Korean Food Review: Pocha 88 opens at 26A Lor Mambong, Holland Village, Singapore 277685

Pocha 88 is a new Korean gastrobar at Holland Village that serves typical Korean street-side snacks and drinks. I was recently invited to try it out and I'm so glad I did because I've been having Korean food cravings due to watching K-Drama shows! My friend even sent me an episode of Jinny's Kitchen (it's a reality tv show where a bunch of Korean celebs including Tae from BTS went to Mexico to set up a K-bistro) to prep ourselves for the meal. I was READY by the time we got to Holland V via circle line (the place is diagonally opposite Wala's). 

In case you are wondering, the name pocha is short for pojangmacha (포장마차), which means "covered wagon" and refers to a street food vendor, most commonly setting up red tents for people to grab a quick bite and drink at night. At Pocha 88, we were welcomed by an air-man enthusiastically waving his arm to get us to walk in, and a giant Jinro frog. 

The alfresco seating comprises of plastic stools and foldable tables with melamine tableware, to give off the pocha vibes. Actually Singapore's weather is just a TAD warm for alfresco dining even at night though, but at least there's a fan for ventilation. 

Here's the menu. TBH me and my friend both found the pricing to be a bit odd. They grouped the dishes into 5 different price points, starting from $8.88, $11.88, $15.88, $18.88 and lastly $28.88. But for example, the LA Galbi (beef ribs, 8 pieces) is in the $18.88 category and seems super value-for-money. It is also in the same category as the Oden Soup, which at close to $19 seems too high. The soup is however served in a makgeoli pot, which is IG-friendly I guess. We had to choose one, so we picked the LA Galbi because value over looks any day! 

To complement the dishes, we also got Terra beer and Jinro soju, a popular way to mix and drink them in Korea. The sweeter than usual beer was quite refreshing and complemented the dishes and our weather well. The Sausage Gimbap (S$11.88) also came quickly, but unfortunately was a letdown. It consisted of a huge ass and tough sausage rolled in rice and seaweed, but we felt that the entire thing was a bit bland and the rice was also not dry nor fragrant enough. 2/5

It took a while, but the Gimmari (S$8.88), which consisted of four pieces, arrived next. It is a Korean deep-fried seaweed roll stuffed with glass noodles and one of the best ways to enjoy it was to dip it in the tteokbokki sauce. It was tasty but a bit pricey for only four pieces. 3/5. 

The Tteokbokki (S$11.88) was the best dish of the night for both of us. The dish consisted of chewy rice cakes in a sweet and spicy sauce that was both savoury and addictive. 5/5

The Kimchi pancake (S$15.88) had a nice crunch but it was a bit too thick and not as spicy as expected. The main critique was the amount of oil that was on the bottom of the pan when we lifted up the pancake, which could have been easily prevented if the pancake was put on a rack or paper towel. 3/5

The Tuna Cheese King Egg Roll (S$15.88) was interesting, but the combination of tuna, cheese, and egg did not quite work for me because it literally felt like I was eating a homemade breakfast, especially because the tuna was also not seasoned and VERY plain. So the only flavour came from the ketchup on top of the egg, and I don't think it justifies the $16 price tag. 2.5/5.

The LA Galbi Beef Ribs (S$18.88 for 8 pieces) were a bit tough but flavourful. The marinate was on point and I wished it came sizzling hot. Fun fact, I learned from watching a YouTube video that the LA in the name of the dish is not referring to Los Angeles like I always thought, but the LAteral cut of the beef. We couldn't finish it but packed it back. 3.5/5. 

The Red Bean Bingsu (S$12.88), a shaved ice dessert with red beans, was easily the worst dish of the night. Perhaps they were out of the ingredients to make it a proper bingsu with the Melona ice cream that I saw on some other people's photos. My main gripe for this dessert was it CANNOT be called a bingsu if the ice is that chunky and had canned fruit in it. The fruit loop cereal and chocolate sauce was nice but everything just felt disparate. 1/5

Dessert aside, Pocha 88 is a decent spot for casual dining with its typical Korean street-side snacks and drinks. The highlights were definitely the Tteokbokki and LA Galbi Beef Ribs. The prices are a bit high, but it's worth trying if you're craving Korean street food.

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Pocha 88
26A Lor Mambong, Holland Village, Singapore 277685
Mondays to Thursdays 11:30 am–3 pm, 5:30 pm–12 am
Fridays to Sundays 11:30 am to 12am
Reservations 6235 9950 or visit DM on IG or Facebook Page

Thanks Pocha 88 and Christine for the invite!

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