Korean Weekend For The First Time in Porto!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Korean food is one of my all time favorite cuisine. When I traveled to Seoul for the first time, I binged on Korean barbecue, bulgogi, japchae and of course, kimchi, lots and lots of kimchi.

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So you can imagine my excitement when one of my good friends, Chef Angelo Reyes who studied at the Alain Ducasse culinary school in Paris, talked to me about the possibility of having a Korean pop up in Porto. He was lucky enough to meet Korean cooking queen Maangchi at a meetup in Paris and he learned some recipes and techniques from her.

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If there's something lacking in Porto, it's the fact that few places serve proper spicy food- something that Asians like me crave for all the time.

Preparing Korean food in Europe can be tricky because there are a lot of ingredients and spices that go into just one dish and they are not always available. Imagine that a typical Korean meal has several side dishes that come with it.

But we took on the challenge and started hunting for these hard to find Korean ingredients in Porto. We promoted Korean weekend through Mana & Manee, the Southeast Asian Kitchen I had just started with my Thai friend Yok. Once launched, we were amazed at how many people were interested in our event.

It was exciting that Portuguese locals and expats alike wanted to try Korean food. We decided on a "classic menu" of beef bulgogi and japchae which came with sprouts and spinach side dishes as well as kimchi. After several taste tests, we decided to lower the spice level a bit just to make sure a lot of people can still try the dishes. As you know, most Europeans are not big fans of spicy food.

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As early as 7PM that Friday, people started to file in. We were expecting to serve a lot of people, we just didn't realized just how many there would be. We also didn't expect that Time Out would feature our event. Groups of friends came and asked questions about the food. Families brought even their grandparents and in laws. We were also amazed at the groups of Koreans who came. It was a meetup of sorts- a coming together of people who were crazy and curious about Korean food.

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In the end, the crowd won. We served over 200 plates and we were just overwhelmed at how so many people came to try something new in Porto. We're sure to have more events of this kind in the future.

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And if you come to Porto, make sure you drop by Mana & Manee at Arca Pub- Rua do General Silveira 23A.

We'd love to go on a food journey with you!

Sole Sister Lois

Special thanks to Chef Angelo Reyes for flying in to Porto and share his knowledge of Korean cuisine, to Arca Pub for being our venue partner and to Duarte Ferreira for sharing his images and feedback.


Lois Yasay Ribeiro is a writer from the Philippines. She is currently based in Porto and starting a Southeast Asian restaurant called Mana & Manee.

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