Move over kimchi, crunchy spicy-sweet Korean chicken is where it’s at – and this hidden gem – Taste of Korea: Amazing Chicken – in Al Ghubra is serving up some of Muscat’s best. Alvin Thomas brings his appetite.
Naming your restaurant is quite a difficult task. You can’t come across as pretentious but you also can’t be vague with the name. Regardless, going ahead and naming your restaurant ‘Amazing Chicken’ – which is where I headed this week – is a bold step. It’s like naming your newborn child Taylor Swift or Lionel Messi. You best expect them to grow up into somebody special or worth remembering.
In line with that theory, the Taste of Korea – Amazing Chicken restaurant isn’t just about the name; it’s got good game too. But I may be jumping the gun here.
Hidden deep in the dark shadows of the building opposite to the Omani school in Ghubra, this Korean restaurant is situated in the last place you’d normally look. So, arming yourself with Google Maps is advisable.
Nevertheless, once you’re inside, there’s no way to tell that you’re still in Muscat, save for a framed copy of Y Magazine’s past review of the restaurant from three years ago. The décor inside is tasteful and not too overpowering while the amber lights set the tone just right.
It’s exactly what one would expect to see from a Korean restaurant – or so I imagine. That, coupled with the welcoming staff, and the unblemished and clean interiors, paved the way for a very enjoyable night.
The waiter was swift to bring us our menu card, and the starving bunch that we were, we didn’t spend too much time mucking about either.
We hastily ordered a diet cola, a pitcher of Korean green tea, and a dukbokki to set the ball in motion. As for the main course, we stuck to the basics: kimchi fried rice, a half-and-half platter of GanJang and YangNyeon DakGangJungs, and two beef steaks.
The starter arrived quickly – in about five minutes – and we found ourselves gorging into the delectable rice cakes that were smothered in Korean chilli paste and freshly baked veggies.
The sticky rice cakes were spot on in consistency and went well with the chilli paste, but the accompanying tofu had a seafood essence to it – almost like it was dipped in a bowl of fish stock. Still, we reckoned that it tasted quintessentially Korean.
The dishes from our main course arrived even before we were done with the dukbokki.
The beef steak was a live preparation and would take a good five minutes, so the waiter set an induction cooker on our table to begin fixing the dish. It only took a few seconds for the aura of freshly grilled beef, onions and mushrooms, to emanate from the cooker.
And before we knew it, our table became the focal point of the restaurant as the other customers all laid their eyes on the sizzling steaks.
Soon after, we were served our kimchi fried rice – which was topped off with sausages and a sunny side up egg. The presentation was top notch, but once our forks laid into the egg, there was nothing stopping the towering bowl of rice from being torn down and being permeated in a thick layer of yolk.
The piping hot plate of rice was so appetising that we didn’t even bat an eye at the servings of omelette slices, napa cabbage, garlic, broccoli, and shredded chicken that were on our table.
But at the request of the waiter, we decked our rice with cubes of well-done beef, freshly cooked mushrooms and onions. And boy, he was right: Mixing the four ingredients together split the flavours of the dish to take it up to a whole new level.
That said, the star of the night wasn’t the fried rice, but rather the DakGangJungs chicken. Oh, how I crave for a serving of the dish while I’m writing this.
One half of the chicken in the dish was dipped in sweet and mild soy sauce, while the other half was smothered in a savoury chilli sauce. The result was simply staggering (!) and almost reminiscent to the soul food that’s served in the US.
Needless to say, the freshly fried and marinated chicken slices disappeared from the plate without any warning – and before we knew it, we had greedily licked the plate clean. The crispy outer coating, and the soft and steamy meat stood no chance against our growing appetite and our determination to devour it all.
The Taste of Korea – Amazing Chicken may not be situated in the most upscale – or for that matter even the most accessible – part of town, but it certainly struck the ball out of the park during our night out. When it comes to the quality of food, presentation, and overall ambience, we’re not sure there are many other restaurants in the city that can take Amazing Chicken on. In my books, this humble Korean restaurant is aces.
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