January 8th, 2021
Jung Won Korean BBQ at Ampang: Restaurant review
Ewe Paik Leong pays a visit to Jung Won Korean BBQ restaurant.
After passing Sayfol International School, I turn into a slip road that ends in a parking area blistering under the sun. A small signboard announcing the restaurant stands on a metal post beside a gateway leading to a single-storey bungalow. After crunching along on the gravel, I step into the porch where the cashier’s counter is stationed, and an assistant manager ushers me inside.
Korean barbecue and soups
The cool interior of the restaurant is divided into an open area and two private rooms. A glass cupboard and a wire rack display bottles of whisky and brandy. In the menu, BBQ meat dominates the listing. Apart from beef, lamb and pork, duck is an unusual guest star. Other dishes come under entrée, casserole, single meal, and soup.
All the Korean classics are present and the soup section is strong: beef rib, sliced beef, oxtail, soft tofu, kimchi, bean paste, soya bean paste and meat and veggie soups. Standouts among the beverages are buckwheat tea, purple corn tea, black vinegar juice and blue lime juice.
A supplementary laminated sheet lists the restaurant’s latest dishes: chicken soup with dough flakes, simmered Pollack, simmered saba fish, and beef spine stew.
After placing my order, I explore the restaurant’s garden. There’re four gazebos with tables fitted with gas hobs. Greenery on all four sides encloses the restaurant in a quiet private world. This place is designed for outdoor dining as there is more seating in the gazebos combined than in the restaurant proper.
Back at my table, various banchan (sides) are awaiting. There’re fried anchovies and nuts, radish kimchi, bean sprouts, cucumber kimchi, stir-fried cabbage and sauteed French beans. The radish kimchi, being homemade, packs a stronger sour punch than regular stuff.
The anchovies and nuts deliver great crunch with a hint of saltiness. The contrast in tastes and textures among the banchan is surely one of the highlights of a Korean meal.
My dol sot bibimbap (RM28) arrives first. The various colours of the veggies in the stone pot look inviting: shredded cucumber, julienned carrot, jicama slices, spinach and bean sprouts. As I stir the contents after pouring in the deep-red gochujang sauce, I recall that bibimbap clinched spot 40 in CNN Travel 2011’s list of “world’s most delicious foods”.
My first spoonful of the orangey mixture immerses my palate in a delicate balance of sweet-and-sour held tightly by the hitherto runny egg. Then, a delightful contrast of the veggies’ textures completes a double-whammy. The crunchy bits of rice at the bottom of the stone pot deliver a finishing kick.
Piping hot soups
Next, I dig into chicken soup with dough flake (RM50), served in a stone pot on a portable gas stove. The spring chicken is stuffed with ginger roots and, as expected, it’s a melt-in-your mouth affair. The toppings of dough flakes – which are a close cousin of Hakka flat noodles – add a chewy dimension to the dish. The light, clear soup refreshes but the ginseng flavour can be amped up. Of course, using more ginseng would increase the price of the dish.
Another dish served piping hot is Pollack simmered with radish and chili (RM30). The chili brings out the sweetness of the crispy radish but I’m disappointed that the flakey flesh of the Pollack contains many tiny bones.
Intermittently, I’ve been taking slurps of kimchi soup with chicken meat (RM25). The word “soup” in the menu seems to be a misnomer as the dish more resembles stew. Containing strips of chicken breast and tofu, the broth is classic dynamite with its combo of lively sourish and spicy flavours.
After all the spicy stuff, a chug of Korean ginseng tea (RM7) functions as an excellent palate cleanser, bringing earthy and mild sweetness sloshing about in my mouth like a mini tsunami.
As I leave the restaurant, I regret not having come in the evening as the romantic ambiance would have doubled the joy of dining here.
Locations & Details
Jung Won Korean BBQ Restaurant
No. 255, Jalan Ampang Hilir, Kuala Lumpur
Opens daily: 10 am to 11pm
Tel: +603-4257 5555