Ginger Pig In Hongdae, Seoul

Ginger Pig In Hongdae, Seoul

After Fritz Coffee Company, I took the subway to Hapjeong Station to catch the opening of Bau House. The article I saw on the internet said it opens at 11:30 am and I was trying to catch it as soon as starts to play with (still) energetic dogs. I tracked the perfectly good directions only to find out I was actually 2 hours early. Bau House opens at 1:30 pm on weekdays. Note to self: Double check everything you read on the internet.

Good thing I remembered this was a station away from Hongdae, a university district also known for arts and shopping. So I caught the train to the next station and killed some time with unnecessry shopping.

After two hours, and two bags and a pair of glasses without prescription, I decided to just enjoy the lovely fall weather and walk to Hapjeong instead of taking the train. It was just a station away, a straight road as mapped out by google. Also, I was hungry. I saw a chicken place near Hapjeong. Maybe, I can eat along the way.

I was looking forward to the fried chicken when after a couple of blocks of walking, a bright marquee sign caught my eye.


Ginger Pig. Pig. Pig eh. Automatic.

I went it and an urban industrial interior welcomed me — tolix chairs, wooden tables, exposed pipes, brick walls. Also they had parts of pig as wall decor. I felt like I belonged. I settled down in a booth and asked for the advertised ginger pork cutlet.


As with other korean meals, I was served a cold water in a canister and banchan as soon as I was seated. And then after a few moments, this monster arrived.


This fried pork cutlet was huge — like the size of my face. It was well-cooked, juicy and meaty in spite of the thick breading. I ordered it with the original sauce, which I can only liken to the sauce you slather your katsu with in Yabu. And it’s just 6,000 KRW — 300 pesos for all this goodness.

Ginger Pig was halfway between Hongdae and Hapjeong. I have a good kilometer to go before I reach Bau House. And since I practically inhaled my meal, it was a very welcomed and needed walk.

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Flashback Friday | KYK at Porta Kyoto Station

Flashback Friday | KYK at Porta Kyoto Station

Sometimes, when traveling to places where you can’t, for the life of you, decipher what’s written on the sign, you just have to trust the line.

Fortunately in Japan — like what they do in Japanese restaurant here — they have the food is displayed in their waxy versions on the store windows so you’d know what they actually offer. You may not be able to read their names, but you know how they’d look like. You may not be able to say to your server exactly what you want, but you can point it to them.

Pointing, big animated gestures — they’ll get you what you want when language is a barrier.

While in Kyoto, you will most likely find yourself in Kyoto Station most of the time. Kyoto has an extensive bus system (one which I am extremely jealous of) and being a tourist, it’s a safe bet you’ll find your bus you need at the Kyoto Station terminal. Yes, you will get lost a lot — it’s Japan, it happens — but everything starts and stops in Kyoto Station. It’s very Cubao, or Divisoria.

All that getting lost finding your bus will get you hungry, but when you find yourself back Kyoto Station, you might as well gather your wits and map out your game plan in the comforts of Japanese food. Underneath Kyoto station is Porto Dining, where you can find a good number of dining options to suit your every Japanese food craving.

And KYK seemed to have the longest line.

Now, in terms of Japanese food, they say we already have everything we want in the Philippines. There’s no need to travel to Japan for a good ramen. Same goes with tonkatsu. There’s a ton of options on where you want your deep fried breaded pork here in Manila. But I will tell you, you will never truly appreciate tonkatsu until you have it in Japan.

When you think about it, tonkatsu is really simple. You get pork, dip in in panko, and then fry it. It’s a very easy concept that Filipinos can comprehend — easier than let’s say Ramen. Katsu places will really fly here in the land of lechon kawali-loving people.  Yabu is practically a staple now in our restaurant rotation, but Yabu is nothing when you have the lucky chance to try out KYK in Japan.

KYK Porta Dining, Kyoto Station, Kyoto, JapanKYK Porta Dining, Kyoto Station, Kyoto, Japan

I don’t know what kind of angels raised the pig that I had for my Katsu meal there, but it really tasted like the pork was lullabied by cherubs to sleep and massaged daily by glorious winged creatures.  The panko tasted fresh, and the meat looked perfect — cooked thru but still pink and juicy. It tasted insane. It is both life changing and life affirming at the same time. When the Japanese can make you something to eat like this on the cheap (well, relatively — everything is expensive in Japan), and in 10 minutes, it’s a good time to be alive.

That. And Japanese white rice. The Japanese — they know their rice.


Tonkatsu KYK
Porta, Kyoto Station,
Kyoto, Japan

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Why Do You Still Go to Yabu?

Why Do You Still Go to Yabu?


I guess it’s safe to say now, the katsu onslaught is over. People have met their breaded porkloin fix and people have now moved on to ramen. Or I don’t know, pork cheek.

So, why the hell is there still a lunch/dinner line at Yabu?

Or at least there’s one on my branch, the one at the very upscale basement food court of Robinson’s Magnolia — Robinson’s Magnolia, where LV speedies are used to mark cafeteria territory, and every kid and their yaya in Jollibee speaks perfect English.

Sometimes, there’s an itch you want to scratch, and sometimes, you got to endure the line. And unlike other lines, this one’s really annoying. Because by this time, with Yabu being in the dining scene for some time now, and with its gazillion branches, there isn’t supposed to be a line.

So why do people (like me. Actually this is just me and my very unscientific observation. Disclaimer.) still go to Yabu?

You go to Yabu for …

1. The very attentive service.

Yabu people are there. Them, with their black statement TEAM Yabu shirts — just there. Maybe they want the tables turned quickly, but if you want to eat and you’re like me who can drink 2 liters of table service water in one sitting and you know you’re irritating the wait staff because you’re practically a walking fish, Yabu is where you go. We always tip well without hesitation at Yabu. And Yabu does need a very attentive staff, because practically everything on the set menu, except the meat, is unlimited. You just have to ask.

That said…

2. Because unlimited white rice.

It’s not japanese rice. But it’s a very close approximation of it. And it’s fluffy, and white, and unlimited. You don’t go to Yabu for the katsu. If you want great katsu, go to Ginza Bairin. But if you want to just scratch a katsu itch and you want it to be sulit, you go to Yabu, because practically everything — the rice, the miso soup, the fruits — is unlimited. And if you order the 180g meat, even the pork loin seems unlimited.

That said…

3. When you feel you want to stuff yourself silly with a ridiculous amount of cabbage.

I am not a vegetable person, but there’s something about Yabu’s cabbage that makes it tolerable, or even (I’m going to say it) enjoyable. Or maybe, it’s the roasted sesame dressing. Or maybe, it’s the constant wonderment of how can I not achieve this glorious fine shreds at home that makes it so appealing. But then, in the real world outside of Yabu, the idea of buying rabbit food when you don’t have rabbits is cringe-worthy.

Cabbage, in real life, is decorative. It’s where shrimp balls are laid on Chinese restaurants, or where hotdog sticks are stuck on at children’s parties. It’s the star of a Kiddie feast. Like a very sad ham.

Now, when do you not go to Yabu?

…when you want space.

Because real estate is always an issue with Yabu. The table size is enough for the sauces and 2 trays and maybe with enough tetris experience, those combo appetizers. Afterwhich, you really have to think about getting that soft shell crab ala carte. Are you okay if they put it on your lap? (I, for the record, am down with that. Heck, let me just cradle it like a baby.)

Yabu, with such big trays, why do you have such small tables?

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