Friday, January 16, 2015

A Tapestry of Korean Flavors at O'Rice

Like different colors on a palette, the different flavors combine perfectly in each dish, with each distinct note weaving its own hint in a colorful tapestry.

Korean cuisine has always been known for its blend of complex flavors, and at O'Rice, you can experience it all...

Located at the Forum in Bonifacio Global City, O'Rice is a casual dining Korean restaurant offering a wide range of traditional and contemporary dishes in a relaxed and cozy space. It's a welcome addition to the diversity of flavors at the Forum.

A meal with friends or lunch for two, the spacious interiors can be configured to accommodate any requirement. The linear layout features an open kitchen at the far end, with the bestsellers of O'Rice displayed above. But its the splash of bright colors that you notice almost immediately as you enter O'Rice.

The bright colors of the interiors are accentuated by a playful wall display featuring colorful spools of thread in one corner, a visual cue to the colorful flavors of Korean cuisine served at O'Rice.

The ceiling also features long panels of cloth, in bright colors, transforming the interior illumination with a palette of festive colors. The play on color and light enhances the laid-back and casual vibe of the place. But the true colors are later revealed in their wide selection of dishes...

A refreshing glass of Iced Tea, served in a glass mason jar starts off my dining experience at O'Rice, along with a complimentary appetizer of pickled vegetables or Korean banchan. And slowly, the color palette of flavors begin to unfold... 

The lunch crowd arrives, and the kitchen is fired up for the first set of orders. Executive Chef Ryu Jang Ho, or simply Chef Tom, heads the kitchen, and the orders are quickly expedited and served.

A portable table-top burner is set up for the Army Base Stew (P 698 good for 2-3), a hearty and comforting stew with sausages, ham, ground pork, bacon, macaroni, beans, tofu, vegetables, and ramen noodles in a light yet spicy broth. You must be wondering, hold on, sausage and macaroni? Bacon and tofu? It's said that the dish was created shortly after the Korean War, with necessity dictating the tone for the unique dish. The presence of US bases, and its well-stocked Post Exchange or PX, introduced an abundance of western ingredients which were quickly adapted to local tastes, hence the name "Army Base Stew." The east-west fusion of flavors resulted in a truly unique dish, with sausages, ham, bacon, and macaroni added to a local spicy broth with vegetables, tofu, and noodles. in fact, you can consider this stew as one of the earlier fusion dishes way before "fusion" was even coined.

After a few minutes on the burner, the stew slowly transforms from a pale milky color to a bright red broth, as the vegetables and spices enrich the stew along with the various western-style meats. The first sensation you experience is the soothing heat of the thick spiced broth, but layers of different notes from the various ingredients come into play shortly after, combining for a rich blend of flavors. This unique dish has that familiar spicy note one can find in many Korean dishes, but the mix of ingredients, including bacon, macaroni, sausages, and tofu, make it different. Perfect for a hangover, or a cold or rainy day. Or any day, really.

Pan Bibimbap (P 248), the classic Korean staple of rice with vegetables, beef, and kochujang topped with a sunny side-up. O'Rice serves this traditional dish, which means "mixed rice", in a cast iron pan. The delicate notes of the namu, or seasoned vegetables, contrasts with the sharpness of the gochujang, the spicy chili pepper paste, and the richness of the egg. Mix it all together, and the contrasting flavors combine for a refreshing and uniquely Korean dish. The hot cast iron pan keeps the dish warm, a nice touch by O'Rice.

Chicken Popcorn (P 248), crisp nuggets of chicken, deep-fried and breaded, and coated with a sweet and spicy glaze drizzled with sesame seeds. The Korean style fried chicken is tender and juicy, and perfectly crisp on the outside. One piece is followed by another. And another. This one's perfect with a cold beer.

Sausage Bacon Fried Rice (P 298), soft, fluffy, and flavorful fried rice with sausage and bacon mixed with kimchi and drizzled with honey mustard and teriyaki sauce. At O'Rice, you definitely have to try one of their signature fried rice specialties. Sausage and bacon, now that sounds good. The heat from the kimchi, the mild sweetness and bite of the honey mustard, the sweet teriyaki sauce, and the richness of the bacon and sausage make this one stand out. A meal in itself, with a balanced blend of complex flavors. Other rice specialties include Beef Bulgogi Fried Rice, Chicken Cutlet Rice, and Seafood Fried Rice.

Andong Chicken Stew (P 498, good for 2-3), a rich stew made with chicken, potatoes, and glass noodles in a sweet sauce. Named after a Korean city where the dish originated, the slow braised and tender chicken is draped with a thick and sweet sauce, along with peppers, carrots, and thick glass noodles. It's a homestyle dish that gives it a rustic and comforting feel and flavor, perfect with steamed white rice.

The tapestry of flavors continue with Topoki (P 248), spicy Korean rice cakes with fried seafood in sweet red chili sauce. A popular Korean street food, Topoki is a filling meal usually consumed on the go. The version served at O'Rice include fried seafood for added flavor and texture, adding a contemporary twist.

Beef Bulgogi Kimbap (P 298), bulgogi with a twist, with the signature Beef Bulgogi wrapped in steamed rice and seaweed with fresh vegetables. This traditional Korean dish was inspired by the Japanese futomaki, but unlike the Japanese version which uses vinegared rice, the Korean adaptation uses sesame oil for nuttier flavors. Classic finger food, with a blend of rich flavors. Other options include Shrimp, Spicy Pork, and Tuna Kimbap.

For dessert, choose from a variety Korean ice cream displayed at the freezer...

...for that final layer of color in a tapestry of flavors at O'Rice. 

Aencille Santos and Chef Ryu Jang Ho, or Chef Tom, of O'Rice await your visit for a flavorful and colorful dining experience. Reasonable prices and bold flavors, it's a winning combination.

O'Rice is located at I-5 Forum, 7th Avenue corner 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City or call 866-0574 for inquiries and take-out orders.

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  1. Oh WOW Gerry this looks amazing!! I can't wait to try this :D Thanks for sharing!


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