My wife and I celebrated our anniversary last week. And this meant that, apart from the obvious, we had a good reason to stuff our faces. Although eating out is the one luxury we frequently allow ourselves to give in to, we go easy on buffets and other unlimited-food offerings because we find them excessive, both in cost and quantity. But anniversaries are an opportune time to engage in things like unli samgyeopsal binge eating, right? And so we did.
Having had a pleasant experience indulging in the famous Korean dish while drinking in a view of the singularly scenic Taal Lake at Samgyupsalamat Tagaytay earlier this year, my wife and I chose Mr. Kimchi Tagaytay for our anniversary celebration. Like Samgyupsalamat, Mr. Kimchi is a Korean restaurant chain whose most popular offering, arguably, is its unlimited samgyeopsal.
Where is Mr. Kimchi in Tagaytay?
Mr. Kimchi Tagaytay is located at Vista Real Hotel, which is along Tagaytay-Calamba Road and just a stone’s throw away from the Tagaytay rotunda. The restaurant, which is on the same level as the main entrance of the hotel, is spacious and includes a covered area and a patio. The foyer and roofed dining area are airy enough and have ample natural light, but if you’re there for a complete experience, you’d want to be seated where you can bask in the soft sunlight and cool air of the city and marvel at the natural scenery across the horizon while dining.
What they offer
Mr. Kimchi offers different unlimited samgyeopsal deals, out of which we chose the one with a combination of pork and beef. It came with side dishes, drinks, and rice, which were all unlimited too. The side dishes included kimchi, japchae (stir-fried noodles), fish cake, sangchu geotjeori (lettuce salad), and gyeran mari (rolled egg). The drinks, meanwhile, were your usual-brand iced tea and cucumber lemon juice.
RELATED: Vlog 1 | An Ode to Tagaytay
There’s the temptation to compare Mr. Kimchi to Samgyupsalamat because of their many similarities, but it’s in the best interest of everyone to judge Mr. Kimchi, or Samgyupsalamat for that matter, on its own merits. We could say we prefer one to the other because of such and such and others might have a different opinion. What’s guaranteed is that we enjoyed both places.
So, how was Mr. Kimchi? The first thing to note is that the restaurant snagged a splendid location; the view is panoramic and will indeed enhance anyone’s dining experience. The service, in our experience, is efficient thanks to the buzzer at every table which you use to signal the staff for refills. It’s a neat feature that comes in handy especially when you’re too busy enjoying your food to raise your hand and scour the place for a waiter to ask for another helping of food or drink.
It’s all about the flavor
And then, of course, the food. We were given only one cut type each of beef and pork. But what Mr. Kimchi lacks in variety it more than makes up for in the quality of the meats. The pork and beef, thinly sliced, produced an enticing aroma while being cooked and tasted fresh whether you had them crispy or tender. The sauces, particularly the red spicy one, gave the meats’ taste a fine accent. But, if I’m being honest, the dip in question did more than accentuate the taste of the meats; it was a defining element of the entire meal for me, a lover of spicy food. And it wasn’t mindless spice either. There was a lovely range to it.
The side dishes might as well be called main dishes because they were crazy good and deserved as much attention. The sweet potatoes, not overly sweet, provided a pleasing contrast to the dominant saltiness of the meal. The kimchi at Mr. Kimchi was the tastiest one I’d had in a while, and the lettuce salad’s sauce was nothing short of magical. My only gripe was the side dishes came in small servings, and so I had to press the buzzer a lot for more of them.