Tag Archives: bulgogi

Suda

I must admit, Suda was a great find. A small modern Korean restaurant serving tapas dishes and more, this place is everything a small and unique restaurant should be.

20140619_181225It’s located on a laneway in the quieter end of the city, just off Lonsdale St. Healeys Lane has a strip of eateries to choose from and Suda’s cosy decor and warm atmosphere make a good bid for customers.

My first visit was on a Thursday night, and business was quite steady with their largest table reserved. There’s only about four-five larger tables and a few smaller ones for two, so I’d suggest booking in case. There is also an L-shaped bench in the corner.

Owner of Suda, Kayoung Alice, was such a great host that I came back for a second visit. She is playful and talkative, and said her restaurant had only been open for about two-three months.

She encouraged us to try modern Korean dishes that young Korean people eat, rather than traditional dishes such as bibimbap, which we were about to order. She made a good point – so we followed her advice.

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I enjoyed her passion for this modern cuisine, which was a refreshing change from other common Korean restaurants. Both my visits and her Instagram page prove many young Koreans frequent the restaurant, thus this culture seems prominent.

Due to my two visits, I’ll be comparing dishes from both experiences.

Drinks – menu
Suda has a drinks menu full of reasonable prices. For example their soju cocktails are only $6 compared to $17 at Joomak. However, it is a only a tall glass at Suda, whereas Joomak is a small jug. Still, if you were only after a drink or two, Suda would be great.

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As I was driving, and I liked the sound of their iced teas, I went with a plum mint iced tea ($4, above). They brew these flavours earlier in the day so the drink comes out quickly. You have to stir a bit for the plum and mint to combine, but these ingredients seem to really compliment each other.

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Alice also kindly provided two complimentary glasses of their own sangria, which she insisted was mild. I still let my friend have both and she enjoyed it as it wasn’t as strong as your typical sangria. I find this a good trait, because I personally dislike the wine-like taste of sangria. A jug of Suda’s sangria would only cost you $19.

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My second visit, I felt the need to try another combination of flavours. Once again the designated driver for the night, I went with an orange yuzu ade ($4.50, top left). I was told yuzu is another citrusy fruit. Somehow my drink still tasted alcoholic, so I’m not sure if that was a result of the yuzu or what they use for the ades.

Meanwhile, my friend had a lemon ginger soju cocktail ($6, top right) which looked nice and easy to drink. I remember my lychee cocktail at Joomak was quite strong, so if I was after something light to have alongside dinner, this would be suitable for a laidback night.

Tapas – dinner menu
Suda is quite proud of its unique Korean tapas menu, and its understandable when you have a read through. We were curious as to what the kimchi fritters ($10, below) would taste like and how it would come served.

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Upon questioning Alice, she was happy to provide us a complimentary half-serve, so the above picture is not a full serve. They were pretty much fried balls of goodness, full of compressed calamari and kimchi and steaming hot inside.

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The second time, I was eager to try the mini burgers. There is a tofu burger and also a tteok-galbi (like a beef patty/meatball) burger ($4.50 each), which both demonstrate different flavours.

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The tofu burger has your familiar taste of kimchi, whilst the tofu itself was a large juicy chunk. It’s not bland and seems marinated or cooked in something that provides a bit more flavour.

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The tteok-galbi immediately had my friend’s approval. It was so tender and beautifully demonstrated the power of Korean marinated food. I’d say this burger was the winner for our tapas dishes and is a must order.

Pasta
When we were dissuaded from bibimbap which “you can order anywhere”, the Korean pasta section caught our eye and seemed worth a try.

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We went with the beef bulgogi pasta ($15, above) with shitake mushroom and shredded egg. I loved the presentation of it and it definitely exemplified this modern Korean cuisine.

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The beef at Suda seems to be a standout, so any dish including it is a safe choice. We also ordered the fried beef udon ($12, below) the second time, which was a bit saucier served with sweet soy. Both dishes had a bit of a chilli for those who like a bit of spice.

I prefer the pasta, as it feels lighter so you have more room to enjoy the beef, whereas the udon reminds me more of Chinese takeaway restaurants. The udon wasn’t part of the pasta menu but I felt it was suitable to compare with.
20140627_175509-newAnother dish on the pasta menu, but more rice based, was the tteok-galbi and kimchi gratin ($16). I’d seen this one on the Instagram and became attracted by the cheesy goodness. The cheese covers the top whilst underneath you’ll find some spicy, kimchi rice.

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It’s served with only two pieces of tteok-galbi, which I cut into smaller pieces and mixed it with the rice. I enjoyed this dish mainly because of the layer of cheese. My friend who is not a fan of red Korean sauces preferred the beef udon.

Miscellaneous
The other dishes I tried include the crumbed seafood pancake ($13, below). I liked the thickness of the pancake and the use of bread crumbs. You do need a bit of the sauce for the more batter-y parts of the pancake and it does have a lot of spring onion, so if you don’t like them, steer clear!

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Due to the cold weather lately, I also gave into the tempation of the spicy tteokboki soup ($15, below) or spicy ricecakes. It also came with an interesting side of dumplings, a prawn and an egg.

The stew was a medium level of spicy and had a good amount of tteokboki to satisfy my hunger. The other two soups sound appetising too – slow cooked pork belly with kimchi or tofu and seafood soup sound like they’ll be on my list for next time.20140619_184717-new

If you know me, you’ve probably already heard me rave about how cute this place is and how friendly the owner is. I love the different experience and I’m glad I can see them getting more popular. Last Friday almost all the tables seemed reserved.
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I am yet to figure out their fascination with snails, but its provides a nice quirk to the decor. It’s also admirable that Alice embraces social media for her restaurant even though English is not her first language. I remember her confessing that she found Instagram quite confusing, but to me she seems to be getting the hang of it.
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You’ll find from their social media that Suda often holds small functions too. Alice also runs a blog in Korean and mentions that many Korean friends or partners like to show it and translate to other people. If you’re one of those people, click here.

Suda is located at 550 Lonsdale St, but you will need to turn into Healeys Lane and spot their sign. They are open Mon-Sat for lunch and dinner until 11pm and only for dinner on Sundays.
You might need to check with them for specific times as Urbanspoon, Facebook and their menu say slightly different things.

Suda on Urbanspoon

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Joomak

Joomak is a nifty, little Korean place located in a spot that you probably walk past everyday. In fact, it’s located immediately across the university I attended for three years, and I still never noticed!

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Of course, there’s a reason for that. It’s located downstairs, with the only signage evident after you poke your head into a random doorway and spot the pictured Joomak signs.

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Once you walk down the random stairway, not sure what to expect, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when some warm blue lights and private booths greet you. There are smaller tables out in the open, but we made a reservation, so we were led to a spacious booth.

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For a place I hear of so often, the menu seemed quite succinct (click image for larger picture). We were actually hoping for Korean BBQ but didn’t realise that they don’t offer it.

On the brightside, this made it easier to choose as we were especially hungry.

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I can never pass on most Korean pancakes. I usually order the seafood but as one friend wasn’t a fan of seafood, we thought we’d try the kimchi and pork.

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This was not bad, a little thin, but it was good to have a bit of meat in there. Of course it tasted better with a bit of dipping sauce (bottom dish), which seemed to be some mix of soy and sesame? Not an expert on the sauces that come with Korean food, but I know that I like them! You also get a bundle of kimchi (above the sauce) and interestingly a side dish akin to a pasta salad.20140523_182608 We ordered a few more dishes, and as often with Korean food it’s all about their marinated meat. Pictured above is the mild pan-fried pork ($15). It looks a bit small compared to other restaurants and for the price, and it also didn’t look as red as other places, which usually comes from some classic, spicy Korean sauce.

However, we did ask for mild and despite the appearance, I could taste a similar flavour to that red Korean sauce. It wasn’t really spicy at all, but that familiar Korean pork flavour demonstrates that it’s hard to go wrong with this dish.

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I preferred the pork to our beef bulgogi ($33, above), which has less of a flavour but kept me coming back because it has some Korean noodles underneath. This helped to satisfy one of my friends and I, as we were disappointed we couldn’t find japchae, sweet potato noodles, on the menu.

We also ordered the deep fried chicken drummettes ($15 for 7 pieces). This came with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Like The BakeanistaI found this similar to a Chinese fried chicken, the skin not as crunchy and crumbed as most contenders in this new KFC/Korean Fried Chicken craze.

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But, what really got us was the drinks. Unsurprisingly, Joomak is also a popular bar, thus the small tables are available to those just after a few drinks, or there are some stools along the side. Above, you will see a strawberry soju cocktail that one friend ordered, with a little shot-like glass hiding behind it.

Another friend ordered the pineapple, and they both taste quite fruity with the alcohol not obvious. My friend and I received a lychee version for two, and for some reason it tasted a lot a stronger (but still good). I think they were about $17, so they really add up in your bill!

This place was not a standout to me, surprisingly after so many raving reviews. But, I’ve decided that after I saw this Instagram post from Food For My Belly that I’ll definitely need to return for the rice cakes with cheese and seafood. Looks devilishly good!

Joomak is located at 407/409 Swanston St, Melbourne CBD and is open Mon-Tue 5pm-1am, Wed–Thurs 5pm-3am and Fri-Sun 5pm-5am according to their Facebook.

Joomak on Urbanspoon

Warra Warra Korean Kitchen

When I’m in the mood for some hearty, Asian food, I find that many Korean restaurants in the Melbourne CBD can deliver this. This year, I’ve discovered my new favourite Korean restaurant – Warra Warra, stealing the crown from the past winners of my heart, CJ Lunch Bar and Darac Grill and Bar.

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In fact, I find Warra Warra a little similar to Darac, purely because of their lunch ordering system with pieces of paper and boxes to tick what you would like in your meal. It has less options and variations than Darac, but that’s OK, because too many options often makes me more indecisive.

If you’re not sure what I mean, check out an old version of their menu here. Their updated menu has options to choose what sides you want with your meal (eg. takoyaki, gyoza) and I also saw a sign indicating that they will be adding a few more things to their lunch menu starting from today.

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It’s also quite hidden, in the back alleys and laneways between Little Collins and Bourke St. It’s small and cute, another one of those hidden Melbourne places that you feel proud to discover. Despite its size, the seating is more spacious than most cramped Asian restaurants, and another point of difference from Darac is their food bar. They have small pre-cooked dishes that you can simply take from the display and pay for it with your meals.

Warning – they disappear quite quickly! I saw a box of takoyaki (octopus balls), and after turning around to get my wallet, looked back to see that they were gone! So I went for some chilli Korean fried chicken – as I’m a bit behind in this KFC craze.

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Unfortunately, they had evidently been sitting there for a while thus it was a tad soggy and not crispy. It’s probably better to go for the cold food, such as salads, as it won’t lose its quality.

What we really go to Warra Warra for though, are the lunch meals. Last time I had the beef japchae with rice, whilst my friend had the mild pork bulgogi. The pork was tasty but wasn’t spicy at all, so this time I thought I’d discover what their spicy pork bulgogi tastes like, whilst my friend ordered chicken teriyaki.  We also both ordered takoyaki as our sides, considering the food bar version disappeared! Our two meals plus the fried chicken only cost about $23.

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The presentation of meals also added to the “cute” feel, with the meat being served in little pans. The pork was just spicy enough for me, as I’m not too chilli-tolerant. My friend’s chicken teriyaki was also rich in flavour, not your usual teriyaki taste, a hint of sweetness, almost like plum sauce – and we loved it.

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This place does not disappoint. The staff are cheery and friendly, and they are still playing around with the menu to satisfy their new following. I will have to try it sometime for dinner too – and perhaps try one of their fruit + soju cocktails hehe!

Warra Warra on Urbanspoon

Warra Warra Korean Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner, Mon-Sat. For more details see their website here and checkout their map below for their location.