A Little Bit of Kimchi at Sarang Bahng

I’ve never been very much impressed with Korean food. Aside kimchi, I cannot for the life of me remember what else is authentically Korean. Plus, I don’t take beef.
So it seemed that Korean food wasn’t much to rave about until I had to figure out a place to bring my 23-year-old cousin on her birthday.
Why I settled on Sarang Bahng, a Korean restaurant nestled near the famous (though I cannot figure why) Siriwan Thai restaurant at Krystal Point, Bayan Baru, Penang is also beyond me. Maybe I heard reviews that it was palatable. Plus I wanted to surprise my cousin too. She’s a funky young woman with eccentric tastes so I believed she would be game to try some kimchi.
Off we went on a Saturday, accompanied by my other cousin and her doting boyfriend (actually, it’s good he is doting. He could drive us to wherever we wanted to go! And it is always better to be a passenger than a driver any day).

One wall is covered with A4-sized Korean movies posters.
Sarang Bahng doesn’t have much in terms of decor. Sure, it has lots of Korean knick-knacks – dolls in traditional dress, Korean movie star posters, colourful fans, etc. But it didn’t strike me as particularly Korean.

The menu was also simple to the point of being stark. It was all of 3 pages, with 2 pages dedicated to main dishes while the 3rd page was for drinks. Well, less choice meant we could make up our minds faster.

I had been forewarned that the servings were generous so we each ordered a main dish. The lady owner was distinctively Korean, and when we were there for lunch, there was just one other table occupied. She took our orders quickly and relayed them to her chef, whom I heard is actually her husband.
Service was all right because our food arrived some 20 minutes later. The condiments came first – sliced radish, black beans, fried crispy anchovies, shredded cabbage, and the ubiquitous kimchi. To whet the appetite I guess.

You can ask for more condiments once you’ve finished them.

No Korean meal will be complete without kimchi.
My main meal was Dak Kal Bi, rice with spicy chicken fillet topped with shredded omelette, fresh lettuce, shredded cabbage and a dollop of something which resembled fried noodles.

My Dak Kal Bi.
It was a huge serving because cousin’s boyfriend (a big eater, like all 20-something men are) commented at the end of the meal that he was really stuffed! But overall, I enjoyed the spicy chicken – not fiery spicy but spicy enough to complement the stickiness of the Korean rice. Think mild-tasting satay without the sticks.
This is how cousin’s Bulgoki order looked like.
Birthday Cousin’s order of stirfried beef on rice or Bulgoki was another winner. Being the non-beef eater, I nevertheless sampled her fragrant rice. Basically, everything in her bowl looked like mine, except that instead of spicy chicken, it came with stirfried, tender beef slices in a delicious gravy.
Her sister, my other cousin, however, made the mistake of ordering the kimchi stew. The kimchi stew was clearly too spicy and didn’t contain enough ingredients to make it a filling meal. I thought it was a rather big bowl of stew for such a small bowl of rice, unless of course, if one wanted to burn’s one’s insides with all of the stew. Tasting a bit like laksa, but with a lot more kick, the stew clearly was a disappointment. It showed on cousin’s face because she couldn’t finish it in the end.
Complementary dessert arrived soon after in delicate dessert bowls. I didn’t ask what it was called in Korean but it’s a bit like a Chinese dessert soup. Clear on the palate, the sweet soup was redolent of spices like cinnamon and cardamom. It was served slightly chilled but my other cousin disliked the smell of it and relinquished dessert to her boyfriend.
Overall, it was a pleasant, quiet lunch in a homey cafe. The only sounds (besides the piped in Korean music) came from the cute Korean toddler whom I presumed was the owner’s daughter.
I was supposed to order a dish highly recommended by my other half – the Korean Ginseng with Chicken – but the day was too warm for any more warming tonic. A friend of his is such a fan of this place that she dines there 3 to 4 times a week!
I can’t say I am a whiz at Korean food but this place is lovely for what I presume is rather homely Korean fare. The bill for the four of us, with drinks, came up to RM80.
Sarang Bahng is located at Krystal Point, Bayan Baru, Penang.

4 thoughts on “A Little Bit of Kimchi at Sarang Bahng”

  1. wow…what a glutton weekend. U were just fresh from ttualang. OK i can sum up 3 things on u. U can be a writer(philosphical one), e-commerce managress/founder and a food critic. I am not gonna cook lar.

  2. hello keatdhensem,
    haha…yes, you know the glutton me. yep, tg tualang review is coming up soon, after I do the Cherating trip write-up. So now you know… take the hint and bring me somewhere good the next time I’m in KL!

  3. though a bit pricier, give the korean restaurant at sheraton a try, for the korean ginseng chicken soup. it’s definitely a dish to try, and pretty close (about 97.8%!) to the one i had in Korea, the only difference being the dish was a full self-contained meal in the restaurant i had it in Korea, and the one in the Sheraton is good for about 2 people. =)


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