7 & 7 Korean Restaurant

21 Koornang Rd
Carnegie, VIC 3163
03 9572 4711

Not that I’m fishing for commiserations, but I’ve been quite downcast lately. Events back in Singapore, and at work, have been nagging at the back of my mind. And I’m starting to question the wholesomeness of my lifestyle in Melbourne… working, eating, cooking, blogging.
It feels like the years are rolling by quickly now. Christmas, Midsumma, Grand Prix, Winter, Christmas, Midsumma again, Grand Prix again, Winter again, and now it’s Spring. And through it all, I’m still doing the same things. Yes, working, eating, cooking, blogging. Is there more? Will this snapshot look the same in 5 years, 10 years time?
Speaking of the passage of time, this Korean meal at 7 & 7 happened with Fu Mei on his visit to Melbourne. He’s a friend I’d made 3 years ago when I first arrived, one who left soon after we’d met, to work in the US. But here we were again, having a meal at one of our favourite eateries, years later.
And who’d have guessed that Carnegie is a nidus for good Korean, Chinese and Japanese food…? You got Aunties Dumplings, Red Cliff, Shyun and probably more that I don’t know of! But first things first, look at what I’ve found!

Yes, everybodee! You’re seeing it for real. An Asian restaurant with NO MSG. Yes, yes… please go easy with your cameras, now now… easy easy… you’ll all have your turn.

Aaaah… this is what I look forward to when dining out at Korean places. Dad calls all these mini dishes “kim chi”. But I’ll quote Lauren from Footscray Food Blog, who calls it the “little archipelago of side dishes (that) you can flavour-hop between” while waiting for your first dish to arrive.
I really like the “kim chi” we’d routinely get at 7 & 7, especially the agar-like white squares on the bottom left. Even the delicately marinated blanched bean sprouts tastes good. But fu meitells me that 7 & 7 is most renown for the honeyed potatoes, pictured top right. Personally, I don’t like the potatoes cos they’re sweet. I’m old-fashioned and prefer sweet things to remain in the realm of desserts.

The restaurant feels very family-owned. With the bi-focal’ed aunty and the old man at the counter, obviously husband and wife owners, and younger serving staff (nephews? nieces? neighbours?) manning the frontlines. I have brought my folks here as well and they enjoyed their meal, ie. we got hardcore approval.

There are standard dishes that we’d always order in the menu, namely beef bulgogi and samgyetang. On previous visits, my friends would also order the chilli chicken or chilli squid on a sizzling plate, which I’ve never liked. Thankfully this time, fu mei was happy to try the Grilled eel in hot plate with special soy sauce $14.50. Very nice dish. And the king mushrooms were a plus point, they were cooked beautifully and extra succulent.
I first had the Beef Bulgogi – thinly sliced marinated Korean stir-fried beef $14.5 three years ago at this very place, and there has been no going back since then. Being the first beef bulgogi I’d ever tasted, I developed an unreasonable and inexplicable wish that all future beef bulgogis ordered should taste the same – like 7 & 7’s. How pig-headed of me.
Love the marinade, love the beef, and love the bed of vegetables and mushrooms in the dish. But over the years, my tastes buds have changed and I find that the marinade is starting to taste on the sweet side, albeit still delicious. Also, the servings of beef are smaller now and the dish can be a bit oily. So yes, great dish still, but the pull factor has weakened with time.
Sometimes, I don’t see the point in having Korean BBQ. You pay so much and still have to cook things for yourself. Wouldn’t having the Samgyetang 삼계탕 – a whole chicken stuffed with ginseng in a non-spicy soup stuffed with dates and garlic $25 be a much more satisfying choice? Mmmmmm…
These soups tend to be quite thick because there’s a small amount of short grain rice at the bottom. It’s almost half congee, half soup, with a gentle presence of ginseng. So warming, cosy, mellow and delicious. The baby chicken’s usually really soft, so soft you can even eat its bones. And there’s bits of ginseng you can nibble on.
Catching up with fu mei over that meal, we spoke about what has happened in our lives. A lot may have changed, but plenty also hasn’t changed. He chose to move while I chose to stay. We’ve both moved forward in life and maybe also from life. And we’re back again having the same soup we’ve had a few years back.
We ended things with black sesame and green tea ice cream $5.50ea. While I didn’t like the splotches of overly sweet adzuki red bean pastes on top, the black sesame ice cream was pretty good, fragrant. The green tea had no complaints either, and we scraped the bowls clean.
Through our meal, service had been fast and casual-polite. But I have to mention that once we finished our food, the slightly flustered and overworked waittress didn’t ask whether we’d like dessert and automatically brought us the bill instead when I caught her attention. I was mildly annoyed, but we got there in the end. It was about 9.30pm and she must’ve just wanted to knock off work.
If fu mei ever visits Melbourne again, I’ll want us to dine here once more. If anything else, just for poetic completeness. Will I feel the same the next time I write this place up again? Funny how things can change but can also stay the same. (OMG I’m so full of bs tonight) But rest assured, if we dine here again, I’ll be blogging about it.
You might also be interested in reading about nice Korean hotpots that I had at Hallah and Mr Lee. Both are near Queen Victoria Market, North Melbourne.

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