Picture this: you’re wandering the streets of Seoul during winter and you’re freezing. A piping hot claypot rice sure sounds super enticing, am I right?
One of the most popular dishes in Korea during winter — apart from Korean BBQ and samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) — is sotbap (rice pot) and there’s now a Korean restaurant in Singapore that specialises in this traditional dish.
Located along Tanjong Pagar, Sagye Korean Pot Rice and BBQ is the first sotbap specialty restaurant in Singapore. Fun fact, “sagye” actually translates to four seasons in Korean and Sagye’s dishes draw inspiration from the four seasons in Korea.
For those who are not familiar with the dish, sotbap feature various ingredients topped on rice and pressured cooked in a stainless steel pot. It’s a hearty meal that Koreans love, especially during winter.
Sagye puts a spin on the traditional sotbap by offering diners three choices of rice — plain Japanese rice, five grain rice or Japanese rice with sweet potatoes and ginkgo nuts.
On the menu are six variations of sotbap — three mainstays and three seasonal items. The ingredients for the seasonal items vary, depending on what’s in season in Korea. Since it’s currently winter in Korea, the three seasonal items are Abalone (S$38.80), Scallop (S$28.80) and Octopus (S$23.80).
We tried the Scallop sotbap which was topped generously with grilled scallop, mentaiko, flying fish roe, roasted sesame, chopped spring onions, and a savoury seafood sauce. To enjoy the dish the true Korean way, you have to add the sauce into the pot and mix everything together — much like our local claypot rice.
The savoury seafood sauce really helps to bring out the sweetness of the grilled scallops. The dish also had bits of pickled radish that gave it a nice and tangy crunch. The flying fish roe (or tobiko) added a burst of flavour to the dish and complemented the scallops and the scorched rice perfectly. You definitely have to get this before it is gone.
The three mainstay sotbaps are Chicken (S$17.80), Pork (S$21.80) and Beef Short Rib (S$32.80). We obviously went with the Beef Short Rib Sotbap because Koreans are known for their marinated beef.
The beef sotbap comes with tender and well-marinated grilled Australian beef short ribs, spring onions, and roasted sesame topped with a lovely raw egg yolk. It is paired with a sweeter soy sauce which elevates the smoky flavours of the beef.
I would have preferred if the rice was a little less mushy so that there’d be some texture in each bite. The beef were tender and juicy, however I felt that the scallop sotbap was more flavourful overall.
Don’t forget to ask the staff for some barley tea to be poured into your rice pot — yes, that’s right, the tea goes into the pot to give you a nice soothing scorched rice tea to help wash down the heavy meal.
Each pot is also prepared fresh to order, however you will be required to wait for some time before you get to dig into your hearty meal — but good things come to those who wait. While you wait, you can enjoy some of their yummy lunchtime snacks like the Fish and Prawn Katsu (S$12).
The real star of the meal was the Seafood Pancake (S$28). Unlike your regular seafood pancake, the one served here was super crispy and packed with a ton of fresh seafood like prawns and squid. Dip it in the tangy soy sauce for an even more flavourful bite.
The seafood pancake is only available during dinner time so make sure you order it to pair with your KBBQ!
Sagye only serves their sotbap during lunchtime, so make sure to come during their lunch hours if you wanna get your hands on their hearty sotbap.
Looking to try some new Korean dishes? Sagye Korean Pot Rice and BBQ is definitely the place to check out!
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Photo by Marcus Leong