Darac Grill & Bar
51 A’Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9662 2441
My enthusiasm for cooking comes in small little waves, and for the most part, I prefer to just eat out these days. Because Fatbee and I only go for cheap eats, it actually becomes almost as affordable as home cooking (albeit less healthy). If anything else, one could argue that this is good for the economy!! It also helps that Fatbee lives really close to the city, so we’d quite often stroll into town (so healthy!) for our dinner… a ritual that I quite enjoy doing.
I was in the funny mood for Korean cocktails one Sunday night, so we walked towards Joomak’s underground lair on Swanston St only to find out it was shut. Plan B involved exploring the vicinity around A’Beckett St and we quickly decided on Darac.
Rice $2 | Yakult Soju Cocktail $8
I’ve been here a number of times already and, if the crowd’s already any indication of it, the food’s pretty good. However, the Korean cocktail selection isn’t as fabulous here, with many items being served in a bottle or a can, and no fruit-infused makkoli cocktails! So we both tried the only cocktail that sounded appealing – a combination of soju with yakult and soda. Good choice though…! It was nice and sparkly with hints of yoghurt.
A3 Pork Shabushabu Sausage Stew (Medium) $29
For that evening, we veered away from the yummy stone-bowl bibimbaps and decided to share a hotpot instead. A cunning plan on my part if I may add… because now that we’re in October and the weather’s warming up, I wanted to enjoy hotpots and soups a bit more before it gets too warm for it.
Darac seems like a bit of a specialist with Korean Army Stews, with quite a few iterations of it on the menu. We picked the version that came with thinly-sliced pork, shabushabu-style. It seems like every second blog post I publish these days is a Korean joint, with me tucking into the deliciousness of an army stew. Change blog name to “The Army Stew Diaries”… no?
Jokes aside, I’m really glad we tried this dish. On top of the usual stock-standard tinned rations of SPAM, baked beans, cocktail sausages and ham with kimchi and spicy paste… once things got bubbling, the discovery didn’t stop. This stew also boasted squares of tofu, macaroni, zucchini, sweet potato noodles, rice cakes, garden chrysanthemum, spring onion and of course sliced pork.
I found the components here balanced each other very nicely, and I liked how the presence of gochujang (spicy paste) wasn’t overpowering… making for a gentler broth with a slightly ‘milky’ flavour. I really enjoyed this offering.
Korean Army Stews (Buddae Jiggae) isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a fan of it like I am, then I recommend you give Darac’s version of it a try… if you can find a table in this busy restaurant to begin with!
We will end this post with a delightful discovery that we’d made the same evening. Just a few doors down from Darac, we found a Japanese supermarket opened by the Hometown group of Asian grocers. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, we also found a huge section wholly devoted to matcha flavoured goodies!
Japanese snacks tend to have no English translations on the packet, so part of the fun is actually randomly buying whatever looks unusual or fun! Here’s the bounty that we came home with that evening! And you’re probably not going to be surprised, but I loved the pink Rilakkuma snack-in-a-cup the best. It’s actually strawberry flavoured crispy puffs with hints of cuttlefish!