I have a theory. I think most of us living in Melbourne would’ve, at some point, driven or walked along that stretch of Victoria St between Hoddle and Church. It’s like the Swanston St of Richmond, but lined with Asian grocers and Vietnamese restaurants.
If you’ve passed that stretch recently, you may have noticed a very appealing looking Korean nook, all aglow with cosiness. That hole-in-the-wall vibe attracted fakegf and I like moths to a flame, and we paid a visit one Saturday last month.
Very small, very narrow, very industrial chic, very minimalist. Bare walls, white tiles, naked light bulbs, dark iron and wood. Still it manages to feel pretty cosy in its incandescence. And the (Korean/Japanese?) staff were just lovely.
Large exhuasts above the tables suggests they offer Korean BBQ here, but the menu says otherwise. The closest thing to char-grilled dishes involve bulgogi type items being served on a sizzling hot plate. Maybe in the future we’ll get Korean BBQ.
Korean soy milk $3 / Sikhye (Korean traditional Rice punch) $3
There were a couple of interesting drinks on the menu that we decided to try. The Korean soy milk tasted pretty unusual, nutty with a hint of milky cereal. Fakegf enjoyed it. My Korean rice punch went a few steps further in unusualness. It tasted like slightly fermented rice water, and also a bit like barley drink. Reminded me of the toddy liquer (palm wine) that I consumed while travelling in Myanmar.
Spicy Chicken bulgogi Dosirak (Meal Bucket) $13
Being just us two, we went with one dish meals. One of the cute feature menu concepts here were the Dosirak meal buckets, I’ve never heard of that before. So cute! Everything’s in a wooden bucket. Fakegf found it amusing that the dessert, consisting of a slice of orange and a few grapes, was in the same bucket alongside with all the other savoury components.
Overall, she found the Dosirak not spicy enough and it was also on the sweet side. The sweetness was understandable though, because Korean sauces are always sweet anyway, no? To be honest, any Korean dishes with the words ‘spicy sauce’ I normally avoid because the sauces tend do be like sweet chilli sauce.
Beef Bibimbap $14
I have a confession: I’m a bibimbap virgin. Haha.. food blogger fail. Fakegf is more familiar with this dish, and she mentioned that it should’ve been served in a hot stone bowl. With the sweet chilli sauce and sesame oil that’s customarily squirted into the bowl when bibimbaps are served here, I told the waitress to put it on the side, so that I could experiment with how much seasoning I want. Good move, the sweet chilli sauce would’ve spoiled the dish for me.
Once I mixed everything up, the dish tasted pretty alright. I enjoyed the sesame seasoning and only put in a few drops of sweet chilli sauce. The beef tasted fragrant and there were lots of colourful veggies in the dish to satisfy the herbivorous part of myself. It was fun eating this dish, even though I suspect it was possibly not all that authentic.
Great space, lovely staff and simple Korean food that, I believe, has been tweaked to suit modern day tastebuds and sensibilities. Fakegf was not satisfied with her dish, but I quite enjoyed my first bowl of bibimbap, even though it wasn’t set-in-stone (pun intended). I’m now going to seek out authentic bibimbaps in Melbourne, can anyone recommend me a place?