We’ve heard of pigs that are fed only acorns, olives or veggies; some are even given beer-soaked food. What they eat affects the pork’s market price, which explains why they differ so widely.
At the newly reopened upscale Korean restaurant Oori in Sheraton Manila Hotel, the pork comes from Spanish Duroc pigs, which are fed only chestnuts. This pork is quite amusingly also known as the “Angus beef for pork” for its juiciness from the breed’s diet.
At a recent food tasting at Oori, whose name translates to “ours,” we tried their samgyupsal in one of its private dining rooms. The table for 16 was set up for only 10 and you don’t have to mix with other guests in the resto, which is ideal for a family lunch or dinner.
“Oori is inspired by the hotel’s brand of being a gathering place for family and friends,” according to Sheraton Manila.
Executive Korean chef Park Kibum spoiled us with his creations starting with refillable banchan or Korean side dishes (16 to choose from!). Chef Park has been based in the country for seven years and is married to a Cebuana.
I have to say my fave of his dishes is the Korean bean paste soup or Haemul Denjang Jjigae. It has a hint of heat and sourness that play in your mouth so beautifully with every spoonful.
I could have eaten only that soup alone and gone away satisfied. But when you’re with friends and colleagues—occasions that are few and far between these days—samgyupsal makes it so much more enjoyable.
What sets one Korean barbecue from another is the quality of meats and the grill. At Oori, the grill is designed to barbecue a variety of meats—flat grill for pork and net grill for beef so that the meat cooks evenly.
And it is a smokeless grill which, to me, is an amazing piece of cooking technology. There’s no need for those table chimneys thanks to its downdraft ventilation.
The meats at Oori include Australian Mulwarra Wagyu 9+, which is the highest recognized marble score in Australia, boneless prime rib and top blade; and the Duroc Spanish pork with belly, jowl and collar parts.
All the meats are so tender and juicy, and the flavor comes out with a dash of salt and oil that they thoughtfully serve on the side for each diner.
If you’re not in the mood to grill and want just a quick meal, Oori has a bibimbap bar—very similar to a ramen bar—no muss, no fuss, just a hearty meal in an upscale space.
You can choose Bulgogi (sweet soy sauce marinated beef), Haemul (spicy marinated seafood) or Sisig, the Filipino iteration of the classic bibimbap. The Dakgangjung or Korean fried chicken comes in sweet and spicy sauce and perfect with Tteok Bokki (rice and fish cake). There are also options for savory pancakes from Yachae Jeun or assorted vegetables to Kimchi Jeun loaded with their signature kimchi.
Haemul Ramyeun, a spicy noodle in assorted seafood broth with prawns, squid, and mussels as well as their sweet and tangy japchae (stir-fried glass noodle with beef and vegetables), is also a great choice.
For dessert, choose from the traditional Korean shaved ice bingsu drizzled with milk and topped seasonal fruits.
Our dessert is Dulce Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich. It’s literally two of my fave sweet endings in one. We’re not talking about tiny macarons here, but the size of a drinking glass’ bottom to sandwich the ice cream drizzled with caramel.
A mashita sweet ending indeed.
Oori at Sheraton Manila is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. For inquiries and reservation, call 79021800, (0956) 317-3986. Visit Sheraton’s website or follow their social media pages @sheratonmanila.