5.021 Mackerel Jorim

-Cycle 5, Item 21-
26 (Sun) January 2014

Mackerel Jorim


at Masan Garden


with CS Hahm +1

Another day--in fact, the very next day, for the first time ever--another dinner with the uncle (see most recently 5.020 Shrimp Cakes).

On this third occasion, I didn't mind going for Korean.

Masan Garden is a Korean restaurant.  Located in Makati.  One of the older establishments on the block, frequented largely by Korean expats--like my uncle--who've been around Manila since before the proliferation of Korean restaurants throughout the city--none of the Korean staff at WHO, who've been here for a couple years at most, had ever heard of it.  As with the vasty majority of Korean places abroad, the Masan Garden menu is eclectic, comprising the cuisine's most famous/popular dishes, as well as some Japanese dishes--as opposed to in Korea, where each place tends to specialize in a specific dish/genre/style.  

For starters, the side dishes weren't too bad.  They weren't that great, but they tasted authentic, like side dishes at a so-so restaurant in Korea.  In some ways, I'd prefer real deal blah side dishes to those that are good but localized (see for example 5.005 Ki for Ki).  

The main dishes, on the other hand, fell short in both taste and authenticity.  The mackerel jorim consisted of what I assume to be local fish, which was fishier, smaller, and seemingly bonier than Korean mackerel ("godeungeo").  Similarly, the beef in the galbi jjim was a bit gamy--beefier, perhaps--as beef in the Philippines characteristically is, compared to Korean beef, which is almost devoid of flavor, other than fat.  And the sauce was too salty, too sweet.  Oh well.

Never a shortage of booze here.

The sides (clockwise from top left): egg jangjorim, kimchi, white kimchi, tofu jeon, soy pickles, salada, bean sprouts and spinach namul.

galbi jjim


  1. WOW... That menu (especially the pictures of naengmyun) reminds me of the crappy NK-restaurants I visited in China last summer (not so much the restaurant in the actual NK, since I never saw a menu there...). I have to remember to stay away from those places... really such a waste of money... (but the waitresses were cute :) )

  2. such a bitter comment, things not going well these days?

    BTW, i have a post coming up dedicated to you, as that'll hopefully cheer you up. stay tuned!

  3. nonono I'm not bitter at all my friend... I just got reminded how North Korean restaurants kinda suck... You even wrote it yourself when you went to the North Korean restaurant in Cambodia that we both have visited!

    The funny difference was that back then I got a good impression of the place: our (cute) waitress was nice, we could take pictures of the place and even of our waitress... In the two NK restaurant I visited in Beijing and Dandong, respectively, I couldn't even take a picture of the menu before the ran up and told me to stop stop....

    Still, just the opportunity to interact with actual North Koreans might make it worth it :)

    Anyway, I'm doing great. Have largely adjusted to living in a reeeeeally small town (ca 20 000 people). And similarly to you, I have also a "eat in all places in a certain geographic area". In my case, I will try to eat at all places in Oskarshamn (my new hometown). Not sure how many there could be in total, but since it's Sweden it's not an impossible task...

    And I'm really looking forward to the post :)

  4. yes, i agree that NK restaurants generally kinda suck, at least the 2 that i've been to. in any case, I've vowed never again to go to one. not because of the food but because of the politics. paying for the "opportunity to interact" with them perpetuates a vicious cycle that i don't want to be part of.

    what variety of restaurants would a small swedish town have? anything "ethnic"?

  5. 1. Yeah.. you might have a point there...

    2. Speaking for my new hometown, I have to say that the variety is pretty good (especially for e.g. Korea..)

    First of all, every single Swedish town, no matter how small, will have a pizza restaurant (a "pizzeria"). Most of the times serving "swedenized" pizza (with toppings such a bernaise sauce or kebab). Most such places also serve kebab (e.g. in pita bread), and also hamburgers...
    Oskarshamn, where I live now, actually have tons of pizza places...

    Then most Swedish towns also have a "chinese" restaurant (e.g. "swedenized" chinese food, in the same way chinese food in Korea in koreanized and chinese food in the US often is americanized...)

    Except those two types of restaurant, of which there often are several, Oskarshamn also has one place serving thai/vietnamese food, one sushi restaurant, one restaurant serving indian food, one "steakhouse" restaurant, one fancy restaurant where you even can order (gasp!) swedish food... and a bunch of others... but overall, the variety is actually pretty being Sweden and being a town with just 20 000 inhabitants...

  6. pretty cool that you have at least a few choices. living in a Korean small town/city, there'd be nothing but korean, korean-chinese, cheap japanese (tonkatsu, etc), pizza, McD, maybe a crappy italian place, that's all.

    one thing that i'm beginning to realize about manila, even though the diversity is amazing, the quality is lacking in every case. One of my coworkers said, "Everything is there, but not quite there."

    i'd imagine that the quality of food in sweden would be pretty good.

    at sushi restaurants in sweden, do you eat just pickled herring and smoked salmon? at chinese restaurants, do you get meatballs in oyster sauce? at McD, do you get raggmunk instead of french fries? instead of ketchup, lingonberry jam?

  7. 1. It would all depend on where you go (you get what you pay for). But given the strict hygienic regulations we have here, everything will at least be safe to consume...

    2. Naah...nothing like that... the only way the chinese restaurants might be changed might be in how they serve food that is sweeter/saltier than the original, and/or less spicy.. and serving dishes that are neither swedish nor authentic chinese, such as deep-fried banana with ice cream as a dessert...

    speaking of asian cuisine and deserts; I have the impression that desserts is a pretty new/foreign concept, at least as far as chinese/korean/japanese cuisine is concerned? And thus the concept what "dessert" actually is is pretty mushy... I remember being served what was more or less just water with sugar in it and it being called "dessert" in Korea...

  8. 2. now i'm getting very curious about the asian food there. please taken photos of the korean restaurant!

    3. OMG!!!!! just tonight, a couple hours ago, i had dinner at a thai restaurant, and I had the most amazing deep-fried banana with ice cream!!! as u probably know, i usually hate dessert. and I only tasted it here as a courtesy, but i was totally blown away.

  9. 2. Unfortunately, there's no Korean restaurant in this town, probably not in the entire region.. but when I go to a Korean restaurant in Stockholm, I will make sure to take lots of photos and try review it... see the difference between Swedish Korean food to Korean Korean food.....
    I might try to do a review of one of the asian restaurants here too though... The only problem with that being that my knowledge of Asian food besides Korean food is pretty limited...

    3. Oh really? I remember a colleague telling me he saw an interview with the guy who opened the first chinese restaurant in Sweden... that restauranteur claimed to have "invented" that dessert (because chinese cuisne doesn't have desserts put he knew Swedish people would want to have desserts)... But in the same way a lot of those "old" restaurants you reviewed earlier claimed to have invented a lot of famous Korean dishes, it is probably all BS....

  10. 2. yes, as my spy, your next assignment is to profile korean food in sweden, i'm curious about the prices, from basic sundubu jjigae-type stews, to samgyeopsal, and soju. what types of banchan. who's cooking/managing/serving. and of course, is it (a) authentic and (b) good.

    3. i've seen deep-fried bananas at many other places, mostly southeast asian, so it'd be a rather bold lie to say that he invented it. then again, maybe he did, not realizing that others have done it before him (I sometimes create a dish on my own, but suspect that somebody else in history must've done the same thing). or maybe the translation was wrong, and he meant that he'd "developed" it for the local market, the way that thai/indian restaurants in korea "invent" their own pickle side dishes.

  11. 2. cool! looking forward to it! it have to wait until I have more time on my hand and get to visit some actual korean restaurants... like this summer :)
    3. that might be the case. like we previously discussed, similar dishes might be developed independently on different continents.. i.e. potato pancakes etc...