In the journey of discovering Korean cuisine I found myself at Hong Park Sa, a restaurant that specializes in Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samgyetang) in Ampang. In Malaysia when one mentions about Korean food it is usually related to their barbecue, owing to the popularity of BBQ restaurants like Daorae. But you should know that having Korean barbecue is not an authentic experience of Korean cuisine, simply because it is not a Korean traditional food, just popular.
Samgyetang on the other hand, is a traditional dish that is usually consumed during summer to replenish the lost energy and nutrients through the hot weather. The recipe dictates that only young chicken is used because it contains more nutrients – just what the dish requires. And to mention the more delicate meat too. Although Hong Park Sa uses mostly local ingredients to prepare the soup, quality Ginseng is still sourced from Korea.
If I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t know that this soup takes three days to prepare. A broth produced by simmering chicken bones for three days is the soup base, which is then used to boil the half-cooked chicken that is stuffed with Ginseng, dates, glutinuous rice and various herbs. So you could say having Samgyetang is like having a full meal. For RM25, the portion is also big enough to share between two.
At first the soup’s subtle taste was kind of disappointing for me. But being the Korean food noob that I am, I only realized I was eating it the wrong way until the restaurant owner pointed out to me. Using two forks, he split open the entire chicken to let the locked-in flavors from the chicken stuffing to mix with the soup. The difference in the taste before and after was just amazing, it was immediately sweeter, more aromatic and appetizing. FYI soup refilling is allowed, FOC too!
The Pork BBQ was RM22 per pax and comes with some sides like golden needle mushroom, potato slices and onions. There is a minimum order of 2 pax for this.
This large plate of fresh vegetables also comes with the Pork BBQ, for wrapping the grilled meat later.
You could grill the meat on your own if you wish but I let the staff do it, as they are more experienced and know not to under or over cook the meat.
For a restaurant that serves BBQ you would be surprised to find that there are no smoke extractors installed anywhere. This is because Hong Park Sa uses granite stone grill that emits a lot less smoke, no oil was used as well.
Using a scissors to cut the pork into smaller pieces for easier wrapping. Three layered pork ensures a slightly crunchy yet tender and juicy finish afterwards.
The pork slices were not marinated beforehand so it would depend largely on the accompanying sauces and other stuffing for extra flavors. Instead of dipping the meats with sauce only, I found that wrapping them in the large Chinese cabbage leaves with pickled Korean radish boosts its overall taste and texture. It was quite a refreshing experience for me and changed my perception slightly to Korean BBQ.
Freebies (traditional side dishes) in any Korean meal with unlimited refills. Although we only ordered two dishes our table was full of food lol.
The sizzling chicken steak is a popular choice for kids and my, the portion is huge. Comes with complimentary salad and fruit too.
Looking at the amount of food we had, it is hard to believe that the bill came to less than RM50 at RM47 to be exact. No government tax nor service charge were imposed despite the staff helping you to grill the meats. The bill also included some Ginseng Wine (usually served with Ginseng Chicken Soup, said to help retain the nutrients even better), various Kimchi (although I still hate it) and their very own Hong Park Sa tea, a fruit infused tea that aids digestion, it was really nice.
Compared to the other Korean restaurants, Hong Park Sa has a relatively smaller menu because they try to focus on their signature dishes. In short, if you think Korean food is all about Bulgogi, Bibimbap, Kimchi and BBQ, you should try Hong Park Sa’s Ginseng Chicken Soup and other traditional dishes they have.
Hong Park Sa Korean Restaurant (http://www.hongbbq.com)
G-20, Jalan Dagang B/3A,
Taman Dagang, Ampang (opposite Sri Ampang Apartment)
GPS Coordinates: N3 08.909 E101 45.318
Tel: 03-4270 3459 / 017-395 1157