Recently, in one of our little family’s semi-frequent visits to Tagaytay, we discovered this new, unassuming Korean restaurant called Jeonju Bab. I say “discovered” because even though it’s located in Fora, the chilly city’s new and fairly big and easily accessible mall, it’s at the back portion of the commercial complex, an area you wouldn’t even know exists because it’s partly cut off from the rest of the mall by a road leading to the carpark.
We found out about Jeonju Bab after a crew member of another restaurant, who was stationed in a spot where there was higher foot traffic to herd mall-goers into her relatively hidden-away place of work, did just that: point us in the direction of the restaurant. Not wanting anything in particular to eat, we obliged and headed for their diner (we can be easy to manipulate sometimes). We had already been thinking of what to have when we got there, but lo and behold: beside the establishment was a Korean restaurant. The thought of kimchi pulled us in.
The Jeonju Bab experience
It was lunchtime, but there were no customers other than us in sight. This should explain the tense look on the face of Jeonju Bab’s Korean owner, who was standing in a corner, hands in the pockets of his shorts. A staff member approached us right away and gave us the menu, which told us that they specialize in “authentic bibimbap,” as the place describes its offerings. Bibimbap, of course, is the popular Korean mixed rice dish that has a number of variations. Being that the place is in Tagaytay, I had a feeling that the dishes would be priced at Php 200 at the minimum. But to our surprise, the all-meat bibimbap and kimchi-bokumbap are each for Php 99 only, and their bibimbap, japchae-bap (glass noodles plus veggies), chicken-bap, samgyeopsal-bap (barbeque) and bulgogi-deopbap (beef) are each for Php 129 only.
What to get at Jeonju Bab
We ordered chicken-bap, bibimbap and kimchi-bokumbap. When they came, the dishes were arranged on huge plates and bowls in a neat and enticing way. That sort of thing can excite anyone. When I had a taste of my (rice-less) bibimbap, it was game over for all the Korean restaurants we’d dined in at that point: I just tried the best-tasting Korean food in my life (besides the lunch that my skilled Korean boss would prepare for us at my first job, perhaps). Nothing I say here is hyperbolic. My wife and I are currently into K-food, and although I’ve generally liked every such place we’ve tried, Jeonju Bab takes the cake. Whereas in most other Korean eateries I had to wait a while for the flavors to come out and become prominent, the delectableness of the food at Jeonju Bap knew no subtlety; it was immediate and, dare I say it, explosive. In that way, it had the richness and range of Indian food, another cuisine that I personally love. I also appreciate very much the freshness of the lettuce that came with the chicken bap, and the lingering spice of the sauces kept the taste buds pleased throughout the meal. I had to order extra servings of kimchi and japchae to prolong the goodness I was feeling. And then we capped the experience with a serving of their bingsu (the halo halo-like Korean dessert, priced at Php79), which was heavenly.
About two weeks later, we returned to the place. It was already way past lunchtime, but there were customers other than us. The Korean owner was there again, but now looking spritely. Safe to say there’s a growing number of people who have discovered Jeonju Bab’s flavors.