Tae Woo Korean Restaurant – Singapore’s Best Jajangmyeon

Tae Woo Korean Restaurant  (태우반점)

Jajangmyeon, is a Korean dish well known by all. Before my trip to Seoul, little did I know that Jajangmyeon is not readily available in any Korean restaurant but only selling it in Chinese restaurant in Korea. It is kind of a fusion between Chinese and Korean dish. Jajangmyeon is one of the first Korean dishes that i’d known because it’s quite commonly found in Singapore. In this post, I’m writing about the best one that I had in Singapore. Tae Woo Korean Restaurant is situated at level 3 of The Central Clarke Quay, just above TCC. Tae Woo actually has quite a reputation among the Singapore Korean community due to it’s authentic Korean taste. This place is not crowded most of the time, but I’m bound to see Korean speaking patrons whenever I visit this place. There isn’t any hot stone rice, Korean BBQ and there’s also no Army Stew on their menu. What they are offering are more of a typical Chinese Korean menu like Jajangmyeon, Seafood Noodle (Jjamppong), Sweet and Sour Pork (Tangsuyuk) and Gyoja.

Menu: Click to enlarge

Jajangmyeon ($12.00++)

At $12.00, i consider this as reasonably priced. I really like the texture of their handmade noodle. It’s rather chewy, a little soft but not to the extend of soggy. The Jajang is not starchy and not overly watery but with just the right thickness that clings to every strand of noodle. The sweetness of their bean paste sauce mainly come from the cubes of meat and the onions, which is cooked till melty soft. The slight greasy Jajang is smooth and really enjoyable. For people that like it salty, you can stir in the separate plate of their Chunjang. Comparing to the Jajangmyeon that I had in Singapore, Taewoo’s is easily the best that i had and it is very very similar to the one in Seoul (read more about Andongjang, the oldest Korean Chinese restaurant in Seoul). Tangsuyuk ($26.00++)

Tangsuyuk is another very popular Chinese dish in Korea. It translate directly to Sweet & Vinegar Pork (糖醋肉). The idea is very similar to our Singapore’s sweet and sour pork, whereby pork is portioned into bite size, breaded and fried, and tossed in a sweet sour sauce. There’s no pineapple, but these stripes of pork is tossed into a mix of onion, carrot and black fungus and the sour taste mainly come from white vinegar. Unlike our Singapore style sweet sour pork, there is traces of ginger taste in the breading. It is quite good when it’s served and it’s a pity that the sweet vinegar sauce is a little too much and the crispy pork strips got soaked and became soggy after a while. I personally still think that cutting pork into cubes give a better texture than strips. For the price of $26 and for it’s portion, I would prefer our Singapore style sweet and sour pork. Japchae Bap ($17.00++)

Chapchae can be served as both main course and side dish. In this case, it’s served together with a portion of rice as Japchae Bap. It is freshly stir fried and served steaming hot. Apart from the usual ingredient carrot and onion, Taewoo’s version is a more luxurious version with added slices of pork, black fungus and green pepper. This Japchae is slightly peppery and is full of sesame oil fragrance. Unlike the side dish version of Japchae where it’s cold, drier with a bouncy texture, this is served hot, moist and soft. It also comes as a surprise as I didn’t realise that Japchae actually goes pretty well with white rice. I have no complain on this Japchae and in fact it’s pretty good! Conclusion

At a glance of the menu, i wouldn’t use the word affordable to describe the price tag of the dishes. Among them, their Jajangmyeon should be the most reasonably priced and sometimes I will visit Taewoo just for that when I’m having craving for some authentic Korean Jajangmyeon. Taewoo is a hidden gem at The Central and there’s not much crowd here and I like the fact that i can always get a table immediately. I wouldn’t recommend to start a feast at Taewoo as it might cost you a bomb. I do recommend their Jajangmyeon very much, and probably try out the other dishes, one new dish per visit.

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Coffee Libre – The (Really) Hidden Gem among Hongdae Cafes

Coffee Libre (커피 리브레)

English Address (Google Map) : 227-15 Yeonnam, Mapo, Seoul

Korean Address: 서울시 마포구 연남동 227-15a

Operating hours: 12.00 pm – 9.00 pm, closed every Monday

I recommend you to use Naver Map for direction to Libre Coffee as it’s more accurate.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Introduction

Coffee Libre is situated far from the happening part of Hongdae (홍대) and is tucked at a quiet corner at an old warehouse area. At a glance, no one would have guessed that such a inconspicuous cafe is far more popular than expected among the locals.

They don’t serve any food, not even puff or pastry. There are only two tables in the cafe, and the sitting capacity of the cafe is less than 10. And yet long queues were formed during working day’s meal hours. The reason? Quality coffee beans.

The Coffee Machine almost took up half of the space in the cafe. And from this angle, you can see both tables, one on the left, and one on the right.

Background of Coffee Libre

Coffee Libre is actually a side venture from their main line of coffee bean roasting (and they had won numerous awards). The team behind the roaster travels around the world in search of the best coffee beans and is involved in multiple coffee-related events in Seoul. Champion Barista Sang Ho Park has been using their beans in the UK Barista Championship. Sang Ho took the 2013 UK Brewers Cup title at The London Coffee Festival.

I’m sitting at one of the two tables

Their Coffee

On menu, Coffee Libre only serves 3 kinds of coffee – Espresso, Caffè Latte (espresso with milk) and Americano (espresso with water), at W$4000 each. Each cup of coffee is prepared by using their one of three kinds of espresso beans of the day.

Their menu with three kinds of beverages

You may also purchase their freshly roasted coffee bean and upon request, they will make a cuppa aeropress coffee for you right on the spot.

Generally, the espresso beans used in Singapore has quite a standard taste so that it’s widely accepted by the public. I tried Libre’s “Bad Blood” espresso bean and was blown away. The taste totally differs from the typical espresso taste. The coffee taste of bright acidity with a complex fruit blend.  I can’t really handle the taste as it totally deviates from Singapore’s traditional espresso bean. I had never tasted such a sour coffee in my life.

Initially i ordered their caffe latte (right) and notice the out-of-the-ordinary tinge of sour in their coffee and so i ordered the espresso (left) to confirm it.

The Caffe Latte at W$4000

I sat at the table and observed how did the Barista made an aeropress coffee for one of the customers who purchased coffee beans from the shelf. Perhaps he noticed how interested and captivated I were, he actually served the extra portion to me, free of charge. This roast is much easier to accept and I love it – Just a tinge of acidity, strong flavor and absolutely aromatic. The only problem is, I forgot to ask about the bean used. Zzz.

Here are some of the interesting roasts that Coffee Libre has to offer. Note that these roasts are seasonal:

Farenda Sertaozinho (Yellow Bourbon / Pulped Natural)

Jasmine, Peach, Grape, Milk Chocolate

Verde Alto (Caturra / Washed)

Orange, Lime, Pineapple, Caramel

The old school rustic feel is certainly amplified by the presence of herbal medicine shelf

Conclusion

This little coffee place is definitely not easy to locate and may require some effort. Apart from visiting the usual cafe that serves mediocre coffee, if you are interested to visit a cafe that is a little out of the ordinary and to widen your palate for handcrafted coffee, Coffee Libre may be the place for you.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Maps and Directions

I use the Naver Map for Coffee Libre because i think it is much more accurate with more accurate details.

1. If i remember correctly, i came out from Hongdae Exit 4. I had to walk along the main road to the right to cross the road using traffic light. These are some really wide roads.

2. Then, there’s another traffic light to cross over to the Coffee Libre side. I can’t recall why i didn’t come out from Exit 3 already.

3. Anyway, after you crossed to the Coffee Libre side, walk straight and you need to turn to your left into a small alley. This is the crucial part. See my photos below.

Click to enlarge

This is the crucial turning point. I miss this turn as it’s relatively easy to miss

This is how the small alley looks like after you turn in. Walk straight and you should be able to see Coffee Libra.

You should be able to see Coffee Libre on your right. You can easily identify it by the head of the Wrestler.