And the one restaurant that is always popular with long queue is O.BBa BBQ (at 63 Tanjong Pagar Road).
Only walk-ins are allowed with no reservation, which means that some customers do come slightly before the restaurant’s opening hour to better secure a seat.
HOWEVER, not many people know O.BBa BBQ has expanded with another outlet, a few shops away at Unit 59.
This branch is a two-in-one concept – with both BBQ and Jjajang offerings in a single restaurant.
If you are hankering for Korean fare, here is a place where you can enjoy both barbecue and Korean-Chinese cuisine in the likes of Jajangmyeon, Jjamppong and Tangsuyuk at the same time.
Its cosy interior is decked with a row of booth seats, ideal for small group dining. The soju bottles-lined wall and neon lights herald fun dining vibes as you celebrate over BBQ, noodles, and of course, soju or a cold bottle of Hite beer.
The menu is quite extensive, including even Japchae and Japchae Rice ($19), Shrimp Fried Rice ($15), Gunmandu ($12 for 8 pcs), Garlic Chicken ($35), Kkanpunggi ($38, $48, $58), Budae Jjigae aka Army Stew ($40), Kimchi Pancake ($22), Ginseng Chicken Soup ($19), Jokbal or Pig Trotters ($48) and Bossam ($39).
If you are divided at what to choose from, get the BBQ set A, B, or C because it is really value-for-the-money.
BBQ Set A ($89) is beef-focused with GgokSal (prime beef), DeungSim (sirloin) and USamGeup (thinly sliced beef short plate); Set B ($79) has GgokSal, SamGyupSal (pork belly) and DaePaeSamGyupSal (thin-sliced pork belly); while Set C includes SamGyupSal, DaePaeSamGyupSal, and HangJungSal (pork jowl). (Pictured above is Set B.)
The sets good for 2 to 3 pax to share include a choice of noodles, rice, or stew such as Jajangmyeon, Kimchi Stew or Sundubu Jjigae, AND a steamed egg for free.
Also O.BBa is generous with its Korean banchan or sides like kimchi, mashed potatoes, long beans, cucumber and many more – wide selection plus a few surprises here and there. Here’s more:
BBQ GgokSal, USDA Prime Beef (180g) ($43 ala carte, or part of BBQ Set A or B)
Make your BBQ night extra special with an order of this premium beef. Double the usual size, an order gives you a plate of 180g of meat for your grilling pleasure.
It’s #JMT (Jon-Mat-Taeng) ‘존맛탱’.
See how fresh the meat slices are, but more so, taste how soft and savoury they become after a few seconds on the grill. The marbling results in a succulent piece of USDA Prime Beef.
The slanted metal griddle takes care of the fats as it drips down after flavouring your beef.
Grill together with garlic, onions, mushrooms, or whatever you fancy.
An option for eating is to place grilled beef on a fresh lettuce with some ssamjang (condiment made with seasoned mixture of chili paste and soy bean paste), and roll up to make ssam (wrap) and eat in one mouthful.
SamGyupSal, Sliced Pork Belly (90g) ($22 for ala carte, part of BBQ Set B or C)
Try the wildly popular SamGyupSal, almost synonymous to some as Korean BBQ. pork belly.
With an optimal grilling temperature and optimal thickness of 3cm, you can taste that extra bite, tenderness and robust flavour compared to ordinary pork.
Better yet, let the O.BBa’s staff grill them for you to the right degree of doneness.
Take a piece of grilled pork belly, dip it in gireum-jang (sauce made with fragrant sesame oil, salt and black pepper), then pop into your mouth in one go.
DaePaeSamGyupSal, thin-sliced pork belly (10 pcs) ($19 for ala carte, part of BBQ Set B or C)
SamGyupSal (or “three layer flesh”) comes in many varieties, but DaePae is simply unmarinated and unseasoned thin slices of pork belly.
Machine sliced for optimal thinness, the pork belly is served without skin and comes in 10 pieces.
The striations of lean meat and fat make it ideal for grilling, as the fat melts and stimulates the pork taste.
Complement the plain meat with garlic, onions, green chili peppers, mushroom and even kimchi grilled over fat trickling from the pork belly.
Sundubu Jjigae ($13 ala carte or free with BBQ set)
As part of the BBQ set, you can pick a free item from the options of Jajangmyeong, Jjamppong, Fried Rice, Kimchi Stew, Miso Stew, or Sundubu Jjiagae.
I would recommend having the Sundubu Jjigae, prepared completely in-house using the head chef’s secret recipe (no off the shelf sauces). The ingredients are also freshly prepared daily for the day’s order.
The stock used to make the soup base was flavourful, as it uses quite a variety of seafood from prawns to squid.
I found the bowl chock full of ingredients; base rich and robust, just mildly spicy, with that alluring seafood sweetness.
The following Korean-Chinese cuisine items are also available at O.BBa Jjajang.
Jajangmyeon ($13, $14 with fried egg)
Known for its distinct black-coloured sauce, this Jjajangmyeon is made of yellow handmade noodles that are smooth, chewy and springy.
It is served with diced pork, vegetables, and topped with chujang, thick black bean sauce made from roasted soy beans and caramelised onions.
I think O.BBa Jjajang serves one of the best Jajangmyeon in Singapore. The sauce has a starchy texture but not too grainy and a slightly sweet-earthy taste.
If you like saucy dishes, the generous sauce-to-noodle ratio makes this a treat. But it is best to mix the noodles and sauce and eat right away as the noodles tend to stick together if left there for a while.
GoChu Jajangmyeon ($14)
Have a taste of Jajangmyeon’s sassy spicy sibling, GoChu Jajangmyeon. Providing heat to this dish is the essential Korean chilli powder aka gochugaru, made with ground sun-dried chili peppers.
Though not in the high altitude range of spice meters, the gochugaru adds a pleasant medium heat and a slightly smoky flavour.
Slices of fresh red and green chilies are added alongside the gochugaru topping. Its vibrant colours pop out from the blanket of black chujang sauce over the handmade noodles.
Jjamppong ($16, $18 with beef)
This spicy seafood Chinese-style noodle dish features a chockful of ingredients, from the freshest veggies to a miscellany of seafood. Includes shrimps, mussels, clams, and squid.
You will notice a smoky flavour, which comes from the wok-fried cooking technique in high heat. In swift motion, the flames quickly touch the tossed stir-fried veggies and seafood.
Cooked in a fiery pork-based broth (though not the numbing kind) with wok-hei.
Be mindful of the serving size – this bowl is huge. Large enough for sharing actually.
There is a Chadol Jjamppong ($18) version which includes chadol or beef brisket; or Budae Jjamppong ($16) which has army stew elements.
New in O.BBa’s menu is Kkanpunyuk, a deep-fried pork dish in a hot pepper sauce. Because of its fried and spicy flavours, it is ideal as anju or bar chow.
It is made with bite-sized pieces pork, combined with sliced lotus root, and diced red and green chili peppers.
My favourite part was the crunchy and mildly sweet lotus root which adds a slightly nutty flavour to the dish and a pleasant texture.
Tangsuyuk ($28, $38, $49)
Tangsuyuk is another beloved Korean-Chinese dish, much like the Shandong-original jjajangmyeon. Available in 3 sizes, this dish is ideal as an appetiser for sharing.
Bite-sized cuts of pork are seasoned with pepper and marinated in soy sauce, then tossed in a potato starch batter before deep-frying.
The pork crust turns slightly chewy yet crispy. Served alongside a small pitcher of a delightfully sweet and tangy sauce, a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and even some carrots, onions, and cucumber, and wood ear mushroom.
Before eating, pour sauce generously onto the fried pork and let the meats’ crunchy exterior soak up all the sweet and sour sauce.
Cheese HaeMulPaJeon ($28)
The traditional Korean pancake haemul pajeon made from a batter of mixed seafood and spring onions takes on a cheesy spin.
Served topped with melted mozzarella cheese, the crisp-on-the edge soft-centred pancake turns pizza-like as you get that satisfying cheese pull on each slice.
O.BBa BBQ & Jjajang
59 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088484
Opening Hours: 4:30pm – 2am Last Order 1am (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
63 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088484
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 5pm – 11:30pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
77 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088498
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
O.BBa Jjajang & BBQ
19 Cheong Chin Nam Road, Singapore 599743
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 5pm – 11pm (Mon, Wed – Sun), Closed Tues
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with O.BBa BBQ & Jjajang