Hot taste or Korea-A A +A
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
FROM television dramas to fashion, it is undeniable that Korean craft is making waves in the Philippines. Filipinos have come to know and appreciate Korean culture more and more, such that no one can ignore Korean cuisine. It has become a familiar taste to many people in the Philippines.
In the advent of Korean restaurants rising in different spots in Cebu, an unassuming place came into view at Rosedale Place beside Doña Rita Village in Banilad. Korean owner Han Joon Lee named it Topokki Man, with the vision of bringing in more Korean dishes for the Cebuanos, in particular, to enjoy at reasonable cost.
Since Topokki Man serves an all-Korean menu, it is rational to expect dishes to be largely based on rice, vegetables and meats. Condiments commonly used usually include sesame oil, soy sauce, fermented bean paste, salt, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and red chili paste. And true enough, the menu does not disappoint anyone’s expectations.
Topokki Man can also be considered an introduction to the famous hot taste of Korea, with it using its name in one of the country’s most popular spicy snacks. It is easy to guess that “cheese topokki” is the restaurant’s pride and specialty.
Rice cake is the main ingredient and it should first be sliced into bite-size pieces.
Carrots, cabbage, sugar, beef powder, curry and chili powder (of course) are added in a pot and allowed to boil for few minutes until the rice cake is completely cooked.
Sesame seeds, sesame oil and green onions are added for finishing touches.
A regular topokki does not always come with cheese. But if a guest wants to have it that way, regular cheese is mixed in the rice, while mozzarella cheese can be placed on top with parsley. Another option is to have some ramen noodles included. Sliced egg and wanton wrappers are also added to complete an appetizing presentation.
While it is a fact that topokki is deemed as an iconic street food often found in many casual eateries and street-side stalls in Korea, it also won the approval of royalty back then. A posh version was prepared, slightly enhanced and served in the royal court. So there goes a piece of trivia.
Topokki Man also offers some tasty fried stuff. There are seven kinds of “frieds” to choose from, namely, shrimp, squid, seaweed roll, vegetable, dumpling, sweet potato and squash. Not one of them looks and tastes less delicious than the other. Moreover, these items are prepared per order so there is always a promise of food freshness and crispiness.
Another popular Korean piece is the mixed rice or bibimbob, which is a typical Korean rice meal. Rice is the main ingredient mixed with different types of vegetables, sesame oil, chili paste, chopped beef barbecue and fried egg.
Still another famous food—basically because it is often seen in Korean television dramas—is the fish “cake cue.” It tastes very much like the fish ball in the Philippines, only it comes in a different form. It also comes with a flavorful slightly steaming soup.
Now that the meal is over, it is time to discuss two of the enticing desserts available.
There is the pat bing soo, which is a Korean style halo-halo that is also known as red bean sorbet. A few spoonfuls will remind a person of fruit salad with the addition of crushed ice, red beans and corn flakes. Another dessert is mango float boasting of several sweet layers of cream and mango bits. Chocolate syrup is streaked all over to make an appealing twist to it.
One thing that is very characteristic of Topokki Man is that most of the ingredients used in almost all dishes are actually bought from Korea. And of all those imported ingredients, there is one that is always present in everything offered and that is “the heart of Han.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 22, 2012.