Leehak Korean Buffet 

A rainy Friday midmorning after our shift but it was the 28th of December and we've been planning a lunchout for like ages, having it postponed for another week might end it like those plans that only happened in a group chat in FB messenger. So despite the drizzly weather, we gave it a go.

Choosing where to dine was not a difficult discussion. We've been talking it for weeks, to feast on samgyeopsal and other Korean dishes in a buffet setting.

The buffet table at Leehak

So we easily agreed on the most convenient route - Lee Hak Buffet in Kapitolyo, a convenient destination for us since it is closer to Mandaluyong. The girls were so insistent to let me gorge pork! Oh God!

To be very honest, I rarely eat meat, much more pork, so unlike other Pinoy K-pop fans who are crazy about samgyeopsal, bulgogi and, oh kimchi, I dreaded it. But I like oriental dishes and Korean cuisine is one of the most interesting fares in Asia so I relented and agreed with the team.

Our table

Korean buffet is making a wave in the Philippine food landscape recently. Not because it hits K-pop Pinoy fanatics to the core but because it suits well to the Filipino taste and culture of dining - the food feast.

So this concept of buffet ultimately became a game changer in Philippine restaurant industry.

I have never been into a Korean restaurant (though my tastebud is very oriental) until in July this year when I visited Sodam in Greenhills, so the Leehak gourmand trip last Friday was only my second time to take a Korean buffet food adventure.

When we got there, it was only 11:30 in the morning, the lunchtime opening hour of the restaurant, so it was still not crowded. And the dishes were still freshly cooked. My attention was not on the samgyeopsal, however. I was looking for dishes that would not overdo my tummy. But it was mostly meat, meat and meat.

The meat!

I dashed to the other side of the long table to search for other interesting dishes and thanked God there were fish and vegetables (though I could not really recall if I took veges at all haha!). And yes, Maki! I always like Korean fried chicken , very oriental recipe. At Leehak, yes, the version was tasty, sans spicy. I love the breaded fish, the potato salad and the fresh green salad.

Potato salad
Korean-style fried chicken
Korean maki

After taking a frequent trip to the buffet table, piling several plates and wondering what else to hoarde, finally we settled in a rectangular table with a grilling station in the center. Our already crowded table became even more crowded with the sight of raw meats. Oh, meats!

So while my colleagues were enthusiastic with the smell of grilled meats, I was wondering how I would take the pork belly without thinking with those poor pigs being slaughtered elsewhere, just to serve people with this called samgyupsal craze.

Our table packed with Korean dishes 

Samgyeopsal or samgyupsal is a gui or grilled dish in a Korean cuisine, it is literally means, three layer dish, referring to the pork belly cut in three layers. It is widely popular in Korea and now invading the Philippine food industry due to Filipinos going crazy over K-pop stars.

I tried two strips wrapped in lettuce and mixed with kimchi. It was a bit surreal haha! My mind always undergoes some process of revolting each time I consume meat. So after the two strips, I turned my attention to breaded fish and fruits.

Leehak has a wide selection of savory food. Not just samgyeopsal. Spreading into its long table and several food stations are concoctions of Chicken and fish, vegetables, fried rice, salad, greens, the paninis, fresh fruits, processed raw meats like ham, sausages, large cut of meats, are also included. The usual Korean recipes are concocted with a twist that suits Filipino palates. So the the dining experience here is a bit festive.

However, I have noticed that pork belly strips are quite in a large cut compared to the one I have tried months ago. And there was no beef strips selection among the raw meats. Unlike in other Korean buffet setting, at Leehak, the meat strips are not served in racks. There is a separate station for raw meats with an array of sausages and ham.

All time favorite Korean dishes are available here

Leehak food selections are fair, satisfying enough for people who are into normal oriental cuisine. With the exemption of kimchi, other recipes are not overly spicy and stingy which surprised me a bit, since most comfort food of Korean cuisine is a bit chili. 

 I tried this traditional Korean recipe, the fish cake and rice cake combined in a thick sauce and it was tasty and good. If I would make a repeat visit at Leehak, definitely, I will get another bowl of rice cake.

They also served a tinola chicken soup which I like. It pacifies growling tummy and balances the greasy effect of grilled pork belly. If you are into green salad, the fruit and vege station offers a large volume of lettuce! I also love the baby potato salad, something you would not missed if you visit Leehak.

Heavy lunch!

The restaurant atmosphere is a little dim, but I guess this interior atmosphere is a very common theme among oriental restaurants. Earth tone and very rustic but good enough to experience comfort. The area is well ventilated and has an enough exhaust equipment that sucks the smoke from grilling tables.

Comfortable table setter of four in a couch awaits everyone. So you and your companions have a relaxing dining experience while basking at the couch and enjoying a bite of samgyeopsal. Staff also quickly refill the station with additional dishes. So there's no reason to wonder in case empty dish racks are seen in the buffet table.

Overall, Leehak is a good dining place if you like Korean dishes with a Filipino food twist. Tasty, flavorful, luscious and in large amount. You can have a satisfying lunch or dinner while sharing laughter and conversation with colleagues, friends and loved ones.

Buffet table area

Rates per head in Philippine peso. Monday to Thursday lunch time (11:30AM-3:00PM) 359.00, dinner time (6:00-10:00PM) is at 399.00. Friday to Sunday and Holidays lunch time is at 499.00 dinner time at 599.00. Take note: Rates as of 2018 December and might change without prior notice.

Leehak Buffet we visited is at 8006 Pioneer, Kapitolyo, Pasig but very accessible from Boni avenue in Mandaluyong. If you are coming from Robinsons Forum in Boni Ave, you may ride a tricycle to Pioneer Center, travel time is around 10 minutes.

Watch out vlog for this food trip in our youtube channel, 
Click this LINK