Fancy Korean Spicy Garlic Chicken Stew? Spice it up at Kelim Dakdoritang


Dakdoritang, which is Korean spicy chicken stew, is a dish that is not so common in Singapore. Granted, it is a mouthful to pronounce, but what a wonderful and welcome mouthful indeed. Kelim Dakdoritang (‘Kelim’) has just launched its first ever outlet here in the Serangoon Gardens neighbourhood.

One of South Korea’s oldest dakdoritang brands with over 50 restaurants in the country, Kelim offers a dining experience that is unique, unlike other Korean stews and BBQ dishes that we have seen here. 

Founded in the old Jongro district in Seoul in 1965, Kelim is a communal dining experience that is best enjoyed with friends and family, like how you would share a hotpot meal with a like-minded group. The main dish here, Signature Korean Spicy Garlic Chicken Stew is flavourful and spicy to your desired level (you can choose non-spicy and five levels of spiciness). It is prepared according to a time-honoured traditional recipe passed down through generations.

The large pot arrives at your table and bubbles away over the flames, topped with a huge garlic ‘bomb’. That mound of minced garlic breaks away into the broth and flavours every scoop of the soup with its fragrance. There is no escaping it, and in its own way, the garlicky goodness and its intrinsic health benefits make this dish extremely good for us. Without a doubt, in that single meal, the sheer volume of garlic is probably equivalent to the usual amount of garlic some of us would typically consume in a week or even a month.

The signature spicy chicken stew with the garlic bomb on top (small size starts from S$36.90 and can be shared among two or three). Photo © Fen Chia.

For me, the generous serving of garlic is such a hallmark of Kelim’s dakdoritang that it is the star that steals the show and lifts all other ingredients. The other supporting actors? There is the chewy tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes) you are instructed to eat first before it gets soggy; the farm-fresh bone-in chicken pieces in the thick broth made with a secret blend of aromatics; and ingredients such as gochugaru (Korean chili powder), potatoes, king oyster mushrooms and sausages, among others.

One tip: leave the chicken in for a while longer so it cooks to an even tenderness in the stew and absorbs the flavours. Like hotpot-style dining, you can add additional toppings for a fee.

The stew that is ready to eat, with all the ingredients melted down into the broth-including that garlic. Photo © Fen Chia.

One specialty at Kelim is the kalguksu (knife-cut noodles), which you can toss in at the later part of the meal. These are al dente and chewy like our local handmade ban mian, and they stay that way even if you leave them in for a while. At least for now, the kalguksu used here comes from Korea.

Kalguksu, or knife-cut noodles (S$5), can be added to the stew. Photo © Fen Chia.

Nearing the end of the meal, there are theatrics as seen in K-dramas–leave a bit of broth and finish off with Bocumbap (S$8), where the restaurant staff will help you stir fry rice , seaweed and even more garlic (!) to absorb the remaining stew. The carbs, not forgetting the tteokbokki as well, will help ensure this is a meal that will leave you satisfied.

Bocumbap (Korean style fried rice), done at the end with the remaining broth and seaweed. Photo © Fen Chia.

Other parts of the chicken are used to their fullest potential–there is Dakbal (spicy chicken feet) and Dakttongjip (chicken gizzards fried in batter). These go well if you like a drink. Soju, beer and makgeolli are available, together with a free flow of radish kimchi and beansprouts to wash down your meal.

Dakbal, or spicy chicken feet (S$19.90). Photo © Fen Chia.

Dakttongjip, or fried chicken gizzards, with, yes, more garlic (S$15.90). Photo © Fen Chia.

Although the stew is the star, the menu at Kelim is pretty extensive. If it seems challenging to have such a big meal, there are other dishes like chicken noodle soup, shredded chicken cold noodles, marinated chicken with rice. For those who prefer drinks and bar bites, there is a wide range of sides like fried seaweed rolls, cheese balls, fish cakes, dumplings and even sweet pancakes.

Ending off the meal with Hotteok, or pancakes with brown sugar (2 for S$9.90). Photo © Fen Chia.

Find out more at Kelim’s website here.

Kelim Dakdoritang
14B Kensington Park Road
Singapore 557265
Tel: +65 6241 4241

Opening hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm for lunch or 5.30pm to 10pm for dinner.


About Author

When not checking out new hotels or restaurants, Singapore-based writer Fen spends her time reading obsessively about and travelling to destinations with unpronounceable names. She also can't stop getting sentimental about vanishing trades and documenting them for posterity.

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