Arirang

Arirang is Kampala’s top Korean restaurant, located in Nakasero on Kyandondo road  – the same road as Kampala’s premier Japanese restaurant Yujo. Arirang is an old hand in the Kampala Asian dining scene.

As such, it has passed through a few hands and made some amendments and alterations over time. The biggest of these being that they have added a whole Chinese menu to their Korean staple. Apparently, the reason is that they’ve found that Ugandan customers are less fond and slightly suspicious of the Korean menu, preferring more familiar Chinese dishes (there are numerous Chinese restaurants!). According to our waiter, it is mainly the Korean (a small population in Kampala these days) and mzungu clientele that opt for the Korean menu. The most popular dish is the Hot Pot buffet (40,000 UGX), which feeds a whole table. You choose your preferred flavour of soup base and then the ingredients to put in it, including crab, sliced goat meat, dumplings and a mixture of vegetables.

The entrance to the restaurant is quite underwhelming – large and generic  – but once you veer off from the main eating room, there are some brilliant private booth rooms that allow you to have a secluded dining experience in a traditional Korean setting. No shoes allowed in this room, so be prepared to leave them at the door! In addition to the traditional dining rooms, Arirang has a large, open dining space that is frequently converted into a wedding-reception hall on weekends. It’s a great space to rent out for large dining parties or corporate functions.

They have the standard Korean dishes, including kimchee, Korean BBQ (try pork tongue or shrimp!), and hot pot. (You can have the kimchee main course with dumplings for 30,000 UGX.) Our party of four shared a beef hot pot and two other dishes, which was more than enough. The cost? Only 20,000 UGX per person. They also have a range of soups for 15,000 UGX and some smaller “starter” versions for only 5,000 UGX. We also ordered the ‘Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap’, another well-known and popular dish that is made of rice topped with beef strips and vegetables and a cooked egg. Its served in an authentic stone bowl and is a great deal at only 15,000 UGX.

Also highly recommended (although a lot pricier) are a number of crab dishes, including “Jiang Cong Chao Xie,” which is crab fried with spring onion and ginger. This dish costs a pricey 48,000 UGX! The Chinese menu is also extensive with meat and veggie dishes costing around 20,000 to 25,000 UGX. It all comes with small accompanying dishes of cucumber, cabbage and peanuts to snack on while you wait.

If you’re going for the first time and this is also your first time sampling Korean food, then its worth getting a few dishes to share or even asking your waiter for recommendations, as they’re very helpful.

And joy of joys…for all of you out there with a secret burning passion to be the next Celine Dion/Michael Bublé but don’t feel comfortable standing in a bowling alley at Garden City in front of a handful of disinterested punters, Arirang offers private karaoke rooms at 30,000 UGX per hour. Fear not; they have an extensive drink menu if you need some Dutch courage first!

This place would be great for a small to medium-sized party if you could take over the whole room. Prices are reasonable for dining out in Kampala, and its definitely worth pushing your comfort boundaries and going for the Korean menu rather than the Chinese!

Hours: 10 am – 10pm
Phone: 0414 346 777 / 0782 888 802
Website: zhanghaolms@hotmail.com

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About Lucy

A Kampalite as of the start of 2012 - I'm really loving my time here and planning to stay for a while. I’m originally from London where I’ve worked for a range of NGOs and am now hoping to try my hand overseas, plus London is way too cold and grey and full of pigeons. I’m currently in search of interesting job opportunities and experiences here and elsewhere – until global warming kicks in that is and then I can head back to the UK as it should have removed the pigeons. Get in touch at lucy@livinginkampala.com.