Friday, February 12, 2016

Kongju: The Original Korean Restaurant in Bangkok

Japanese food has always been one of the stronger cuisines Bangkok has to offer, but slowly and surely, with the unstoppable influence of the K-Pop movement, Korean food has finally started to make strides into Bangkok. Chain stores are popping up all over malls, residential neighbourhoods, with more (especially Bingsu cafes) waiting to open, and a Korean Town already established in the heart of the city. But before all these, Bangkok had (and still has) Kongju.

Dak Kang Jeong, I will take this over any Korean Fried Chicken any day

Many people go to Kongju for their popular Korean BBQ washed down with Soju, not me though. With toddlers in tow, I usually try to avoid steamboats and grills, for obvious safety reasons. The great thing about Kongju is that many of their dishes are not commonly found in most other Korean restaurants. The crowd favourite is their Dak Kang Jeong, crispy fried chicken with crispy chilli and garlic. If you come here, you will have to order this before doing anything else, because it has nothing but crisy-tangy-awesomeness.

Bell peppers and mushroom wrapped in grilled pork fillet. Beef option also available, a suitable light option

Kimchi Jigae, packed with flavour and quality ingredients. I have eaten enough kimchi jigae to assure you that this is one of the better ones around

The other dish that left a huge impression was something completely unexpected, braised beef rib stuffed in a whole steamed pumpkin. The flavourful fall-off-the-bone goodness of the rib coupled with the unique experience of slicing your way into the pumpkin bowl makes this dish a must-order at Kongju for me as well (thanks to the recommendation of @strikingjacqpot).

The presentation of this dish is a pleasant surprise indeed
After slicing the pumpkin open to reveal the goodies inside
This cinnamon, red-date and jujube ice tea dessert is a perfect refreshing ending to your meal at Kongju

If there is any downside to Kongju, it is that I personally find most dishes a little too sweet for my liking. That said, I am no expert in Korean cuisine. All in all, compared to the usual Korean restaurants you find in Bangkok, the service, presentation and taste of the dishes served at Kongju are obviously in a class of its own, especially with the irrepressible Hanna Kim always there to maintain its high standards. It also serves dishes that are usually not found in any other typical Korean kitchens.

Coupled with its highly accessible location at Pathumwan Princess Hotel, connected to the world-famous MBK Shopping Mall, if you are in the vicinity and craving Korean food, I don't think you can do much better than heading to Kongju.

PS. I have also been there a couple of times to specially have their hearty Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup.

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