Update: Doma Modern Korean Shoplex location is now permanently closed, but they are searching for a new location.
Doma Modern Korean restaurant is full of surprises. When it’s not Korean barbecue or hotpot, the notion of eating at a Korean Restaurant conjures up images of bowls of kimchi soup and bibimbap. This is certainly what I was expecting to eat when I climbed the steps to get here.
Ambience & Amenities
Doma’s barbecue grill is smartly placed right at the entrance, wafting the appetite-inspiring scent of roasting pork when it’s fired up. The outside seating shares the space with this grill, lots of steel accents, and the servers rushing to and from the kitchen. The bare and scuffed floors and counters give the patio an industrial atmosphere.
Inside has a much less grungy ambience and looks like your typical smart, upscale cafe: clean white walls with abstract art hung upon them. The indoor dining room smaller than expected. When you enter, a narrow corridor forms part of an L-shaped room with maybe a dozen tables. If possible, get one of the tables facing Jalan Kiara for excellent people watching. There are a couple of tables in the corner next to another bright window, but the view is of a sad alley with dumpsters and paint-chipped walls. There is no bathroom in the restaurant, but one very close by within the Shoplex plaza.
Click on any menu picture to enlarge
The menu is like a well-loved zine: a small booklet of dog-eared, ripped, and slightly soggy pages that have been handled by many enthusiastic hands. Aside from their barbecued meats, Doma’s pride is their KFC – that is, their Korean Fried Chicken. This twice-fried favourite paired with beer is the ultimate Korean comfort food experience and gets top billing on its menu. On Tuesdays, they offer a half-price promotion for half a chicken (regular price RM29).
The rest of the menu is best described as “Korean fusion.” Some classics like pork galbi haven’t been messed with, but others like their kimchi fried rice have a hit of unconventional bacon and parmesan. The best surprise was their page of burgers – totally unexpected at a Korean restaurant, and they all looked amazing. These were not just boring beef burgers that were included to pad out the menu. The American staple gets a Korean makeover, and what comes out sounds incredibly tempting. Some examples are the bulgogi burger and the kimchi pork belly burger. Throughout the menu, you’ll find that the non-Korean food will still have a little nod to Korean tastes. Even their fish and chips, which on the surface looks like a very Western option, Doma has snuck in some Korean elements: instead of the standard coleslaw side, it’s a mixed salad with pickled radish. After browsing their extensive menu for a long time, two options were definite standouts: the ‘Bul Dak’ hot spicy chicken and the pork belly bun.
If you are frugal and absolutely love freebies like me, you’ll be grumbling at the fact that, in most cases, the side dishes cost extra at Doma. After being spoiled by the plethora of Korean restaurants in Mont Kiara that freely bestow those little ramekins of kimchi and pickles that you’ve automatically come to expect, it’s an affront and a rip-off to actually have to pay for them here.
The menu only lists a small number of options too: kimchi, pickles, lettuce bowl and chips. Forgoing the side dishes when you’ve ordered a burger… okay, fine. Digging into a sizzling Dakgalbi with no Japchae to munch on is like trying to enjoy the new Star Wars movies without alcohol – you can do it, but the experience will be markedly better with it. Those little nibbles that you mindlessly nosh on will be a notable hit to your wallet if you insist on ordering them here, with the usual accoutrements costing an extra RM3 to RM5 each. Only twelve options near the back of the menu will include three unspecified side dishes. These sets are all your typical Korean fare, most of them being some kind of meat served with rice.
Doma has a small selection of desserts – sticky rice pancakes and Bingsu – in several interesting flavours at the back of the booklet. The available drinks include everything you might want to drink in a place like this: juice, ice blended, coffee, beer, teas, Korean liqueurs and cocktails. It’s not explicitly listed, but there is free filtered water available in big glass bottles.
We ordered their Korean teas: the Corn Silk Tea (RM10) and Oriental Raisin Tree Tea (RM11). These are bagged teas with the option of having these hot or cold. When ordering hot, you get two cups worth with a small pot of hot water arriving in addition to the filled cup. The corn silk tea has a very mild, barley-like taste. The raisin tree tea smells amazingly earthy. It is more bitter with undeniable notes of pine but without tasting like you’re drinking hot grass water. It’s good, but Mark did mention that it pairs much better with food – a palate cleanser well-suited for the oily and spicy food.
The Pork Belly Buns (RM20 for two) look like a mouth has already begun eating your food. The snow-white bun is soft and puffy, with golf ball dimples decorating its interior. These pillowy bun-mouths envelop a fatty slice of pork belly and strings of cucumber and cabbage. It’s all smothered with dribbling sweet and spicy Korean chilli sauce. This sauce gets everywhere, so you’ll be sopping up puddles of it from the board it is served on. Live for that heavenly bite where it’s pure pork fat!
Mark said that the bun was a little too sweet, but I didn’t get that at all. Maybe your palate will be similarly affected if your tongue happens to be wired the same way. The serving size is quite small for RM20 – each bun was about the size of my palm. This would be an appetizer for most men, but for petite women and those who are not that hungry, this is a decent amount of food.
The Bul Dak Hot Spicy Chicken (RM32) arrives looking like it’s more cheese than anything else. At first glance, you would think it’s a pasta bake with the beautiful, generous layer of melted mozzarella. Green onions sprinkled on top give a much-needed pop of colour. Without them, the dish would be nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing.
Hiding underneath this cheesy roof are cubes of chicken, cabbage, carrots and red chillies in a spicy red sauce. With each spoonful, you’ll be cutting through a thick layer of deliciously gooey mozzarella before getting to the mishmash of ingredients below. The spice level is manageable, but an unexpected bite right down onto a chilli seed will blow up your mouth temporarily.
Admittedly, it didn’t taste like there was much chicken. The majority of every spoonful consisted entirely of filler cabbage. I’m not too mad since I also got a mouthful of chewy cheese and dairy is damn expensive in this country! If you know any staunch veggie haters, this dish could be a way to get them to eat their vegetables.
Food is a bit pricier at Doma over more basic Korean restaurants, but not arrogantly so. The prices of burgers are identical to others you can find in Mont Kiara. Though the individual dishes weren’t a sticker shock, it can all quickly add up. We ended up spending RM85 for a two-person lunch. Next time we won’t spend RM20 on flavoured hot water and it’ll be a little more reasonable.
This was our first time here, and we are already looking forward to our next visit and all the food we want to try. At Doma Korean Restaurant, the menu has such a wide variety of interesting options that two people can get completely different things. The next time you’re with a persnickety group and one person wants Korean food, another wants burgers, someone else is craving pasta, and the last person doesn’t care as long as there is beer, Doma might just be the answer.
Price for 2 Pax: RM85.10
Pork belly buns: RM20.00
Bul Dak hot spicy chicken: RM32.00
Oriental raisin tree tea: RM11.00
Oksusu Suyum (corn silk) tea: RM10.00
10% Service charge: RM7.30
6% SST: RM4.82
Doma Modern Korean Restaurant
15-0-1E Shoplex (New Wing), Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, 50480, Kuala Lumpur (Above Las Vacas Restaurant)
Daily, 10am – 1am
Alcohol Served: Yes