The burgeoning dining district of Sri Petaling has grown beyond my recognition since I first went there in 2011. Now, it gets really lively after dark, with well-patronized bars and numerous good dining options, all within a 1-mile radius!
The latest of these is Gu On, a Korean restaurant specializing in high-quality barbecued meats. But, what’s so special about yet another Korean BBQ restaurant, in a city with a busy Korea-town (in Ampang), and dotted with dozens upon dozens of Korean eateries? Young Malaysians, like their counterparts elsewhere, are swept up in the global K-Pop and K-Drama phenomenon, and its accompanying craze for anything Korean, including the food.
Well, three-day-old Gu On, when we were there on Wed (it only opened its doors last Sunday, July 30th) sought to set the benchmark, where authenticity of the cuisine is concerned. Its menu was designed by no less than uber-popular South Korean Youtube sensation, Gerrard Park Min Hyuk aka Striker Chef, who has 230,000 followers for his nearly 400 online cooking videos.
Meats here were smoked in hay first, giving them a unique fragrance before the cooking was finished tableside.
We started with Gu On’s house signature cocktail, the Perjito - a sparkling, fruity (we chose the yuzu option), soju-infused cocktail. It was refreshing and mildly alcoholic, which suit me perfectly.
Our dinner consisted of:
Grilled pork belly and thinly-sliced beef brisket wrapped around enoki mushroom & scallion
Tableside service: our personal chef, Ra, grilling and then cutting-up the grilled pork belly.
Beef brisket wrapped around enoki and scallion - beautiful interplay of textures with each bite, and the flavours were perfect with the anchovy sauce dip.
Grilled pork belly - we were told to dip it in the saucer containing yuzu-garlic-soy sauce, then eaten with a lettuce wrap.
Accompanying seafood salad, which contained finely shredded vegetables, calamari, baby octopus, shrimps, ebiko (shrimp roe), jellyfish and chili.
Kimchi pork collagen soup - this was singularly the best-tasting dish (for me) that evening. Certainly set the benchmark for any and all Korean restaurants in KL where great taste and 100% authenticity were concerned.
Volcano egg (gyeran jjim) - perhaps the most basic and common of all Korean side-dishes (banchan), but this is the first place in KL which produced one which closely approximated the best ones I’d had in Korea.
Smoked beef short-ribs - fatty and totally delish. We were recommended to opt for the salted octopus ssamjang dip for this one.
It also went amazingly well with the rather radical radish salad sherbet dip.
Seafood and spring onion pancake - the ubiquitous pajeon, but unlike any pajeon one would’ve ever tasted. Over here, instead of a batter-heavy pancake which Korean pajeons tended to be, we were gifted one chockful of seafood, and with barely enough carb to just hold the whole concoction together. It’s virtually blanketed with crisp, golden-browned shallots. Modern-Korean, fusion Korean - call it what you will, but it was totally unforgettable. I still lie in bed dreaming of it.
Perilla cold noodles - confession, I surreptitiously “skipped” this course after a perfunctory tasting mouthful. It was good - very good, in fact, but I was filled to the brim, twice over.
Cream cheese hotteok - it’s always a mystery even to myself that, no matter how full I was at the end of a super-heavy meal, I could always find room for dessert. This piece of pastry was simply amazing: a beautiful, crispy, buttery, sugar-glazed pastry enfolding a rich, creamy centre. The stuff of dreams, magically disappeared down my gullet before my fellow diner could even lift her chopsticks.
Kim chi and yuzu ice-cream - very nice flavours. This place can make a fortune just selling these!
That evening, the menu creator, Park Min Hyuk and his all-Korean outfit are in KL. The food we had was astoundingly good, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it will remain so for the foreseeable future, especially after the Korean implementation team goes home. Because if they do, it’ll be the best Korean to hit KL, ever.
Gu On Korean BBQ
22-G, Jalan Radin Bagus 8, Bandar Baru Sri Petaling, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Opening hours: 11am to 11m daily