This Boon Tat Street Korean restaurant Um Yong Baek 엄용백 is home to authentic Korean dishes, made faithfully and traditionally.
Star items on their different lunch and dinner BBQ menu are snatched up fast every day as a testament to their popularity.
The restaurant is famous for two things: Daejigukbab ($21 onwards) which is pork and rice soup, and three-way aged pork BBQ.
Getting a reservation is highly recommended, although each batch of new online slots (supposedly released every Friday at 5pm) fills up quickly (ie almost impossible to get).
Generally customers who gave negative ratings mostly feedback on the queueing system. Those who didn’t get a reservation successfully generally had to wait very long (or couldn’t get) a seat; or popular items are out before their turn.
One of the ways is to reach the restaurant earlier to get a slot via the link indicated at the entrance – but no guarantee.
I was one of those who went back earlier before opening hours to get a slot. Walking in, I could already understand why the fuss, because the restaurant is done up in an aesthetic contemporary-meets-traditional Korean fashion with earthy colours.
While there were some online reviews on the ‘messy service’, my table (and those around me) was friendly and promptly, as the ajumma helped in explaining the dishes and cutting the meats.
Lunch hours is when you can find the steaming bowls of Daejigukbab, done Busan style ($21) or Milyang style ($21).
Busan style Daejigukbab is made with pork meat for a clear broth. It is characterised by the fragrance of delicately prepared pork with each spoonful of rice and soup.
The Milyang style Daejigukbab, on the other hand, has a thicker broth made from boiling pork bones for hours.
Dinner time is when the restaurant brings out the much-anticipated meat kept in their chiller.
The three-way aged meat has been through water-aging, dry-aging and wet-aging, which is supposed to create a soft texture, condensed flavour and a juicy taste.
The pork even goes through the sous-vide process before it is brought to the table and grilled on charcoal.
If you are early, you might be able to get their Signature Pork Collar ($28), which is limited to 50 servings a day. I was one of the lucky ones to get a portion for myself.
The grilled slices of pork collar were so tender that there was very little bite needed. Its intense flavour is best complemented by wrapping with a piece of lettuce.
Get some Pork Belly with Skin ($27) at your table too, which was almost just as good, paired well with the kimchi which seemed tastier than the usual.
The ajumma helped to grill the meats which ended up with a beautiful light char, and taught us how to pair with the various sauces and pickled vegetables (like barley and onion not quite the typical) which enhanced the dining experience.
I had a bowl of Soondubu-jjigae ($15) to go with the barbecued meats, as the acidity helps to keep the meal from becoming too jelak. There is something about the fermented beans they use they makes this extremely earthy-tasting and flavourful.
There is also Doenjang-jjigae ($15) if that is what you prefer.
All things considered, Um Yong Baek offers quite a unique experience for a more authentic Korean cuisine.
Lunch and dinner have different offerings, but both should be a very rich meal experience for you – if you do get the seat.
Um Yong Baek 엄용백
27 Boon Tat Street, #01, Singapore 069623
Tel: +65 9870 5721
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 5:30pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Other Korean BBQ Restaurants
OMMA Korean Charcoal BBQ (Bukit Timah)
O.BBa BBQ & Jjajang (Tanjong Pagar)
Charim Korean BBQ (Tanjong Pagar)
Taste of Korea 찐 (T.O.K JJIN) (Amoy Street)
MIMI Korean BBQ Restaurant (Tanjong Pagar)