So I have been hearing good things about ANJU, a contemporary Korean restaurant at Tanjong Pagar from my Korean friends and community. Anju or 안주 is a Korean term that describes dishes consumed with alcohol. The restaurant focuses on modern Korean Anjus that is paired with its exquisite drinks, directly curated and sourced from South Korea.
As with most popular restaurants in Singapore, the waiting list to dine at ANJU was long. It is really difficult to get a table during normal dining hours (ie, weekdays after working hours, or weekend meal time). So I waited for a few months before finally visiting this sophisticated space that serves contemporary Korean cuisine.
It was a weekday at 6 pm. And the establishment was already packed with diners.
I love the interior with a soft and muted colour palette that emphasised clean lines and natural lights. The bronzeware created that chic and luxury atmosphere almost instantly.
We ordered a bottle of Champagne Makgeolli 이화백주 (940ml, $80), a naturally carbonated Makgeolli for the night. It features a fizzy champagne mouthfeel, with a sweet and smooth profile and a tinge of sourness. A milky but refreshing aperitif to whet our appetite. It is also one of the Makgeolli that made it to the Blue House’s curated wine list and is served to its prestigious guests who are visiting the Blue House for dinners.
At ANJU, expect communal dishes with 10/10 aesthetic plating efforts. You get to experience that Korean ritual of uniting with loved ones around the table of elevated and flavourful sharing dishes.
For appetizers, we ordered Bori Prawns 보리 새우 ($10), a deep-fried baby prawn dish seasoned in green garlic shoots and Korean chilli powder. It was an addictive pre-dinner snack that is great to pair with a chilled beer.
Domi 도미($26), a red snapper carpaccio garnished with ANJU’s house ginger dressing, Ssamjang, kombu, arugula leaves and endives. It was a refreshing cold appetizer perfect for the warmer days in Singapore.
If there is one dish you should absolutely order from its hot dishes category, that would be Yangnyeom Cauliflower 양념 컬리플라워 ($22). It was a clever dish marrying the flavour of sinful Korean Yangnyeom fried chicken with healthy cauliflower. The crispiness and nuttiness from the multigrain crumb were a nice touch and I am sure all veggie-haters would enjoy this dish. I wasn’t expecting much from this dish but it is now on my must-order list at ANJU.
We also ordered the Ssambob 쌈밥 ($10) as tummy fillers for the night. Each barley rice roll was lovingly wrapped with savoy cabbage and garnished with ssamjang.
Makgeolli and Korean pancake “Jeon” 전 is a classic pairing in Korean cuisine. Hence we also ordered the Hogam Jeon 호감전 ($26), a pancake dish that is made of Hobak 호박 (zucchini) and Gamja 감자 (potato). We also opted to top the pancake with Mozzarella cheese (+ $3).
However, the dish didn’t turn out as I imagined. While I prefer my pancake to be soft and fluffy on the inside with a perfect crisp on the outside, just like the ones we had at the traditional markets in Korea, the Hogam Jeon was a tad dry and bland. The cheese didn’t do much in sustaining the moisture of the pancake either. That said, you can give the jeon a good dunk in the Korean soy sauce with pickled onion that is served together for a stronger flavour.
Well, I have to admit that I had high expectations of this dish, which probably explains my disappointment. But I don’t think that this is a bad dish, just not the way I like my jeons to be. If you love crispy Korean pancakes, then this would fit your appetite!
The star dish of the night was Galbi Jjim 갈비찜 ($38 per pax, minimum order 2 pax). Each cube of the Korean short rib was perfectly braised to a soft, tender and flavourful bite. The soy sauce wasn’t overly sweet and has that fragrant umami that calls for a bowl of warm and fluffy Korean short-grained rice.
If you are familiar with Korean food culture, you may often come across the expression “Bap-doduk” 밥 도둑, literally translated as “rice thief”, which refers to dishes that boost one’s appetite and increase rice intake. The Galbi Jjim at ANJU is definitely a real Bap-doduk.
We had the Black Sesame Bread 깨찰빵 ($16) as dessert. It is a unique combination of black sesame cream, doenjang ice cream, yuzu meringue and Korean black sesame bread. As I am no stranger to Korean doenjang and doenjang desserts, I find myself enjoying the ice cream and black sesame cream pairing. The Yuzu meringue provided a refreshing touch to the earthy element of this dish too!
The beautiful traditional flavours, outstanding modern execution of the dishes, and unique curation of South Korea’s finest booze are probably the reasons for ANJU’s popularity. While the atmosphere was pleasant, with the hustle and bustle of this popular establishment some guests may get a little loud. That said, I am still looking forward to going back and trying out other dishes at this elegant Korean restaurant.
62 Tras Street, 079001, Singapore
+65 6612 1172
6 PM – 10:30 PM
CLOSED ON SUNDAY & MONDAY