Authentic Korean Food in Iloilo: A Zest of Kangbyeon Resto
February 20, 2015
The thing about being a food enthusiast is your standards go beyond the ordinary after countless exposures to restaurant and hotel food. The flexibility of your palate to adapt to unfamiliar flavors becomes surprisingly versatile. For instance, I hated spicy food when I was a child, and I still even detest it as an adult. Ironically, I consider myself one of the major consumers of gochujang or Korean red pepper paste these days.
My obsession with Korean food started after my first dining experience at Seoulia, a Korean restaurant located in the district of Lapaz and which was just few blocks away from home. Sadly, the owner went back to his country and my favorite pig-out venue officially closed. Months have passed before I was able to find another one to love. Thankfully, my cravings were beyond management when I chanced upon this very serene spot with glass walls exposing the splendid view of Iloilo River. It is called Kangbyeon Resto. I then looked at the menu and it’s a dream come true.
I ordered three dishes: grilled pork with lettuce wraps and spicy dipping sauce (samgyeopsal), spicy Korean rice cake (teokbokki) and spicy seafood soup (sundubujigae). One dish is good for two people. Now, you may think I have gone mad but that’s not all of it. They come with four side dishes and you can ask for a refill twice. The side dishes include steamed bean sprouts (sukjunamul), sweet potato glass noodles (japchae), fried tofu (dububuchim) and fermented vegetables in red pepper paste (kimchi). I would recommend everything I have mentioned above to anyone.
Aside from its distinct taste, one feature I love the most about Korean food is it is healthy. I am amazed at how it does a number on vegetables. If you compare it with the usual way people eat, you will say that the Korean culture regards food as a top priority. The teeming side dishes with different textures and flavors contributed a lot to my delight. I never felt bored with my food. There was never a day I went out of Kangbyeon Resto feeling unhappy and, mind you, there are weeks that I would dine there more often than I eat at home. I would always go home satisfied.
So what does this mean for Iloilo? As a major tourist destination for Koreans, it means this city is a blissful abode. When you travel abroad and you miss home, you look for Ilonggo food, right? They feel the same way. And for the locals, it sparks openness to food exploration and dining fashion around the globe. For foodies, it means you don’t have to pay for airline tickets to get a taste of one of the most respected food cultures in the world.