Cebu’s rise as a culinary destination has created opportunities for locals to get a taste of international cuisines without having to leave the comfort of our tropical island. Korean cuisine, in particular, is something that locals have come to embrace—most of us indulge in some Korean BBQ every once in a while.
CookPub Modern Korean Bistro & Bar seeks to set itself apart from the other Korean restaurants in the city by offering a modern take on Korean cuisine, infusing it with Filipino flavors. At the helm is Chef Alvin Lee, who had previously been on the staff at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa.
The roomy interiors complemented by huge glass windows are unlike those of a typical Korean restaurant. Chef Alvin had supervised the decor and styling himself, paying close attention to the details: a vintage telephone and cookbooks on the counter, dainty light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. One wall is covered in caricatures of the restaurant’s staff, with their own personal messages for the guests—a fun and creative way to show their dedication to thoughtful service.
Relaxing and inviting music plays throughout your meal—it was so good that I wanted a copy of the songs. Photos of the dishes are on the menu, creating a visual process for choosing your order.
The fullness of savory flavors, the authentic high-quality ingredients and the generous servings are just some of the factors that made everything served at CookPub commendable. The extremely cheesy Tteokbokki, a spicy Korean rice cake topped with oozing mozzarella cheese, is a definite favorite. The huge pot of Eomuk Jang, Korean fish cake topped with one whole crab, and the Japchae, sweet and savory stir-fried glass noodles, are both fantastic picks as well. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the KF Sisig either—it brings some oriental flavor to the Filipino appetizer.
We washed everything down with their calamansi juice selection. Curious about the drink, I had opted for the red calamansi juice. Restaurant manager Belle Tabique explained that the drink had originally been her mother’s recipe, its red color coming from the sweet potato tops that are mixed with the drink. The drink’s healthy aspect doesn’t just come from the calamansi’s vitamin C, but from the sweet potato as well, which is a good source of iron.
When we thought the gastronomic feast was over, Chef Alvin brought out a special dessert called Hot Cookie and Ice Cream. The cookie at the bottom is layered with a scoop of ice cream, and topped with sweetened fruits and confectionery sugar, all served in a very cute cauldron.
The bistro and bar is open until 4:00 AM, giving their customers more time to unwind with their beer selection and Gran Tierra wine.
According to Chef Alvin, good food and good drinks are CookPub’s way to elevate the Cebuano dining experience. It’s certainly given us a new appreciation for Korean food, and we can’t wait for our second visit to discover more ways to bring Korean and Filipino cultures together.
Island Central Mall
MEPZ Ecozone, Lapu-Lapu City
CookPub – Modern Korean Bistro and Bar