SINGAPORE - As anticipation for the historic summit on June 12 between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore grows, it is time to whet your appetite for Korean-American fusion cuisine.
Such food is not just found in the United States or in South Korea, but in Singapore as well, with a few new brands that opened recently.
Korean-Mexican food, for example, is no stranger to the scene here. It came about with the cultural overlap in Koreatown, a district in Central Los Angeles, where Korean-Americans and Hispanics live side by side. Those that serve Korean-Mexican food were inspired by the massive success of Korean-American chefs such as Roy Choi, who started the fleet of Kogi Korean BBQ taco trucks in Los Angeles in 2008.
Here are five places to check out in Singapore for your Korean fusion fix.
1. NY NIGHT MARKET
What: A Korean fusion restaurant at Westgate mall, inspired by the cosmopolitan food markets in New York City.
Besides Korean fusion, diners can also chow down on Tex-Mex and Vietnamese food.
Menu items include Rosti & Beef ($10.90), with pan-fried rosti topped with beef bulgogi; and Party In New York ($30.90), a surf and turf platter with prawns, fried chicken tenders, grilled sausage, pineapple, corn, crinkle-cut fries and garlic bread sticks.
A Korean-Italian dish - Pasta de Dakgalbi ($16.90) - features spaghetti and dakgalbi (Korean spicy stir-fried chicken) coated in melted mozzarella.
Where: 01-08 Westgate, 3 Gateway Drive
Open: 11am to 10pm (weekdays), 11am to 11pm (weekends)
2. VATOS URBAN TACOS
What: Vatos Urban Tacos originates from Seoul, and it is best known for its Korean-Mexican cuisine, especially its tacos.
Highlights include Korean pork belly tacos ($10 or $14); galbi short rib tacos ($12 or $17); kimchi pork quesadillas ($18); and kimchi carnitas fries ($16), which are seasoned French fries covered with braised pork carnitas, sauteed kimchi, melted cheese, and topped with sour cream, hot sauce, coriander leaves and onions.
For drinks, Vatos offers makgeolitas ($26), where tequila meets makgeolli (Korean rice wine) in a selection of flavours - passionfruit, peach, and mango.
Where: 36 Beach Road
Open: 5.30 to 11pm (Mondays), noon to 11pm (Sundays, Tuesdays to Thursdays), noon to midnight (Fridays and Saturdays)
Info: Call 6385-6010 or go to www.facebook.com/vatossg
3. WOLF BURGERS
What: The local burger restaurant offers a Pork Gochujang Burger ($9.90), a Korea-inspired pork patty with kimchi and cucumbers, topped with spicy gochujang sauce. Pair it with kimchi cheese fries ($8).
Where: Wolf Burgers outlets at PasarBella, Suntec City Tower 2, 3 Temasek Boulevard; and 01-43 Changi City Point, 5 Changi Business Park Central 1
Open: PasarBella: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily; Changi City Point: 8.30am to 9.30pm (weekdays), 11.30am to 9.30pm (weekends)
What: After the success of Korean fried chicken brand Bonchon in South Korea in 2002, it opened its first overseas location in 2006, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Soon after, Bonchon entered New York City and opened its flagship restaurant in the heart of Manhattan. It opened in Singapore in 2011, and currently has four outlets.
Besides its signature fried chicken (from $8.90), the menu also offers bibimbap (from $14.90), spicy ramyeon (from $9.90), and soju cocktails ($12.50).
Where: Bonchon outlets at Northpoint City, Boat Quay, Compass One and Bugis+
Info: Go to bonchon.sg for full list of opening hours
5. PIZZA MARU
What: Korean pizza chain Pizza Maru, which has more than 650 outlets in South Korea, the United States, and China, opened in Singapore at the end of last year (2017).
Highlights in the Premium Pizza range include the Korean Surf 'n' Turf (from $19.80), a blend of East-meets-West flavours boasting Korean-style beef and shrimps atop a bed of greens lined with sweet ranch sauce accompanied by sour cream and mozzarella cheese; and Mango Ocean (from $19.80) comprises mango chunks, with shrimps and scallops on the crispy bread base.
The fruity seafood combination is matched by fiery hot spicy buldak and a spread of mozzarella cheese and pilaf sauce.
Another must-try is the Real BBQ Chicago Pizza, made with fibre-packed black rice dough and stuffed with creamy double mozzarella cheese, string cheese and cream cheese mousse and served with chicken leg bits.
Where: Pizza Maru outlets at B1-192/193 Northpoint City, 1 Northpoint Drive; 04-03/04 Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street
Open: 11.30am to 10pm daily (both outlets)