Quibranza: Banchan on a budget

A fairly new food place opened up in Filinvest Cebu Cyberzone Tower 1 - Salinas Drive cor. W. Geonzon St., Lahug, Cebu City. It’s called Barangay Seoul Express and offers its own twist when it comes to introducing or serving Korean food to Cebuanos.

What do I mean exactly?

So there’s your typical Korean restaurant with a la carte dishes. There are also your chicken and beer joints. Then there are the mega popular Korean grills. The last one, you can divide into two: meat served a la carte or unlimited.

Barangay Seoul Express introduces a Build Your Own Meal concept (remember the DIY pizzas of yesteryear?). A diner gets a food tray (reminiscent of canteens) and goes through “five steps” or food stations, really:

Step 1: Get approximately two, three cups of steamed white rice

Step 2: Get one main dish — choices are Spicy Pork, Korean Fried Chicken, Pork Bulgogi or Garlic Soy Chicken

Step 3: Get one side dish — choices are Ttoekbokki, Japchae, Steamed Egg or Site-Fried Fishcake

Step 4: Get two vegetable sides — choices are Kimchi, Coleslaw, Pickled Kangkong, Braised Potato, Cucumber Kimchi, Pickled Onion, Bean Sprout Salad or Lettuce & Ssamjang.

Step 5: Get your choice of soup — Kimchi Soup, Bean Paste Soup or Seaweed Soup.

The best part (and the reason that makes this all newsworthy, really): Get a full Korean meal for only P149.

Like mentioned, the place feels, looks and operates like a canteen. This is not to take away from the affordable and tasty meal one can expect to get here, but rather a notable takeaway for people to be able to manage their expectations.

The best part about this place is having ”banchan” on a budget. You can get a little sampling of everything, without having to shell out serious money for unlimited meat or fancy meals.

In Korea, the small side dishes served along with cooked rice are called “banchan.”

Are you hungry yet? Here’s my recommended combo: Rice, Korean Fried Chicken, Cucumber Kimchi, Lettuce & Ssamjang, Ttteokbokki and Kimchi Soup.

Try it. I would be surprised if it doesn’t end up as your favorite as well!