It doesn’t get any better than Tobak when it comes to great Korean BBQ. I don’t claim to be an expert on authentic Korean food, but what I know is, when it comes to Korean BBQ, you want your money’s worth. Yep! A decent K-BBQ can be quite pricey in this town. Especially when you are looking for top quality beef for your Bulgogi (thinly sliced marinated beef), Seng Gal Bi (Beef Ribs) or Wu Sol (tongue so delicate that they practically melt like butter in your mouth). Tobak takes great pride in serving top quality beef. Be adventurous and order their famous raw meat (Yuk hoe). The combination of fresh raw meat, red as paint, with crystal like sliced pears and secret sauce (sesame oil and something else) will play with your taste buds in a “(I’m eating raw meat) this is so wrong and yet so right” kinda feeling.
Another point that you should always consider when enjoying a Korean feast is their quality and quantity of side dishes (Banchan) that comes as a compliment to any meal. Keep in mind that the price you are paying for your dish includes the cost for the Banchan. Thus my logic is, the more Banchan, the more worth it your meal is (Yes yes I sound very stingy :P ). Tobak gives you a vast variety of Banchan no matter what you order. From two types of Kimchi, Pajeon (Korean pancake), salads, veggies (Namul) etc, each with their own unique taste to compliment your chosen main dish.
Don’t make your K-BBQ a dry occasion. To balance out the meatiness of your meal, do try the mild spicy and savory Sundubu Jigae (Seafood and tofu soup). Or for hard core spicy lovers, let Kimchi Jigae’s (Kimchi Soup) spiciness and sourness breathe life into your meal. The Jap Chae (Stir Fried Rice noodle with veggies) and Kimchi Jeon (Kimchi Pancake dipped in sauce) are also good solid tasting side dishes that don’t come as a Banchan but worth ordering. And what’s a good K-BBQ without hot rice steamed? Tobak takes special care in their steamed white rice. Their rice is individually steamed with red beans in their own individual pots giving it an extra oomph of taste than your regular white rice. This fact, according to an avid K-drama friend who is usually my K-BBQ partner, is a sign of authentic Korean food.
On to drinks, Koreans love their alcoholic drinks. And a K-BBQ is best enjoyed with light and cool taste of Koreans fave drink, soju. But don’t let the airy taste fool you. Soju is stronger than sake and much more deadly than you think. Served in tiny shot-like glasses (but they are not shots, so by heavens! SIP don’t GULP!), soju will alarmingly catch you off guard.
Rightyo, what else am I missing? Ambience and décor. Hmmm… a humble presence on the outside compared to it’s more stylized neighboring Korean Restaurants that also thrives on the Walter Monginsidi Street. Inside, it gives out a very family restaurant feel with its simple and functional décor. A few Korean tidbits here and there such as paintings and souvenirs, but the vocal point of the place is the giant screen which usually broadcast golf tournaments. Its laidback enough for families to eat with jeans and t-shirts, and also, judging from the onslaught of Korean businessman after office hours, an ideal and no nonsense place to enjoy home cooked meal and a good stiff drink after a long days work.
With all Korean Restaurant, service is another important aspect for repeat
offenders patrons. Korean BBQ is all about the BBQ after all. So how the staff grill your dish on the table, and how they go about catering to your every whim is crucial. I give Tobak a 9 for their excellent service. The waitresses are alert and friendly. Ocha glasses are always refilled promptly and banchan refills are done without judgment (I once asked for a Kimchi refill… Thrice!). The hostess is usually a charming ahjuma (auntie) that will make a point to stop by and say hello.
Final Judgement: One of Live to Eat’s favorite restaurant.
Price for Satifaction: Very satisfactory. It’s on the very pricey side I admit. It’s not a place you would go to everyday, but make an event out of when you do go.
Stand Out Menu: Their raw meat is delicious. Hands down.
- Do it the Korean way and make lil’ sandwiches with your rice, meat, garlic and Gochujang (Fermented non spicy chilli paste) wrapped in lettuce or sesame leafs that are amply provided.
- Don’t forget to order your Nurungji (The crisp thin layer of rice left on the bottom of the pot when cooking rice which is eaten as a snack) from your rice pot and eat them with kimchi for an added excitement.
Overall 1-10: 9
Note: Make a reservation for immediate seating. It’s not fun to wait and be hungry while the whole place smells like grilled beef.
Tobak Korean Restaurant
Phone: (021) 725-1135
Fax: (021) 7280-0753
Jl. Wolter Monginsidi No. 30
Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta
11:00 - 22:00