Tucked away in a dark street beside a lively Arabian restaurant, Makchang is easy to miss if you are not particularly observant. Keep your eyes peeled next time you pass by Adriatico Street, because the Korean barbecue they serve is heavenly! The restaurant is always packed, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. In fact, Makchang prides itself in having a huge fan base of native Koreans — a stamp of approval that the food is authentic and delicious.
Makchang is a staple for my family and I. One time, we were even willing to wait an hour for a table (yes, that good). What makes it so great, you ask? I’ve thought about it, and I came to the conclusion that it is because of the simplicity of the restaurant’s offerings. A meal at Makchang is often comprised of barbecue beef or pork + steaming bowl of white rice + soup + spicy fermented vegetables.
The restaurant was surprisingly empty when I arrived. Perhaps because it was a bit early for dinner.
This is their menu. Don’t let the limited options fool you — the food they have at hand is more than satisfying. You get to choose from pork, beef and even innards (if you are courageous enough!). You can also opt to choose if you prefer it marinated or not.
Fun fact: The waiter told us that no one — aside from the owners — knows the recipe of the marinade. It is made by the owners, then sent out to the restaurants daily.
The service at Makchang was fast. The moment we sat down, bowls of complimentary soup were served and all of our utensils were laid out in a flash. The soup was a tasty broth with strips of lettuce. It whet my appetite for what was to come.
Unlike other restaurants that use electric grills, Makchang opts for the old-fashioned, charcoal experience. It would have made it sweltering hot, but the great exhaust system they had prevented that.
Makchang provided complimentary side dishes: kimchi, spicy radish and a sweet and spicy vegetable mix. They also gave us dips for the meat and lettuce for wrapping them in.
THIS. I don’t know what this dish is called, but it belongs in fermented-vegetable heaven! The scallions and bean sprouts were fresh and crisp and were seasoned with the most amazing spices that created the perfect sweet and spicy harmony. Best paired with a spoonful of rice and a slice of meat.
The waiter brought the marinated pork galbi and began to grill it skillfully. He adjusted the vent every once in a while to make sure the smoke was not blowing into our faces.
Waiter appreciation: The servers at Makchang are all very attentive, ready to cater to your every need — be it a refill of water, tissue or more side dishes (I am guilty of polishing those off).
He then cut up the pork into smaller pieces. Just like that, it was time to eat! (Thank goodness. I was already drooling from watching.)
How to eat: Dip in sauce and pop in mouth. Follow that with a spoonful of rice and fermented vegetables. Groan with happiness. Repeat like there’s no tomorrow.
Here is another way I like to enjoy the meat: grab a piece of lettuce, pat down a spoonful of rice, fermented vegetables and top with a glistening piece of tender meat.
The piece of pork galbi in all of its gloriousness. Wrap the lettuce and the contents like a spring roll and take a huge bite. You can thank me later.
Easily the star of the meal. The moment it hit the grill, I was at the edge of my seat, eyeing the magnificent marbled beef hungrily.
I almost fainted out of happiness when I ate the piece of beef. It was so juicy and it just melted in my mouth. Dipping it in the oil-based sauce with salt and pepper only enhanced its flavour and made it so divine.
I will never forget this beef. Never. I shall return.
After I returned from heaven, my gaze feel upon a plate of uncooked sweet potatoes. Curious, I asked the waiter how it was supposed to be cooked.
Grinning, he slid the pieces of sweet potato onto the grill along with the thin slices of beef we were to devour next. He explained that the fat from the beef would aid the sweet potato to cook, as it is normally prepared with oil.
The sweet potato was meh. It was on the hard and crunchy side and unlike its name, not sweet.
We helped ourselves to the beef. It was not at good as the previous one, but pretty tasty.
It took several attempts and looking like an idiot trying to balance chopsticks on one hand and my phone on the other to take this picture.
Makchang is highly recommended if you want to treat yourself to authentic Korean barbecue. It is not fine dining, but the dishes they put out are fit for a king! Moreover, the prices are very reasonable for high-quality meat.
Address: 1782 M. Adriatico St, Malate, Manila