5.034 Taste Test: Made-in-Manila Kimchi (+ Samgyeopsal)

 -Cycle 5, Item 34-
8 (Sat) February 2014

Taste Test: Made-in-Manila Kimchi (+ Samgyeopsal)


by me

in my apartment

-Ermita, Manila-


As promised to reader SKim a few days ago (see comments under 5.015 2-Piece Chickenjoy Meal), I've conducted a taste test of local kimchi.  

The candidates were limited to the 3 brands on the shelf at Robinsons Supermarket in Robinsons Place shopping mall.  Although unable to verify at this point, the brands all appear to have been mass/factory-produced in Manila by Korean-owned companies.  From the same brands, different variations were available (e.g., radish), but I stuck to the classic napa cabbage, referred to here as "Chinese cabbage."

The "oriental" section.

For the smallest 200-gram size, the prices were all somewhere around 65 pesos per bottle.

Kimchi is also available in smaller Korean marts, presumably made in-house, small batches, packaged in unsealed/unlabeled containers, which is what I was eating in that prior post; later down the road, I may do a separate taste test of such proprietary bottlings from the half dozen Korean marts within walking distance of my apartment.

There's also imported kimchi from Korea.

At Robinsons Supermarket, meats are offered by different vendors, each with slightly different cuts, levels of quality...

...and price points.

I went with Mrs. Garcia's because the pork belly had the fat:flesh ratio that I prefer.

Additional pork offerings; still a bit uneasy about everything being out in the open like this.


Prepared meats.

Test aside, I still wanted to make a meal out of it.  After considering various pairing options, I went with samgyeopsal, which I've always maintained is kimchi's ideal partner, especially with soju on hand to chaperone (see generally 4.355 Pan-Fried Samgyeopsal & Kimchi & Soju).  Kimchi works wonders with a lot of other foods, of course, like Spam & fried eggs (see for example 1.101 My Good Ole Contingency Meal), but I figured that the plain samgyeopsal would allow more of the kimchi to come through--sorry, Gustaf.  

Ridiculously cheap at 240 pesos per kg (about KRW 600 per 100 g or USD 2.40 per lb).

This was about 300 g.

Furthermore, in light of consistently bad experiences with Korean BBQ here (see for example 5.020 TERRP 10(1.10) Maru...), I was curious to see if perhaps the problem may simply be that Philippine meat in general is unsuitable for grilling.  

The contenders (from left): (A) Dae Jang Gum Corp, (B) ADE Food Products, (C) Seoul Foods Mfg. Corp.

(A): crisp and light, no depth of flavor, lacking sufficient shrimp paste and/or fish sauce.

(B): cabbage was mushy in texture and bitter in flavor, signs of either improper storage or old/bad/rotten cabbage to begin with.

(C): texturally okay but with an odd/foreign flavor component that I couldn't place, some local ingredient that wouldn't be used in Korea.

By virtue of the fact that it was the only contender without a fatal flaw, (A) wins this taste test.  However, I do not recommend the product in the least, though I suppose that it would be better than nothing; then again, in Manila, given the plethora of other options, why bother--for example, the aforementioned kimchi from the Korean mart across the street was way better.  (B) and (C) are to be avoided no matter what, even if nothing.    

As for the meat, Philippine meat, at least pork belly, turns out to be just fine.  The restaurant's choice of meat, at least at Maru, is the problem.  

When/if I test the kimchi from nearby Korean marts, I should pair them with beef.



  1. No problems man! :)

    That reminds me, I should really get around to make a new batch of kimchi! Maybe I should also try to get my hand one some shrimp paste and/or fish sauce to make it more "authentic"?

  2. are you telling me that you haven't been using shrimp paste and fish sauce?!?!?!?! then, your kimchi probably tastes like (A). if u don't like shrimp paste and fish sauce, u might want to make geotjeorri....

  3. No no come to think of it, I did use fish sauce, some thai brand, but since it was so long ago since I made it last time I had forgotten about it :)

    Next time I make kimchi I will show you which type of fish sauce and which brand it was...

  4. then it must taste like (C)...

  5. OK, let's do it like this:

    1. Later, when you're back in Korea and we manage to arrange our exchange of foodstuffs/drinks from our respective countries; you can send me a package of GENUINE korean shrimp paste and/or fish sauce.. and then I can use those to make kimchi to see if I can spot a major difference

    2. When/if you ever to come to Sweden, I will treat you to my homemade kimchi, so you can see for yourself if it tastes like a), b) or c)...

  6. 1. ok, i'll send you shrimp paste, fish sauce for kimchi. and jeon powder. anything else? u good on sesame oil and gochujang?

    2. well, let's hope that it doesn't taste like any of those.

  7. 1. I might need sesame oil and gochujang as well!
    2. pretty sure it won't :)

  8. 1. OK, those 5 items. I can get them all here in MNL, so no need to wait until my next trip to Korea, which may not be for awhile. Send me your address via email.

    3. What was the exchange deal? That Swedish whisky? What about the cookbook, was that a different deal? Can't remember.

  9. 1. Yeah, will do! And please send me yours as well!
    2. Can't really remember, but I can both send you the whisky and the (swedish) cookbook (in english of course). Anything else you would like?

  10. I stopped buying that kind of brand of Kimchi. The taste is not consistent. Last time I bought it with 2017 Aug expiry, it tasted sweet. So I switched to other brand.

  11. I was thinking of buying that brand good thing i read your post...will definitely make an effort to visit korean mart near me...but i can't find the radish kimchi...