Review: Second time’s the charm for Um Yong Baek’s new Far East Square outlet

By Sarah Chua January 19, 2024
Review: Second time’s the charm for Um Yong Baek’s new Far East Square outlet
Photos: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

It’s been a while since Um Yong Baek last popped up on our radar. 

Though its first outlet opened on 27 Boon Tat Street more than a year ago, Korean restaurant Um Yong Baek is still seeing a constant stream of queues on both its reservation system and in-person. 

I first reviewed the restaurant’s original outlet in its opening days as it was one of the few places in Singapore at that time that specialised in dwaeji gukbab (pork and rice soup).

Perhaps it was the hype — or perhaps it was initial teething issues — the food was good but the experience on a whole left much to be desired, which explains why I haven’t been back since. 

But with a newly opened second outlet (just a stone’s throw away from its first) at 80 Telok Ayer Street and more reservation slots available online, I was determined to give my previous lukewarm experience a do-over.

And thankfully Um Yong Baek’s Far East Square outlet delivered this time, on most fronts. 

The backstory

um yong baek far east square telok ayer
Um Yong Baek’s Far East Square outlet is located along the complex’s periphery. Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

For those not in the know, Um Yong Baek is a dwaeji gukbab restaurant that originated in Busan, Korea, and later on opened outlets in its capital city, Seoul. Dwaeji gukbab is also a Busan specialty.

When Um Yong Baek first opened in Singapore in July 2022, it sold limited bowls of this Busan favourite daily, and only at lunch.

Beyond dwaeji gukbab, Um Yong Baek’s Singapore outpost has also taken the liberty of introducing a Korean barbecue-centric dinner menu. 

Its new Far East Square outlet serves the same menu as its original Boon Tat street outlet — pork and rice soup for lunch, Korean barbecue for dinner. 

Our verdict

Having had their lunch menu on my previous visit, I opted to give its dinner menu a go this time.

Making a reservation was extremely straightforward on its online portal, though available dates were one to two weeks out, depending on your outlet of choice. (It seems like its OG Boon Tat Street outlet still gets most of the crowd, so head to the Far East Square one if you’re looking for an earlier date.)

We settled for an early dinner time of 5.30pm and were glad that we did. 

When we stepped into the restaurant, every table was already set up, ready for the influx of the dinner crowd and there were plenty of wait staff on standby — signs which boded well for our dinner ahead. 

um yong baek far east square telok ayer
For a newly opened outlet, the 5.30pm dinner slot was thankfully calm. Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGowhere

What it’s good for 

We ordered a portion each of the tongmoksal jumeokgogi (pork collar, S$28) and ohgyeopsal (pork belly with skin, S$27). For a dining party of two, we were required to order at least one portion of meat per diner.

um yong baek far east square telok ayer
Pork collar. Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

According to Um Yong Baek, its pork is served up Jeju-style, with “three-way aging”, which ensures that the meat stays juicy and tender. The meat also arrives at your table already partially cooked — having undergone a sous vide process and light charcoal grilling in the kitchen beforehand. 

um yong baek far east square telok ayer
Pork belly, served on the same dish. Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

At first glance, I was a little surprised at how two portions of meat (priced at nearly S$30 each) fit snugly into a small round plate. Granted, the portions of meat were extremely thick. 

Surprisingly, when the wait staff grilled the pork for us and cut them into smaller, bite-sized portions, we found the served portions just right for the two of us.

My favourite among the two meat dishes was the pork belly. Though it was served with skin on, it wasn’t the least bit chewy and was sufficiently soft, with a light sweetness, likely due to the aging processes it was subjected to. 

um yong baek far east square telok ayer
Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

The pork collar was decent, but some bits bordered on being too tough, probably a result of the portions being cut too small or being left on the grill a tad too long. 

Interestingly, the pork collar in our tongdaeji kimchi jjim (braised kimchi with pork collar, S$28) was way softer and even had a slight melt-in-your mouth texture.

um yong baek far east square telok ayer
Braised kimchi with pork collar. Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

My only gripe was that its flavour profile and consistency seemed more like a stew (or kimchi chiggae) rather than a kimchi jjim. The latter is usually more robust but Um Yong Baek’s rendition felt slightly watered down for a jjim dish. 

Nonetheless, it was adequately seasoned, satisfying and goes well with the heavier-tasting meats. 

um yong baek far east square telok ayer
Meoljorim or sauce with anchovies. Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

The complimentary meoljorim (Jeju-style sauce with fresh anchovies, S$7), which comes free when you order at least two portions of meat, was the unexpected star of the evening.

The sauce was equal parts sweet and savoury, with zero fishiness. The anchovies, too, were fresh and meaty. Even though it was meant to be paired with the meat, we enjoyed it with just some white rice, too. 

Service-wise, the wait staff assigned to our table was highly attentive and was able to run us through the various side dishes at our table, such as the unique barley makjang (soybean paste with barely) and how to consume them with the meats. 

um yong baek far east square telok ayer
Some of the sides and sauces included barley makjang, on top of the usual lettuce and ssamjang (spicy dipping sauce). Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

What it could improve on

It seems like Um Yong Baek has taken the learnings from its first outlet seriously and implemented them seamlessly into its second. Across the service, space and food, there was little to nitpick on. 

Expectedly, as a popular outlet, it still has a dining limit (of two hours) and we were given heads up of this 15 minutes before we needed to vacate. 

If there’s anything I hope it would implement as it continues to run, it would be to allow for takeaways. 

We had close to half of our kimchi jjim left by the end of the meal and asked if we could take it away, but were unfortunately told that the restaurant doesn’t have takeout boxes. 

I later realised that Um Yong Baek does mention on its website that its items are not available for take out. 

While this lack of takeout service doesn’t take anything away (pun intended) from our overall dining experience, allowing for takeaways of excess food would help diners reduce food wastage, especially since the restaurant does impose minimum order amounts. 

Our quick takes 

Is it conducive to conversation? One hundred percent — my dining companion and I were able to have a lengthy catch-up over dinner while the waiter did the grilling and portioning of meats and soup. 

Is a reservation necessary? Yes, but you can only make reservations for dinner. For its lunch  sitting, you can queue virtually through its online queueing system on the day itself. 

How to get there? It’s a two-minute walk from Telok Ayer MRT’s exit B. Do take note that this outlet is located on the periphery of Far East Square, along Telok Ayer Street. Its first outlet is also located within Telok Ayer, but lies along Boon Tat street instead — make sure you head to the right restaurant! 

HungryGoWhere paid for its meal at this restaurant for this review.

Keen for more Korean new eats? Check out Sotpot at Suntec City for hearty Korean rice pots and Eat Pizza at PLQ Mall, a local offshoot of Korea’s largest pizza chain. 

Do explore the new GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals. 

You can also book a ride to Um Yong Baek at Far East Square.

Um Yong Baek (Far East Square)

80 – 82 Telok Ayer Street
Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer
Open: Monday to Saturday (11am to 3.30pm, 5.30pm to 10pm)

80 – 82 Telok Ayer Street
Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer
Open: Monday to Saturday (11am to 3.30pm, 5.30pm to 10pm)

Sarah Chua-HungryGoWhere

Sarah Chua


Sarah is constantly seeking out new coffee spots and cocktail bars around the world, and should probably drink more water while at it.

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