor between competing restaurants is always in its base, that it has a balanced mix of spiciness, saltiness and slight sweetness (from the tomato beans), with the density not overly gravy-thick, or soup-like thin.
Here are 10 Korean Restaurants that serve different forms of Army Stew aka Budae Jjigae In Singapore:
Twins Korean Restaurant
7 Craig Rd Singapore 089667 (Tanjong Pagar MRT)
Tel: +65 6221 5205
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 12:00am (Mon – Sat), 5:00pm – 11:00pm (Sun)
Twins Korean Restaurant is known for its array of Korean Fried Chicken and dishes, cooked up by a pair of Korean twin-chefs and their team.
While most Korean restaurants would call their Budae Jjigae Army Stew, Twins name their version Army Soup ($40).
I reckon it is because this is a soupier version, and like hotpot, the waitress added more soup halfway through the meal.
Our table was divided on this, as another friend preferred something more stew-like with thicker base. I actually enjoyed the process of continual slurping, so this worked for me.
I also liked the fact that the noodles were not cooked before hand, because it would have been too soggy otherwise. Twins Restaurant (Craig Road)
Kimchi Korean Restaurant
Suntec City Convention Tower, 3 Temasek Boulavard #02-387, Singapore 038983 (Esplanade , Promenade, City Hall MRT Station
Tel: +65 6337 7811
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Fri), 11:00am – 10:30pm (Sat – Sun)
I am a huge fan of Korean army stews, but I never had rice cake stew served this way before.
The Cheese Dduk Bok-ki Stew ($44.90) was like a cross between army stew, hotpot and oden.
There was a pot of spicy bean paste stew, where a box of ingredients came separate with compartments (now you know why I say oden).
Like having hotpot, you add ingredients that you like – from rice cake, prawns, mussels, oysters, crab, fish cake, luncheon ham, kim mari (Korean deep fried seaweed roll), cabbage, onion, jjol meon (chewy wheat Korean noodles), instant noodles and boiled egg. All at your own pace.
I would suggest having the stew on its own first, before adding the mozzarella cheese half-way through which would turn the base thicker and slightly saltier. Kimchi Korean Restaurant (Suntec City)
SEORAE – Jurong
Jem, 50 Jurong Gateway Road, #B1-10, Singapore 608549 (Jurong East MRT)
Tel: +65 9199 8729
Opening Hours: 11.30am – 10.00pm (Sun – Thurs), 11.30am – 11.00pm (Fri – Sat)
If this pot looks like a ”yuan-yang” duo hotpot, it probably is – but Korean version.
The 2-in-1 Jjigae ($45.90, Special Promo $98 with additional 3 BBQ meats) is best for people who are fond of variety and choices.
What you get are two hearty Korean broths in hot Korean pot, in which you can choose from 5 different options – Kimchi, Gochujang (red chilli), spicy and non-spicy Doenjang (bean paste), and Bulgogi soup base.
The stew also comes with a plate of pork collar or beef belly, complete with generous servings of zuchini, onion, beancurd, glass noodle, spring onion, and enoki and shiitake mushrooms.
I got the kimchi and bulgogi as I wanted a combination of both spicy and non.
While my dining partner preferred the clear and sweetish bulgogi-based broth which tasted plainer and complemented well with the pork collar slices, I enjoyed the Kimchi more which was close to an army stew – rich and hearty. Seorae (Jem)
City Square Mall, #05-04, Singapore 208539
Tel: +65 6634 2668
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 10:00pm
Reserve Online Now – Seoul Jjimdak
Seoul Jjimdak’s Army Stew ($36.90) is known for its slurp-worthy homemade kimchi stew base and price.
Their Budae Jjigae was almost exploding with ingredients of luncheon meat (happy there was quite a lot in proportion), pork belly strips, assorted vegetables, baked beans and tofu, and do go for a Ramyeon ($2.90) top-up for a more satisfying treat.
The soup was mildly thick with a lingering of baked bean taste, and the kimchi deliciously and just moderately spicy. Seoul Jjimdak (City Square Mall)
Market Square @ Downtown East 1 Pasir Ris Close, E!Avenue #02-324 Singapore 519599
Tel: +65 63868562
Opening Hours: 11:30 am – 10:00pm Daily
Popular Korean Toppoki restaurant Mukshidonna from Korea has opened in Singapore, with its first outlet located at Downtown East, Pasir Ris.
The restaurant has also received its Halal certification, so Muslim friends can go to enjoy some Korean stew.
While Mukshidonna is commonly known to serve delicious Budae Jjigae (Army Stew), they have branded themselves as a “Toppoki” restaurant.
There is the option to customize your own pot, with 5 different flavors to choose from: Cheese, Mussels, Bulgogi, Sausages and Mushroom.
The basic tteokbokki base is priced $13.90 a portion, per pax. You can choose to mix-and-match, example one portion of cheese, another of mussels for a party of 2.
Unlike other army stew base, Mukshidonna’s mild spicy yet sweet signature sauce will thicken as it boils. Mukshidonna Singapore (Pasir Ris)
Donjjang Korean Restaurant
33 Mohamed Sultan Rd #01-05, Singapore 238977
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 12:00am Daily
Donjjang at 33 Mohamed Sultan Road is one of those Korean restaurants that completely goes under the radar.
The Army Stew aka Budae Jjigae ($45) is good for 2 to 3 to share.
I found that Donjjang managed to strike this well, making this one of my favourite Budae Jjigae in Singapore. Though I could imagine some may wish that it can be spicier or more kimchi-tangy. Donjjang (Mohamed Sultan Road
Alexandra Central, 321 Alexandra Road #03-01 Singapore 159971
Tel: +65 6250 3119
Opening Hours: Lunch 11:30am – 3:00pm (Mon – Sat), Dinner 5:30pm – 10:00pm (Mon – Sun), Closed Sun Lunch
The Gogi at Alexandra Central is an authentic Korean BBQ restaurant, though the shop seems lonely because some of its neighbouring units are still unoccupied.
The Budae Jungol ($35 for M, $45 for L) Korean style army stew was packed with the usual ingredients of sausages, spam, tofu, mushroom, rice cakes and ramen noodles.
I liked that brand of noodles they were using (must find out the next time), though wished there was some kind of sliced meat somewhere.
Flavours wise, the intensity was somewhere in the middle, and marked a taste which is likely to be family-friendly.
Wang Dae Bak Korean BBQ Restaurant
Telok Ayer Conservation Area, 98 Amoy Street Singapore 069918
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm (Mon – Sat), 5:30pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Sat), Closed Sun
Another Branch at China Square Central #01-64, 22 Cross Street
Do not be alarmed if you cannot find “Army Stew” on Wang Dae Bak’s menu. This particular dish is called “Ham & Pork Noodle Soup” ($38++) over there.
”Same, same”, the waitress exclaimed. ”Top up $3 for more noodles, $3 for cheese, $3 for soup refill”
I imagined a stew that would be thicker and more savoury, theirs turned out to be rather watery, okay soupy with a sweet tinge. A lot of spam and sausages though – they know what Singaporeans want. But where’s my meat?
Havelock II, 2 Havelock Road, #01-03, Singapore 059763
Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
The Budae Jjigae (Army Stew) comes in 2 sizes for sharing ($24.90 for Medium/ $34.90 for Large).
A single portion known as Army Noodles ($12.90) is also available.
Using the same beef bone broth as a soup base, topped with tofu, sausage, tteopokki, spam and kimchi, it made the perfect dish for a cold, rainy day. Daejon House (Havelock II Mall)
Hansul Korean Dining Bar
21 Tanjong Pagar Road, #01-05, Singapore 088444
Opening Hours: 5pm – 6am Daily
The Budae Jjigae ($25) also known as “Korean Army Stew” had a different presentation compared to the conventional way of having all the ingredients laid out in the pot.
Instead, the ingredients were served in dim sum baskets, before adding them slowly to the broth. Ah, gimmicky.
The stew was filled with spam, sausage, ham, kimchi dumpling, baked beans, sliced rice cakes and vegetables.
I feedback that the broth was on the salty side, and was told this was done to complement the alcohols. Hansul Korean Dining Bar (Tanjong Pagar)