Hwang Sil has been serving Korean Chinese food here at Airview Building since 2016. The new owners took over and renovated the previous Jung Hwa Gak but continued to serve Korean-Chinese food.
Korean-Chinese cuisine was introduced to Korea during the 19th century in the port city of Incheon, where most of the ethnic Chinese population of Korea lived. The 3 dishes that characterises Korean-Chinese cuisine include
- Jjajangmyeon 자장면 – noodle dish topped with thick black bean sauce with origins from the Chinese’s Zhajiangmian 炸酱面;
- Jjamppong 짬뽕 which is a spicy noodle soup flavored with vegetables, meat or seafood; and
- Tangsuyuk 탕수육 – a Korean version of the sweet and sour meat dish 糖醋肉.
Hwang Sil Korean-Chinese Restaurant is owned by a lovely Korean couple who pride their cooking on authenticity and earnest intention of sharing this unique fusion cuisine with Singaporeans.
Baby Octopus With Pork Belly 쭈꾸미 삼겹살 Saeutwigimjjukkumi Samgyeobsal
March to May is when jjukkumi 쭈꾸미 (webfoot octopus) is in season. It puts on weight as it approaches spawning season and is tastier than during the rest of the year. Often compared to a small octopus because of their similar appearances, jjukkumi has shorter legs and a bigger body, two or three times larger than that of a small octopus. The last time I had this was in Zibo when I tasted pregnant jjukkumi.
Stir-frying jjukkumi with samgyeobsal 삼겹살 (pork belly) enhanced the flavours of this dish, as the pork’s fat mixed with the marinade and jjukkumi. This was done at table side like a mookata. Delicious dish that I would add to my list of to-try in Korea.
Sweet & Sour Pork 탕수육 Tangsuyuk
A must-order dish is the tangsuyuk 탕수육 sweet & sour pork. What sets this version apart from the more well-known Chinese one is that the sauce is served separately and is thicker, more savoury and less acidic. The pork was crunchy, juicy, tender and the sauce was addictive.
Unlike the Chinese koloyuk 咕咾肉 which comes as a bite sized chunk, the Korean tangsuyuk comes in thin strips of meat. The Chinese usually incorporates their koloyuk with the sweet and sour sauce whereas the Koreans plates the sauce separately to be used as a dip or drizzled upon being served.
Sweet & Sour Chicken 치킨 탕수육 Chikin Tangsuyuk
This is a variation of the pork tangsuyuk with chicken instead. The dipping sauce was the same. The chicken was juicy and crispy, and fortunately, not too oily. The batter had a good crunch that was not too thick either,.
Every Korean family has their own mandu 만두 (dumpling) recipe, just like they have their own kimchi recipe. Mandu 饅頭 is cognate with the names of similar types of meat-filled dumplings along the Silk Road in Central Asia, and same as Jiaozi 餃子 which is cognate to Japanese gyoza although now in China mantou is a bun without filling.
Their mandu is filled with ground pork, cabbage, chives, and ginger. I preferred them boiled but only the deep fried ones were available that day.
Eight-Treasure Vegetables 팔보채 Palbochae
Eight types of ingredients were used in this stir-fry which is known in Chinese as Zacai 雜菜, although japchae in Korean meant another dish. This is not a vegetarian dish though, it has shrimps and sea cucumber in the mix as well as baby corn, button mushroom, cap mushroom, broccoli, Shanghai green and water chestnuts. Very homely and simple dish.
Deep Fried Prawn 새우튀김 Saeutwigim
This is the Korean shrimp tempura – but it turned out to be something that my mom would do at home too. The dip is a sweet and sour ketchup based sauce – not interesting.
Their jjajangmyeon was a signature item that people come specially for. The jjajang was not too sweet, and the onion and pork were not diced into too small pieces.
I absolutely loved the texture of noodles in this jjajangmyeon. The noodles were both chewy and bouncy enough, yet still soft to the bite at the same time. All the noodles are hand-made daily, and any leftovers are actually thrown out because keeping it overnight would result in a totally different texture and taste.
Be warned – the portion is really big, enough to be shared by two if there are other things you are ordering.
The Jjambbong (spicy seafood noodle soup) came in a soup that was as red as sup tulang but it was not as spicy as it looked. The dish was like a fresh bowl of Korean kimchi instant noodle, but with an upgraded noodle and seafood in the soup that interestingly had a bit of wokhei. I realised that I over-ordered for lunch and it’s a shame that so much leftover hand-made noodles was thrown away.
Korean Seafood Kimchi Pan Cake 해물김치전 Haemulgimchijeon
Supposed to be the first dish, but the panjeon came last. I am sure it was delicious, we packed it away as we were all stuffed by the time this arrived.
A hidden gem along Maxwell Road, Hwang Sil serves a cuisine that is familiar and yet Korean at heart. While everything can be traced back to a Chinese origin, the food has evolved to suit Korean palates over the years. The portions were generous, the cooking was solid, and the service was multi-national.
Another box ticked along Peck Seah Street, there’s only one left along this stretch of pre-war shophouses. Will definitely come back for their noodles, they were amazing!
Hwang Sil Korean Chinese Restaurant
38 Maxwell Road #01-05, Singapore 069116
Tel : +65 6224 4371
Visited Apr 2023