One of my favorite things about Siem Reap is the plethora of really good Korean food. So it was a sad moment for me when one of my previous favorite restaurants closed; always empty, the place served a few things, of which the highlight was jokbal, or braised pig’s trotters. There are no trotters on the menu at Dakida, but the owner has turned the place into a jumping Korean bar and restaurant that has quickly become one of my favorite places in town.
My love affair with Dakida started a few days after they opened, when they were still testing the menu. The owner explained that it’s not a traditional Korean restaurant, but rather, is a restaurant that is meant for drinking, so all of the food goes well with booze. What this means, in practice, is that everything on the menu is calorically rich, in a good way. I describe the place as a restaurant that thinks it’s a bar, and indeed, it’s only open for dinner, the lights are dimmed around 9:30 p.m. and the place stays open until 1 a.m.
The menu is small, but offers an array of delicious Korean dishes, of which the best value is easily the pork BBQ set, called samgyeopsal. The set costs $7 per person and is an all-you-can-eat porkfest, with and endless stream of fatty pork belly grilled at the table next to you, served with saamjang, a salty, delicious soybean paste, and lettuce and perilla leaves to wrap it all up in. The meal includes soup, a steamed egg casserole, spicy vegetable salad, several banchan, or small vegetable side dishes, fresh pickles, vegetable crudites to dip in the saamjang, and of course rice and kimchi.
The quality of every component of this meal is excellent, and outshines all of the other Korean restaurants in town who offer a similar but inferior samgyeopsal set. The most outrageous thing about this is that every plate on the table will be refilled until you ask, no, beg, them to stop. Quite frankly it feels criminal to only pay $7 for this much food, so I would highly recommend drinking a lot to help the poor guy turn a profit. If he doubled the price it would still be good value.
The rest of the menu is more typical bar food. One of my favorites is the giant bowl of fish cake soup, a savory broth filled with various types of fish cakes that are usually sold by street vendors in Korea. Apart from the samgyeopsal, the menu is of this ilk, fast food or snack food, including fried chicken, deep-fried shrimp, a Korean take on ramen, French fries and chicken and pork satay.
In the drinks department, Dakida carries local beer (Angkor) and imported Korean beer (Hite and Max, at the moment), and Korean soju, of which several empty bottles will be found on all of the raucous nearby tables packed with half-drunk Koreans. My favorite of the drinks is the makgeolli, a mysterious looking milky white potion that turns out to be a fermented beer-like drink made from rice. The best part about the makgeolli is that it is served not in glasses but in golden bowls. If that’s not a reason to try it, I don’t know what is.
Dakida has quickly become my favorite Korean restaurant in town, but it’s also a great late-night stop if you’re looking for a snack or trying to avoid seeing anyone you know. The place is popular with the local Korean community, and on weekends, there are always a few tables filled with merrymakers until well after midnight. So head down to Dakida and let me know what you think in the comments section. Do you have any favorite Korean restaurants in town that I should try? (I’m obsessed, obviously).
Open daily, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Oum Khun Street, Siem Reap [map]
T: 017 640 411