Yoogane 유가네 Singapore~ Review

By now, fans of korean food will probably have heard of the South Korean Dakgalbi  (닭갈비) chain Yoogane 유가네 (yoo-ga-nae) flagship eatery opening in Singapore during the past Labor Day holiday at Bugis Junction.

Dakgalbi  (닭갈비) is a dish made up of diced chicken stir-fried in gochujang (hot pepper paste) along with cabbage, green onions, rice cakes (ddeok) and potatoes cooked on a big hot iron pan in front of diners. Additional options such as ramen noodles, rice, seaweed and kimchi are also commonly added and you eat by directly taking the food straight from the pan in front of you piping hot.

We came at a time when the lunch crowd was drizzling out (around 1.45pm) on a Monday afternoon and got seated fairly quickly without queuing. Apart from Dakgalbi, Yoogane also offers other kinds of galbi on its menu, such as the seafood and chicken galbi as well as the marinated chicken bulgogi for those who cannot take any spiciness.

We intended to order the seafood and chicken galbi ($45.90), which is value-for-money as it feeds 4 people (a 1-person portion of chicken galbi stands at $18.90) but sadly, they were out of the seafood. Thus, we settled on 2 portions of the closest substitute- Octopus and Chicken Galbi ($18.90).

Yoogane does not allow a 1 portion order, perhaps due to the large pan size, so there must be a minimum of 2 portion orders. Even a mix of the different galbis to make up 2 portions are not allowed, presumably because they do not want to mix the different flavors of diffferent galbis together in one hot plate. For customers who order 2 portions each for 2 kinds of galbi, you may choose to have 1 kind of galbi cooked in front of you on the hotplate, while the other kind will be cooked separately by the staff at the open cooking area enclosed by a transparent piece of glass.

While waiting for the galbi, diners can help themselves to the free flow of side dishes. They were out of kimchi, which really disappointed me because kimchi is an essential to any good Korean meal. Luckily, the pickles were crunchy with a sourness that hit the spot - really good. Other sides include bell peppers and cabbage, which you can make into your own salad with the provided bottle of mayonnaise.

The  Galbi was brought over almost immediately after ordering. 
We opted for the Mixed Combination Add-Ons consisting of ramen, sticky noodles(which resembles our laksa bee hoon), cheese ddeok (rice cakes) and sweet potato ddeok.

Mixed Combination Add-Ons

해물 파전 (Haemul Pajeon) - Seafood Pancake
While we waited for our galbi to be cooked in front of us (hungrily), our ordered side of seafood pancake came. This was really outstanding. The spring onions were luscious to bite into and the pancake was cooked crisp on the outside with a soft, wonderfully warm eggy fluffiness on the inside, along with fresh prawns. Dipped into the accompanying soy sauce, this is one of the best versions of the korean seafood pancake to be found locally.

The addition of cut octopus

Finally, after nearly 20 minutes of wait (which can be torturous if you are hungry), our pan of Dakgalbi was finally all cooked. The octopus came off a little too chewy; perhaps due to staff inexperience which led to the slight undercooking. My favorite add-on though is a tie between the ramen and ddeok. The sweet potato ddeok looked pretty in purple, but I couldn't really taste the sweet potato distinctly because of the sauce.The cheese-filled ddeok was presented as expected - cheese in the middle enclosed by a chewy mochi-like exterior. Both added an interesting dimension to the pan and you can identify them from the rest of the ingredients just by its soft, slightly thicker and tubular shape.

At first mouthful, the galbi was delicious with all the different textures and spicy gochujang flavor, but towards the end, it got a little mundane as the flavors converged into the singular taste of red-pepper sauce, which somehow lacked the depth to carry off the entire dish. Perhaps having kimchi around would have helped. Perhaps choosing rice and seaweed to add in would also have made it different. It looks better than it tastes and I think the galbi I've had in Korea was much more delicious.

Service-wise, the staff, especially the manager, was polite in explaining the non-availability of items (kimchi and seafood) and they were quite attentive to our needs. Ice water is provided free in standard refillable glass bottles for you to help yourself too along with metal cups - the typical Korean way. Cute red bib-aprons are also provided for diners to wear to prevent splatter on clothes, though you will have to do more if you don't want the smell to cling. Luckily, the after-smell didn't linger much on us.

There are still some teething problems, evident from so many things that were missing in our visit - so it will be good to stagger your visit till after a while more when it has settled. For all its hype, Yoogane is probably worth a try once but if I were to be back, it would be for its fantastic seafood pancake, and perhaps its egg roll which we didn't try this time round.

200 Victoria Street,
Singapore 1188021