Address: 31 Tanjong Pagar Road #01-01
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 12-3pm, 6pm-3am. Closed on Sundays.
Budget: $20-$30 per person (10% Service Charge)
By London Girl
So what’s the difference between Saba and Mackerel?
Since I happened to be in the Tanjong Pagar area today, SG Boy and I decided to pop by Todamgol for dinner. We arrived at about 6.45pm and were lucky to have seats despite not having made any reservations.
Service and Décor
Service was rather efficient. The authenticity of the restaurant was also proven by the fact that the staff were native Koreans who could only manage a mouthful of English. I thought the décor was rather cute as it resembled a tropical beach hut more than a traditional Korean restaurant.
Korean Ban Chan
Banchan, or Korean side dishes, are a norm in Korean restaurants and are refillable. I enjoyed the steamed pumpkin while SG Boy loved the kimchi which packed a punch. Other sides included spicy fish cake, chili cucumber, potato strips with carrot and korean seaweed seasoned with sweetened vinegar.
The menu, however, got us confused. We couldn’t decide between the Grilled Saba ($18) and the Grilled Mackerel ($12) (꽁치구이 or ggong chi gu-i). After all, aren’t they supposed to mean the same thing? Why is there a difference of $6 then? Nevertheless, being cheapos (HAHA), we ordered the latter.
Grilled Mackerel Pike ($12)
We think we discovered the answer after the dish arrived. The fish was sleek and slender (I sound like I’m describing a new smartphone), unlike the Grilled Saba Mackerel that we’ve eaten in many other Korean restaurants. I guess that probably justified its cheaper price tag. But then again, we’ll only know the real answer after we’ve tried the Grilled Saba on the menu. Next time then!
Before: Bibimbap means bibim (mix) your bap (rice)!
After: Mixed Rice!
The Yang Poon bibimbap ($20) (Korean Mixed Vegetables Rice) came in a BASIN. Not bowl, but BASIN! It was more than enough to feed two small-eaters, or maybe just adequate for one dinosaur. The gochujang (chili paste) that came with the rice wasn’t sufficient so we had to ask for more – fortunately the staff were very obliging in giving us extra chili paste. Overall, the bibimbap was rather plain IMO since it didn’t come in a hot stone bowl so the eating experience wasn’t as authentic. The dish would also have been nicer if it was topped with a sunny side-up. After all, part of the shiokness derived from eating bibimbap comes from mixing the runny egg yolk into the rice right? SG Boy thought that it was pretty authentic as it reminded him of the bibimbap he had in Korea and Beijing.
All in all, the bill came up to about $40 for both of us ($2++ for tea and towel) and it’s rather steep considering that we only had two dishes. It would definitely be a wiser choice to pop by the place for lunch (they have lunch sets ranging from $8 to $22++) as they have more affordable lunch sets as well as a wider selection of dishes (such as the jjigae soups that aren’t available for dinner). The food portions are generally quite huge (a few tables around us over-ordered and couldn’t finish their food) so sharing is advisable. I might come back for lunch another time, but I think Kim’s Family is still my favourite Korean restaurant. :D
3.35/5 LG Kimchi
Postscript by SG Boy
After some research and consultation with SG Boy’s Korean friends, we finally knew the answer to the difference between the two dishes. The Grilled Mackerel at Tomdamgol refers to mackerel pike or Pacific Saury, so anyone well-versed in Korean would have known what it is (꽁치 or ggong chi = mackerel pike; 구이 or gu-i = roasted; this dish is listed under the section called “구이”). In Chinese, it is known as 秋刀鱼 because it resembles a knife and is a common dish in Korea. The Grilled Saba here probably refers to Blue Mackerel, or Saba (in Japanese terms), a meatier member of the mackerel family, which is usually served at other Korean restaurants. (It can also be bought at the Lotte Mart a few shops down the street!) So do be careful when you order your dishes here the next time!
Also, did you know that mackerel contains a high amount of omega-3 fats, which is good for our heart? Unfortunately, mackerel has a high cholesterol content too and is often roasted, so do remember to take a stroll along Tanjong Pagar after your meal to walk off those calories, like we did!