By Pattarawadee Saengmanee
The Nation Weekend
WELL-KNOWN for its tender eight-flavoured pork belly, Palsaik Korean BBQ makes its way to Thailand with the launch of its first branch in the heart of the Bangkok that’s already luring local foodies with enticing Korean delicacies.
With three branches in Seoul and outlets in the US, Japan, Australia, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines, it arrived here last month courtesy of new-wave enterpreneur Duangporn Rungpuvapat and her family, whose Srithai Food Service factory has been supplying sauces and ingredients to big-name fast food brands and leading restaurants for the past 38 years.
Duangporn says she got to know Palsaik – the name combines the Korean words for eight and colour – during her trips to Seoul.
“I’m crazy about K-Pop girl groups so much so that I learnt the language and have been regularly going to South Korea with my family for years. We like sampling local food and I often read restaurant reviews on social media,” says Duangporn, who is managing director of 8 Food (Thailand).
“Samgyupsal (pork belly) is one of my favourite meals but finding a restaurant that served it the way I liked it proved hard. Then five years ago, I discovered Palsaik Korean BBQ. The meat was so tender and tasty that I kept going back and decided to try and bring the brand to Thailand so others could enjoy it too.”
The restaurant on the second floor of Siam Center is modern and chic, boasting a white floor, wood panels and monochrome furniture. Copper lamps mingle with ventilation hoods on the black ceiling.
The sauces are made to Palsaik’s traditional recipes, and the burners and sloped grill pans imported from South Korea allow excess lard to run off into the waste receptacle.
Perfect for four people sharing, the popular Palsaik set (Bt1,035) consists of aromatic pork belly that is marinated for 12 to 36 hours in eight different sauces – gingseng, red wine, pine leaves, garlic, herbs, curry, miso and gochujang – to bring out the flavour and keep the meat tender and juicy.
The set is served with fresh vegetables, mushrooms, as much kimchi as you can eat and a big pot of spicy seafood soup. Additional sides of cheese stir-fried rice, raymond noodle, ham, sausage, shrimp, tofu, mozzarella cheese and Korean fish cakes can be ordered separately. Prices range from Bt40 to Bt150.
“Palsaik opened its first branch in Shinchon and it quickly became popular with locals and foreign tourists. The eight-coloured marinated pork belly tastes great even without seasoning. Staff are on hand to help you grill the meat at your table and you should start with the ginseng and end with the gochujang to enjoy the different levels of taste from light to spicy,” Duangporn says.
“Ginseng sauce makes the pork fragrant and tender while the pine leaves sauce is good for the health. These two flavours are popular with Korean customers.”
Lava Kimchi Fried Rice
We also order a plain Premium Pork Set (Bt750) with vegetables, kimchi and clam soup and a tray of melt-in-the-mouth Ribeye A5-grade Beef (Bt800). All come with sliced garlic, spicy ssamjang and special soy-black vinegar sauce made especially for the Thai branch.
Duangporn has created a new interesting set of Cheese Volcano Steamed Egg (Bt195), mellow Lava Kimchi Fried Rice (Bt295) and Iron Plate Japanese Wagyu A5 Garlic Fried Rice (Bt395), which is ideal for a quick meal.
Other dishes include Japchae (stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables and pork for Bt210) and Stir-fried Pork Hot Pot Bibimbab (Bt265).
“Our menu is different from the branches in Seoul. We’ve created some new dishes to appeal to the Thai palate and that also cater to the Thai preference for sharing,” Duangporn says.
>> Palsaik Korean BBQ is on the second floor of Siam Center. It’s open daily from 10am to 10pm.
>> Find out more at www.Facebook.com/PalsaikThailand.