Oh My Oppa!

SLICE OF LIFE By Ching M. Alano


Your new oppa: George Pua brings authentic Korean dining to Shangri-La Mall in Mandaluyong with the opening of the third branch of his Oppa! Chicken restaurant.  Photos by Jesse Bustos

Annyeong-haseyo! Hello! Who isn’t familiar with that cheerful Korean greeting? Now, here’s another (probably) familiar Korean word: Oppa. If you’re a Korean female and you have an older brother, you’d call him your oppa. It could also be a term of endearment used by a Korean female to refer to her beloved man, as you’ve probably come across in soupy Korean telenovelas.

Your big brother or lover

Whether he’s your big brother or lover, your oppa will simply love the Oppa! Chicken that recently opened its third branch, located at the 6th floor of Shangri-La Plaza Mall on EDSA. Why? Because it’s very, very good!

But if you haven’t tried it, you’ll very, very likely fall in love with it at first bite!  Like George Pua, the dynamic restaurateur behind this very, very good Korean chicken concept, did.

A certified chicken lover, George often travels to Korea and eats his way through the heart (or is it the belly?) of  the famous chicken places there. Like a smitten lover, George just couldn’t part with his chicken and swore that one day, he’d bring it home with him.

That one day came sooner than expected.

“When I taste something good, I just have to share it with the dining public,” George confesses.

“There are so many brands of chicken in Korea,” he adds. “But there’s one that I really like, that supplies all the top Korean fried chicken stores. Luckily, we found the supplier. And they make exclusively for our Oppa restaurant. All our formulations and marinations (which are all trade secrets) come straight from this factory.”

So good with soju!

George initially tried 12 flavors (Gangnam style, remember Psy?) of this versatile dish. And did he have a mouthful to say of each of them! There are different flavors for all the different Korean stores. Over platters of chicken with matching soju, they presented to George the best of their bestsellers — the no. 1 flavor in  each of these Korean stores. His instant, irrevocable verdict? “They were all very, very good!”

“It’s our very own local concept, but except for the chicken, everything is imported from Korea,” George discloses.

It took two years to perfect the chicken flavors (Oppa is initially bringing in eight). George had to tweak it a little to suit the Pinoy palate that’s averse to too much spice. The taste profile is Korean but suited to Filipino taste. On the other hand, for the brave-hearted, you need not hold back on the hot stuff and set your tongue — and heart — on fire! Yes, Oppa has developed its own secret hot sauce.

Oppa goes to Shang

Oppa first opened at The Shoppes at Portico in Pasig. Its popularity spread by word of mouth (contented mouths, of course!) that soon, it opened a second branch at The Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. And now, the chicken-crazy will be happy to know it recently opened at the 6th floor of Shangri-La Plaza’s main wing in Mandaluyong. Just look for Oppa’s cheery red chicken logo with the hot teaser “It’s very, very good!”

“Actually, somebody who always passes by Oppa saw the sign and was drawn to try it,” George relates. “He thought it was so presumptuous, so he went in. He tried our Oppa chicken and was hooked forever!”

A visibly proud George adds, “We are very, very choosy when it comes to taste in all our restaurants.” Fact is, Oppa chicken is so full of flavor you don’t need to reach out for gravy. Even the kids, who come with their parents especially on weekends, love the taste.

Trust Korean chef Kim to come up with only very, very good dishes from the Oppa kitchen.

The Toppoki is tops

Even its Korean customers are saying Oppa’s got the best toppoki in town. Toppoki is a Korean street food fave topped with gobs of sticky cheese — Korea’s version of mac and cheese with a dash of spice.

Prepare to dazzle your taste buds with an assortment of flavors and aromas. The padak surely rocks — a crispy chicken breast salad topped with a bed of green onion leeks and tangy mustard sauce.

Oppa puts a spin on the salted egg craze with its salted egg chicken with rice cake.

I just love the cheese fondue platter (a combo of glazed chicken fingers and barbecue ribs dipped in creamy cheese sauce) as much as I love cheesy Korean dramas.

For a healthy alternative to fried chicken, try the crispy baked chicken with a mild spicy rub. Or the oven-roasted (but moist and juicy inside) chicken.

You might also want to try the popular Korean fried chicken sauce, ganjang, that adds flavor to the soy garlic chicken and sweet and spicy chicken.

Oppa drops the bomb with its bulsazo, the ultimate spice bomb chicken breast chunks coated in the spiciest bulsazo sauce. Warning: This is not for the faint of heart.

Okay, let’s cool it off a bit with golbange, a top shell cold pasta salad that’s mildly spicy and entirely refreshing.

And let it snow, let it snow with the Snowing Cheese, double-fried chicken with crackling skin, drizzled with cheese powder.

“Aside from being authentically Korean, our price points are very, very competitive,” George stresses. “We offer the cheapest meal in this area of the Shang Mall. For sharing, our 16-piece chicken is only P700, which is good for four persons. Our meal comes up to only P175 for four pieces of chicken. But ordinarily, you would consume only two pieces.”

The cozy, picture-pretty restaurant can seat 80 inside and 20 more outside. There’s enough space to hold birthday parties or meetings.

Perhaps just like your beloved oppa, there’s so much to love about Korean food at Oppa! Chicken.



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Oppa Chicken’s newest store is located at the 6th floor, Shangri-La Plaza main wing, Mandaluyong City with telephone numbers 470-0333, 470-6919, 636-5382, and mobile 0917-8147648.

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