Street food culture is a widespread norm across Asia for centuries, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to Korean food fanatics. Nonetheless, is somewhat rare to find Korean Street Food settings in cosmopolitan Singapore. Wangdaebak has earned itself quite a strong following; given their prevailing branches in China Square Central, and 98 Amoy Street.
I was privileged to be in the company of folks from Hungrygowhere, Purple Taste & Chubby Botak Koala, for this Media Invite.
Pocha 포차 (translates: gun carriage) – not exactly cannons per se, but retro push cart culinary concept in mind. Typically, in the modern setting where street vendors pitching tents, providing some heating & piping hot food, sometimes seen in drama or movies.
Here at 98 Amoy Street, Wangdaebak Pocha 왕대박 포차 is just a few doors away from the highly acclaimed Wangdaebak Korean BBQ (93 Amoy Street). The interior décor is nostalgic, the walls looking like shop fronts and the timber tables & seats are lined parallel, like on the streets. And when the dining crowd flocks in, the ambience becomes a lot cozier & animated.
Seating is limited. Expect diners to encamp for a solid hour or more, while they commune. So it makes a lot of sense to make prior reservations. Or, beat the dinner crowd and be seated before 1900hrs.
While waiting for the good stuff to roll out from the kitchen, we started off with some Honey Makgeolli 꿀 막걸리 served chilled & accompanied with shot glasses. Traditionally, drank in bowls or cups, but we’re in a modern setting, so shoot up!
Soju 소주 is not to be missed in almost any form of Korean dining or parties, and as a novelty, there’s Watermelon Soju – akin to watermelon vodka, only, a lot more palatable & less coarse on the throat.
In Korean dining, side dishes (in excess) before, during & after the meal is a common practice, as gesture of hospitality towards the guest. In some upmarket/ aristocratic cases, the variety of side dishes can occupy the whole table, almost.
And in street food, this practice is still observed, albeit lesser in variety. Before us were, spiced pancake, sugar coated instant noodles & kimchi. And there was sweetcorn in mayo, served on a hot plate.
Honey Soy Fried Chicken 허니간장치킨 and Sweet & Spicy Fried Chicken 양념치킨 to start things off. These are boneless chicken battered, fried & seasoned. For meatarians who prefer their meats to come off the bone, there are variants of fried chicken wings too.
Pork Knuckles is almost like an international sensation, and the Koreans have their answer to the world in the form of, Pork Knuckle with and without Sauce 족발반 양념반. The knuckle is cut up into neat slices & chunks, served accompanied with seasoned chives on the side. Apparently, this is the all-time favorite for patrons & Korean diners.
Note: There is some level of spice factor for the glazed/skin portions, and if you can handle Shichuan or Thai spices, you will enjoy this smoky platter. And, if you can’t handle spice, pick the fleshy portions, abstain from the skin.
Kimchi Stew with Pork Belly 묵은지 김치찜 is probably one of the most sought after as well: a hot plate with shallow troughs of cheese & corn on the perimeter, while the center is a shallow pot of kimchi with radish, golden mushroom, tofu cubes, and topped with a rack of parboiled pork belly, served on a gas stove.
Once the stew starts to cook, the service staff comes to cut the ingredients into bite sized portions, give it a good stir so all the ingredients are in the mix, before portioning them into serving bowls. The stew is served with Yammi Rice Ball 주먹밥 (seaweed rice sprinkled with sesame seed) on the side, so you can munch along with the stew.
Note: if the spice factor hits you, the molten cheese with sweetcorn helps to mild the heat down a little. But be sure to let the cheese cool off before putting into the mouth.
Spicy Chicken Feet 직화 불닭발 is served frolicking in cloves of caramelized garlic on a hot plate, drizzled with sesame seed. The chicken feet is deboned, seasoned, & crunchy. I guess weight watchers concerned about packing calories should appreciate this, since it’s probably among the least caloric count, compared to all else on the menu.
All in all, I’d say the service, quality & food portion bears true representation to the concept of Korean Street Food. So if you have a dire craving for Korean Street Food, in the comfort of air conditioning, with a cozy setting to satiate, Wangdaebak Pocha 왕대박 포차 is the place to visit.
Happy Hour runs from Mondays to Thursdays, from 1730 till 2030hrs. Watermelon Soju at $29 (usual price $38), Fruity Soju at $14 (usual price $15/$16 per bottle). Heineken/Tiger draught beers at $10.90 per pint.
Expect nothing less than warmth in the hospitality of the service crew, as they shuttle in & out of the kitchen, and maximizing the surface area of your tables. Be amazed by how they seem to find enough space to add another platter, when you think the table is already full.
Pictures taken using LG G4 Dual LTE
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