It’s embarrassing how I identify myself as a foodie but I’m hard pressed to name a restaurant when prodded to select one on most occasions. For Mother’s Day, we planned on having a nice lunch out, but I couldn’t recommend a place and so we headed to one of our default choices, Dad’s Saisaki Kamayan in Glorietta. It turned out a slew of other families had the same idea, judging by the near lack of space in the waiting area, and so our feet took us around the mall for some 10 minutes.
There have been a number of new restaurants in Glorietta, especially after the addition of a new wing and some other renovations, but we eventually settled on Kaya, a Korean joint that has been around Manila forever (ergo, no longer hip), but which I haven’t tried before.
I initially hesitated about eating here as it was near empty when all the other restaurants in the area were spilling with patrons. However, my fears proved unfounded as the place filled up pretty quickly as soon as we got a table.
Despite having blindly ticked off dishes in the menu, we managed to create a decent lineup: kaya salad, kimbap, chapche, bulgogi deopbap (grilled pork belly), bulgogi jeongol (sirloin strips with vegetables and noodles), and alamang bibimpap, though we could have done away with the deopbap (it was snubbed, save for the rice) as the rest were more than enough.
Among the hits were the salad, whose sesame vinaigrette we liked, and the chapche, though I preferr Bulgogi Brothers’ chewy version better.
My sister always orders anything ‘alamang’ and so I was ready to dismiss the bibimbap as another ‘one of those’ variant, but this ended up my favorite: it tasted deceivingly healthy as the crab fat was not overwhelming to the taste. (I could’ve finished the entire bowl if only I wasn’t still aware of its cholesterol content.) The best part is the toasty crunchiness of the rice.
The rest was so-so, though more satisfactory than unpleasant. At P500, I thought the jeongol was overpriced as the meat was stringy and fatty once you cut it into portions. The complimentary banchan of spicy pickled cabbage, bean sprout, and pan-fried sayote was uninspiring as well.
Our bill came down to P1,400+ (with senior citizen discount) for a party of four, which overall, was not bad for a restaurant with safe flavors and offerings.
Kaya Korean Restaurant
2F Glorietta 2
East Drive, Ayala Center, Makati