So We Tried Hyundai's New Korean Restaurant Na Oh

When an automobile giant that's all about innovation does food, situated on the far west of Singapore, how's it gonna taste?
Published: 18 June 2024

It's not every day a global brand establishes a fancy new testbed in Singapore, and certainly not every day for said venture to be a customer experience complete with joyrides and a star-backed restaurant. So when Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore (HMGICS for short) unveiled Na Oh, our keen anticipation is justified.

Add restauranteur Corey Lee, the world's first Korean chef to earn three Michelin Stars and whose casual Korean fare SAN HO WON in San Francisco earned a star in its first year, to the equation and you bet appetites are whet.

The ambience

Every design element is created by Korean artisans.

Amidst the sleek, modern surfaces and machinery of the building's interior, Na Oh distinguishes itself with softer materials like cotton and wood, instantly signaling the domestic ties we attribute to dining.

The 40-seater is pretty well spaced. High ceilings and full glass walls flood the area with natural light... subsequently giving relatively juxtaposing views to the surrounding Jurong West estate. Another contrast comes from the kitchen, where the admittedly sublime corner is quietly adorned with Korean craft and glimpses of staff movement.

But on to the bit you're more excited about.

The food

The seasonal menu presents a hansik four-course, with the option to choose your fighter Jinjitsang; the traditional meal that is your main. The difference is that while served with a variety of sides in classic Korean fashion, the banchan match uniquely to each dish.

All three Jinjitsang deliver. Perhaps the most straightforward of the lineup is the Golden Queen Rice and Butterfish Gamasot, but the quality of the fish shows in its tender texture that nicely complements fragrant charred rice.

The Samgyetang is not foreign to most locals who make repeat pilgrimage to Korea. Here however, it is more of a hassle-free encounter with the chicken already removed from the soup and primed for picking. Even then, not much picking is required when the perfectly prepped meat peels easily from the bone.

The Pyongyang-Style Cold Noodles may be a rarer find in Singapore. The non-chewy buckwheat staple topped with uncharacteristically raw beef loin result in a delicious and unexpected treat for Naengmyeon-lovers.

Whatever your choice, do yourself a favour and order the Cheongju (clarified Makgeolli) to pair.

Special ingredients

Though the mains be doing the most, starters hardly pale in comparison. Take your induction for example. Homemade Tofu with Aged Soy Sauce. As Chef Corey Lee points out, tofu is a dish familiar to all Asians, but it's the aged soy sauce that takes the stage.

"Honestly, how many of us have tried real, naturally-made soy sauce?" Lee raises the question with the fact that it's a highly uncommon product these days. Due to its instability, the versions we consume are often diluted with alcohol, preservatives or alternative components.

Which is why this 100 percent soybean construct is practically an artisanal ingredient; one he brought with him all the way from San Francisco so all diners here to get the chance to taste.

It's literally written at the base of your menu: Na Oh only uses jang fermented using traditional methods and naturally aged. You can actually see them stored in large clay jars at the restaurant's entrance as a set up you would understandably mistake for a cool aesthetic display.

The other two courses source their selection of greens directly from HMGICS' own smart farm. You wouldn't have missed the double-storey vertical garden on your way in, but you would be surprised to know that it has the capacity for 30kg of daily produce. The variety of ice plant, Swiss chard, kale, and more truly possess a crisp that's testifies of their freshness.

Now, the good news is that menu is priced at a worthy SGD78 per pax. The bad news is that you may try your luck getting a spot with dinner fully booked for the month ahead, and only tight slots available for lunch.

Besides Na Oh


Do allocate more time to your trip down to the hub because not only is it an excursion—cue Journey to the West puns—HMGICS also offers an 80-minute CX Discovery Tour that's completely free to the public.

Guests get to attempt harvesting at the smart farm, witness the same robotics and automation technology used to make the cars tend to the garden, as well as taste the crops. Also, take a 3D VR tour of the advanced automated manufacturing operating within HMGICS itself.

Lastly and probably the fan favourite, get a ride on the 618-meter rooftop Skytrack. You'll be seated in a locally produced Hyundai IONIQ 5 with a professional driver (sadly you don't get to be behind the wheel, nor is the robotaxi commissioned for this). Our top tip is to sit behind the driver for the best experience, and stop by the rad, eco-themed gift shop before you leave.

Na Oh opens Wednesday to Sunday and is located at Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore (HMGICS), 2 Bulim Link Singapore 649674. Reservations for Na Oh and the Discovery Tour are to be made separately.

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