I am unsure if there are others who feel the same way as i did whenever i watch Korean variety shows like Running Man venture into their local markets and celebrities start indulging in street food like Tteokbokki; i get frustrated as i couldn't have any and instant ones i bought from Korean supermarkets were downright crappy!
While Singapore has been inundated with Korean bbq restaurants to satisfy the citizens' craving for grilled meat in recent years, this is the first time i hear of an eatery offering a buffet for Tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes); you get to taste a wider variety at a higher quality! Maybe even better than those from the Korean variety shows.
Dooki has only operated for 18 days yet through apparent word of mouth, it had gained quite a following and there was already a long queue when we arrived. I am so glad my friends had made a reservation and we were ushered in almost immediately.
I couldn't quite decide when to include the above photograph but guess the summary might be beneficial to have it nearer to the start of this post for a few reasons; the pricing, the time limit for your meal and the all-important instructions!
Basic table setup - the induction cooktop, a pot on it for your rice cakes, round saucepans that are actually your dining bowls, a metal canister that holds the soup base, a ladle to mix and stir the tteokbokki mix. Missing from the table are a deep and big metal bowl for the ingredients that you pick from the self bars and a deeper saucepan-like ladle for the tteokbokki sauce.
Like Yoogane, there's a drawer by the side where you can pull out for your cutlery and typical of Korean restaurants, there are tissues for you to wipe your mouth! Hate it when some dining establishments charge us separately for wet tissues.
What are self bars? The above would keep you a good overview of them; well, they are your typical counters for buffet items and wait, first timers like us should wait for the assigned staff member to begin a required introduction.
Please be assured it will not be a historical lesson on the company's origins! Rather, the staff member would patiently explain the table setup, how to enjoy dookki (which means two meals) and what expect from the buffet lines.
Like the different kinds of tteokbokki; the ones which are more popular, have a softer texture, unique shapes etc. All this while, i thought Korean rice cakes were limited to the white chalk-like ones! An eye opener indeed.
Aside from tteokbokki, you could also mix in vegetables, sausages, sotong balls, meat balls, fish cake etc. Do note that in reality, there were more than the 8 ingredients shown on the display poster!
In case your tummy could still take in more carbohydrates (i honestly couldn't and wouldn't want to as i am a huge fan for carbo-light meals), you may indulge further in a bowl of Korean ramyeon.
Another Korean street favourite, especially during winter time; fish cake in soup! This was so good to have on a cold winter night and i remember it well in my Korea trip!
Instructions on how to enjoy your fish cake! Take a picture using your mobile phone and refer to it later when you are indulging in a skewer of fish cake.
Noodles to go with your tteokbokki; QQ noodle, glass noodle, rice noodle, instant noodle and sweet potato noodle. Noodle lovers would be ecstatic!
Create your own tteokbokki sauce of varying spicy level - combine them using the following five sauces that were imported from Korea; dookki, tteokbokki (spicy), jajang, gungjung and flame (spicy)!
Not sure how much to put? Refer to the above recipes! Still not confident enough? Check with the staff member who was, at this point, still explaining to us. Honestly, a hungry man can't absorb much and furthermore, i was also busy taking photographs!
Trays of cooked food with simple Korean deep fried like chicken, mandu (dumplings), sweet potatoes and fish cake. I did recall that the staff member was saying the deep fried food were generally cold as you could also mix them into the tteokbokki pot. Hm... or did she say we can dip the fried food into the sauce?
Kimchi, corn and seaweed - the basic ingredients for the second meal; fried rice!
This was the friendly and chatty staff member assigned to us and she was so passionate of her work; i found out later she is actually the manager when she dropped by our table to solicit feedback on our dining experience.
By the way, drinks are free flow and besides plain water, you have selections like coca cola, sprite, iced lemon tea, sarsi, fanta grape and juscool sparkling apple!
As expected, we were already clueless right after the manager was done with the introductory session and had to seek her help to concoct the tteokbokki sauce.
The saucepan-like ladle (actually more like the measuring cup we use for baking) was actually very precise and aligned with the recommended recipes to give you one full cup sufficient enough for the tteokbokki pot.
Let's start with the deep fried food first since my tummy couldn't wait any longer; the dumplings were good, chicken was unimpressive and the rest were okay except for the sweet potato which was, well, sweet!
Had a skewer of Korean fish cake - it was as delicious as i remember although my friend forgot to put in the soup which was unforgettable memory i had in Korea.
Finally, it's time for tteokbokki and you may refer to your individual place-mat on the instructions; start with the base soup, indicate the highest level for the induction cooktop and wait for it to boil!
Mix in the specially concocted tteokbokki sauce and bring it to boil.
Get ready your pot of uncooked ingredients and throw them in! To prevent chaota (burnt) at the bottom of the pot, do remember to lower down the induction's indicator.
Voila - time to indulge! We opted for the non spicy sauce although i can still taste a tinge of spiciness. Oh well, didn't quite bother me and i am just happy to eat a lifetime worth of quality tteokbokki.
It's interesting to try the different types of Korea-imported tteokbokki and i am totally taken by the ones which were cottony soft and didn't stick to my teeth. Another favourite was the above; with the appearance of mini-hotdog, i was surprised to find that the tteokbokki sauce has a sweet potato filling!
This time round, we opted for the slightly spicy tteokbokki sauce and i must admit it tasted even better with a shiokness that totally excites the taste buds! It's a pity we didn't have sufficient stomach for a third round with an even spicier sauce!
Another round of fish cake skewers; this time with soup. Strangely, it didn't taste as good and i think it was because i forgot to follow the instructions to add in soy and tteokbokki sauces. :(
Our second meal - the fried rice. I am amazed that i could still ingest additional carbohydrates when i already had so much! And to think that i seldom have rice / noodles / bread for dinner.....
Given our clueless-ness again, we requested help from a young staff member who assisted us to get the necessary ingredients, scoop up the excess tteokbokki sauce and fry everything up so expertly!
And you know what; it was a damn good portion of fried rice; like a super delicious bibimbap without any meat and a nice, yummy conclusion to the end of our Tteokbokki buffet.
It was a one-of-a-kind dining experience and i believe my mom and younger sister would enjoy this Tteokbokki buffet; shall bring them along and try the spicier Tteokbokki sauce next time! Joyce would not be able to join us as she is still maintaining a strict no-carb, ultra low-carb diet. Poor her (cannot join us mah), poor me (would eat too much carbo).
3, Temasek Boulevard,
B1-107, Suntec City Mall,
Adult - S$18.80
Child - S$10.80
(Subject to GST and Service Charge)
Service was great and my friend noticed that water was even served to those who were queuing outside.
On whether the meal is authentically Korean - there were groups of Koreans dining near us and Dookki is a well established brand in South Korea with over 100 branches!