Inside the corner establishment was a brightly lit bakery/café hybrid. Along the wall was a dwindling assortment of buns and cookies (it was nearing the end of the day after all), while the far end featured delicate cakes in a display case. To the left of the cakes was the cashier and drink preparation area; situated above was the beverage and bingsoo menu. The space was very reminiscent of Paris Baguette, except roomier, devoid of LED screens, and with a commercial bakery setup in the back room.
Similar to the other Korean breads I've tasted in the past - Fauchon, Galleria, and Hodo Kwaja (the hoddeok!) to name a few, the foundation of the bun was stiff and starchy. Cantonese bakeries generally utilize a chewy, eggy base that is far more fragrant, and, after all these years, I've found it difficult to welcome other styles into my diet.
Miss Piggy, which was their house bingsoo concoction of strawberry jam (falsely advertised as "puree") topped with chocolate cookie crumbs and (supposedly) coffee-flavoured biscuits. The bowl further reinforced my dislike for all synthetic things strawberry. On the flip side, the cookie crumble was great: the varying size spectrum contributed texture as well as flavour. The shards dissolved rather rapidly though, which I was not too fond of.
It was interesting how we had waited for upwards of ten minutes for our small-sized Miss Piggy, but those belonging to the aforementioned group received their orders only a few moments after us. There is the possibility that the ice machine had not been calibrated in advance, but ringing up pickup orders instead of booting it up was the wrong method to maximize efficiency.
The self-serve seating area was, thankfully, not as sticky as it could have been. That said, I was far from being the biggest fan of faded, peeling patent leather chairs.
The original plan was to grab Sikgaek to go, but we mutually agreed on dining in given that it was nearing supper time anyway.
A popular spot for traditional Korean cuisine, Sikgaek's Chicken Ginseng Soup did not fail to impress us. Hearty yet soothing, it was ideal for restoring warmth on a chilly winter evening. The whole chicken was impossibly tender, boasting fall-off-the-bone tender flesh, while the glutinous rice and ginkgo nuts offered chewy satisfaction. A lone dried red date provided a jolt of fruitiness in conjunction with anti-inflammatory and blood pressure-regulating properties.
The LA Kalbi - a dish that I tend not to order frequently on the basis that it usually emerges dry - turned out supple and utterly flavourful. Swapping out greasy onions for cabbage slaw was another welcome alternative.
Overall, our orders were exceptional, thus I couldn't resist ordering a second Kimchi BokEumBap to take home. Sikgaek does it again!