Taft Avenue in Manila is filled with food stalls and restaurants that cater mostly to students and thus offer items that are budget-friendly. Walk every five feet and literally you’ll wind up in a great dining spot. Walk some more and you’ll find Fantastic Chef in Leon Guinto Street. A sister company of Fantastic Baka, Fantastic Chef Taft is a swish restaurant that’s perfect for giving friends an intro to the joys of unlimited samgyupsal and savory banchan. Check it out.
Review of Fantastic Chef Taft (Leon Guinto, Manila)
Fantastic Chef Taft is one of the newest entrants to the Korean bbq craze in the metro. The restaurant is bright and spacious, and the earthy tiles making up a rustic backsplash look chic and attractive. Orange chairs and yellow accents on the sides of the table are a nice change of pace as pop of colors in the seemingly mundane setup. All tables are equipped with a grill stove and a hanging induction equipment to take care of proper ventilation and make sure you don’t smell of smoke after a few rounds of sizzling meat. K-POP songs played on the background, which made the ambiance feel more Korean.
Haven’t tried Korean grilled bbq before? You can’t go wrong with pork, chicken, or beef cooked on the tabletop grill at Fantastic Chef Taft, where quality cuts of top-notch marinades and a good variety of sides combine into a memorable meal.
Food is prepared by Chef Jang Jungyun, a 3-star Michelin awardee and one of Korea’s A-list chefs, the same chef responsible for the food in Fantastic Baka. With this, you can order with confidence and choose from different cuts of meat, ranging from your usual suspects like pork belly and spicy pork bulgogi to some less routine stuff such as jowls and skirt meat. When in doubt, come with your friends or family so you can order and share everything, like we did. 🙂
We started lunch with steamed egg which was fluffy and light. Then we had kimchi, japchae, cabbage salad, fish cake and soup as appetizers and enjoyed them as well with meat. For mains, we got one serving each of skirt meat, seasoned pork neck, cheek, rack, pork belly, spicy pork bulgogi, jowls meat, thin pork belly, spicy chicken bbq, seasoned chicken bbq, and beef plate.
Like in any Korean bbq place, you don’t need to be a master chef to cook. My husband did most of the cooking and cut the meat with scissors to serve. We were pretty satisfied with the tender and tasty pieces of meat that came out with beautiful char. Meat with a hint of smoky notes and those marinated with sweet and spice stood out most for me. 🙂
In the interest of doing Korean bbq right and getting the most out of your meal, here are some tips to consider:
- Eat Korean bbq with banchan. When cooking, place meat on the center of the grill plate for about two minutes on each side. While waiting, dive into your banchan and feel free to snag pieces of meat to eat right off the grill.
- Banchan is not merely an appetizer. These side dishes are usually served at the start of the meal, but they’re meant to be sampled all throughout, as they typically have acid and vinegar. Try it and you’ll appreciate when the acid cuts through all the rich flavor and fats of meat. For the ultimate flavor rapture, eat kimchi with pork belly in a single bite. Be adventurous!
- Balance meat with some veggies (and maybe rice). Take some lettuce and aim to make each wrap a two-bite affair, not an overstuffed burrito. Wrapping meat in lettuce with rice and kimchi also wouldn’t hurt.
- Order enough for the first round before asking for another. Don’t worry if you’re confused on which and how much meat to order. Unlike at a steakhouse where you might order an 8-oz steak for yourself, here you’re ordering for the group. The portion per course is enough for 1-2 people to share, so if you think you can’t finish all, take your time and don’t hoard food quickly. Later you can decide which item you would want seconds of. Fantastic Chef Taft charges PhP 200 if you have leftovers. So love food, don’t waste!
- Ask for a new grill if you need one. In Fantastic Chef, the server swapped out the grill for us as it looked burned.
- Dip grilled meat into the special melted cheese. If you love cheese, you’ll be happy to savor the best ever cheesy samgyupsal with special melted cheese dip.
📢 To wash all food down, take advantage of their promotion until May 18, 2019: buy 1 fruit soju worth PhP 280 and get 1 free soju fresh. To catch all the latest offers and discounts, follow Fantastic Chef Taft on Instagram and Facebook.
Price for Value:
Craving for samgyupsal? Fantastic Chef Taft can be your next regular stop. It’s reliable for platters and platters of meat and all the good stuff. The good news? There’s no time limit!
At PhP 499, you get unlimited orders of skirt meat, seasoned pork neck, cheek, rack, pork belly, spicy pork bulgogi, jowls meat, thin pork belly, spicy chicken bbq, and seasoned chicken bbq. Just add PhP 50 and take beef plate and seasoned beef plate to match your appetite. Overall, we’re pleased with the quality of food and the reasonable and affordable price. Fantastic Chef Taft is a must-try foodie destination and it’s certainly worth a shot! 🙂