Where authentic Korean food is concerned, fans of the cuisine would tend to agree that the best food experiences are in obscure places wherein the atmosphere is nondescript and menus hardly have a word printed in English.
Obscure, nondescript, and alien-- Chef's Noodle is not. But don't let this friendliness deter you from discovering Chef's Noodle's authentic Korean flavors.
Located inside the University Mall along Taft Avenue, the new fast-casual restaurant is a master franchise of the Chef's Noodle brand from South Korea. Mainly targeted to the Korean students enrolled in the nearby universities, Chef's Noodle offers a taste of Korea at budget-friendly prices.
The main draw for the student lunch crowd are the P99 budget meals: Kimchi Dupbap and Bibimbap-- each served with iced tea and Korean soup.
At less than one hundred, their Bibimbap value meal has the requisite sunny-side up egg, bean sprouts, julienned carrots and cabbage, dollop of red chili paste, and some strings of sautéed beef as rice toppings.
Though filling, the Bibimbap is vegetable-heavy (needs more meat) and kind of on the dry side (more sesame oil, perhaps?). But at P99, who's to complain?
It's good that they included a cup of the Chef's Noodle's seafood broth in the set. Use this to help the rice mix slide down your throat. First-time eaters must be warned, though. The soup is hotter and spicier than your average complimentary broth (spice level: 5 out of 10). It'll most likely shock your tongue and bite your throat upon first slurp. But be patient. It gets better at every sip.
Those who are willing to fork out a little more than a hundred pesos can try the restaurant's signature Chef's Noodle (P150).
What's in a bowl: a piece of tamago, quite a handful of beef bulgogi, leeks, bean sprouts, ham, and flat noodles. With a spice level of about 3 out of 10, the default beef broth will also give your throat a little tingling.
One huge bowl is good enough for one very hungry diner or two light eaters. A serving is already very filling but you may request your soup to be refilled.
What else should you order here?
The Starking Fire Sushi (P160)-- Chef Choi In Sun's signature sushi topped with Australian strip loin, gets production value points for on the table torching. A piece is quite large for a bite. But aside from that, it is perfect and consistently tender.
Safe eaters (and spice haters) can get Japchae (P130), a sweet glass noodle dish that's ubiquitous in any Korean restaurant. There' s also the Chicken Kas (P130) if you're partial to Japanese influenced Korean dishes.
Chef's Noodle is an approachable and authentic Korean restaurant that won't require you to drive to an obscure street nor make you read words out of circles and ovals. The Korean restaurant is nothing fancy nor high-end. Nevertheless, it's still filling and fun.