DNX Food | Dae Bak Korean Restaurant: Unli juicy pork and more

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Hannah A. Papasin
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.

You know pork when it is fresh.

Not languishing in the bottom-est part of the freezer for weeks, with icicles forming on the flesh, and the meat practically growing pale and limp from freezer burn, like a flaccid piece of carcass, the multiple spice rubs masking the fact the meat’s flavor had gone flat.

dae bak lean meats

You get no such thing from DaeBak Korean Restaurant, which just recently opened with a P399 per person buffet promo when it reopened early this month after closing during the height of the pandemic.

The place is relatively full; the price has the people coming for the first visit; the FLAVORS have the customers coming back for more.

At least, that is what happened to the DNX Team.

dae bak mandalagan spicy pork

Any restaurant worth its weight in pork knows that the key to good samgyeopsal is the quality of the pork belly.

And that’s is where Dae Bak leaves competition eating its dust.

The pork slices were thick – as traditional samgyeopsal is supposed to be, not thin, almost bacon-y slices usually offered by pretenders.

dae bak fish cake

And the flavor. The seasoning was simple: there was no marinade, just salt and pepper, which brings out the natural flavor of the pork, minus the discoloration or

Here, we have to stop to describe the pork slices.

They didn’t shrivel up to nothing when exposed to dry heat (unlike certain thinly-sliced versions that curl up at the mere SIGHT of heat). The texture is firm, with a slight spring when bitten (we like to grill ours until the surface of the meat has caramelized to golden brown, and then slice them to about thumb size, and roll them on a sliver of lettuce, wrap-style, and pop the entire thing in the mouth in one go).

dae bak yangyeom chicken

The flavor is another thing. The pork is unmarinated, which is a good thing because the PORKY flavor was standing out with just a hint of brine (from the salt, not too strong), and a bit of heat (from the pepper). That’s it. The slightest bit of juice trickled out of the fat when bitten, and the heat from the meat that is just taken off the hot plate just ramped up the sheer pleasure derived from eating the it.

IT IS THAT GOOD.

The meat came with a side dish of the usual pickled somethings: kimchi, pickled onions, pickled radish. The kimchi is surprisingly mild as far as kimchis go, which is good because it acted like a cleanser for the palate, in case you want to reach for the second slice of pork, or try any one of the buffet offerings.

dae bak mandalagan line up of menu

Ah… the buffet offerings. There’s Kimchi Fried Rice, Japchae (Korean glass noodles — the Executive Editor’s favorite – he kept coming back for seconds, and thirds, and fourth helpings), Bulgogi Beef, TTeokbokki (sticky rice cakes, sliced penne-style – it has to be tasted to be believed), kim bab (my personal favorite), and fish cakes (not the starchy made-from-flour-and-what-not sold in stores; this one has a concentrated flavor of fish, with a texture not unlike vege-meat).

At P399 per person – excluding drinks — it was a pretty reasonable deal.

Unlimited pork, all-you-can-eat, with a buffet spread that recalls a banquet, the trip to Dae Bak is more than your money’s worth.

Hail to the pork!

Four Forks out of Five

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