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Samgyeopsal: Why is it so popular in the Philippines?

Leanne Josephine C. Austria

March 20, 2023

  • When we hear the word, ‘Samgyeopsal,’ we can imagine four things: the restaurant, side dishes, the various meats, and the grill. But did you know that ‘Samgyeopsal’ means “three-layer flesh” as seen in the pork belly when cut? Hmm!

    They say that it all started with pop culture. Most of us Filipinos really can’t rid of watching KPOP novelas and to tell you honestly, it’s not hard for us Filipinos to embrace their culture as they have introduced it to us since the late 1990s.

    Same goes with Korean style and beauty. Most of our skin cares, makeups and even their beauty regimen leaves a mark on the Filipino audience. So now, Korean food has no excuse for us to ignore it. Filipinos love eating, duh!

    Let’s name some of the famous Korean food we, Filipinos, love: Kimchi, spicy noodles, ramyeon, bulgogi, milk tea, and the most popular, samgyeopsal or Korean barbecue.

    Well, here in the Philippines, the word is automatically understood as “unlimited meat grilling” eaten in restaurants. This dish from Korea has been loved by Filipinos for years and at first, it seems to be overrated but when you start trying it, it feels unstoppable.


    Here are some reasons why I think Samgyeopsal is very popular among Filipinos:

    1. It’s UNLIMITED!

    Let’s face it, we’re all suckers for a good deal or what we call “sulit” which makes us seek the most value for our money. The unlimited food offer deceives us not just because it satisfies our insatiable appetite but also because Filipinos believe we’re obtaining maximum pleasure for a low price.


    2. There are a lot of choices

    Who doesn’t love food with so many flavors on one table? When we are at home, we usually just cook one or two dishes because it takes time to prepare. The side dishes offered by these Korean restaurants are really enticing because it’s unusual for us Filipinos to have so many flavors in one table. It’s like “fiesta” for us to have that much food in one dining!


    3. Fair price

    This is only my opinion, but the price is just enough for a good Korean dining experience. You don’t have to worry about the bill because it’s an unlimited package. You just focus on cooking, eating, and bonding with your friends!


    4. The joy of the experience

    Most of the Filipinos who are non-cooks turn into professional grill masters when they are eating at the samgyeopsal restaurants! We don’t know why but there’s just really something about grilling meat on the table with your family and friends! We enjoy sharing this kind of experience beacause it gives us a sense of family and togetherness.

    This samgyeopsal craze is booming non-stop! Even during the pandemic, people loved it especially when they were in the comfort of their respective homes. But the real question is, what triggered its popularity?

    This trend has a huge factor in our society, economically, physically, socially, and culturally.

    Samgyeopsal with various samgyeopsal side dishes and sauce are definitely a hit to the taste buds of Filipinos!


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