We so badly wanted to like Woori-Nara. After all, it’s quite a trek out to farthest Bukit Timah. More than that, though, we love eating in ethnic enclaves; all the more so when they’re not especially well-known. Little Lorong Kilat is home to another Korean restaurant (the frankly far more impressive Kim’s Family Restaurant), a Korean grocery store and the J.H. Kim Taekwondo institute—giving the street more than a little Seoul.
It’s a popular residential district with expat Koreans, who pack Woori-Nara till well past closing time. The house specialty is fried chicken, done all kinds of ways (the house boast is that they only use canola oil; meaning you can indulge without feeling too guilty). We opted for the sampler, three boneless wings in each of three different flavors—original (or mild); yum yum (somewhat sweet); and soy garlic. Only the soy garlic impressed in its crumbly lightness, with the others just far too bland. We turned up the heat with the volcano wings, only to find all flavor had been torched. In fact, we had better luck away from the wings. The dolsot bibimbap might have been a little bit too crispy (although, between us, isn’t the blackened, burnt rice the best bit?) but it was certainly full of flavor. Sadly, the sharpness of the kimchi we enjoyed as an appetizer (alongside picked radish with an almost fizzy pop to it) was lost when smothered in bubbling sauce in the la tofu; so we went looking for something simpler.
We found it by ordering a couple more rounds of ice-cold Hite beer (complete with handy temperature gauge on the label) and topping up our glasses of baekseju, the eucalyptus-flavored rice wine everyone else was drinking. Perhaps that’s how best to enjoy a place like this—focus less on the food and more on its merits as a real community haunt, with cheap drinks thrown in for good measure.
If you’re in the area, why not try one of these great restaurants in Bukit Timah?