Tag Archives: korean

Mission #3: Yarraville Gardens

Considering I was kind-of-almost in the westside the other day (Kensington), I thought for Mission #3, that I would stop by Yarraville Gardens and experience the food truck hype. Continue reading

Anju Bar and Restaurant

Lately, I’ve been discussing and pondering over the idea of themes on my blog. Someone recently commented that I often blog about the same sort of places. Thus, next month I’ll be starting a new idea – so watch out!

For this month, let’s just say I’ll continue with my “usual” places, which I have realised consists of mainly Asian or modern Asian joints! (Check out this category, and it becomes even more apparent).

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Following my recent discovery of modern Korean restaurant Suda, I happened to discover another similar restaurant called Anju Bar and Restaurant via the procrastination that is Instagram.

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A friend mentioned it wasn’t busy last time she went, but with only two people, my friend and I still had to be seated at the bar on a Thursday night. It seemed most of the larger tables were taken or booked so I was happy that we were still able to squeeze in.

20140710_181647The menu is divided into traditional and modern dishes (click on picture above). I was surprisingly not overly hungry and decided to order the dishes that I’d heard most about, the sliders and the mother and son omelette.

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They also have plenty of Korean alcoholic drinks (click above) to go alongside your dish, from soju cocktails (again!) to rice wine (makgeolli).

You’ll notice, I drive often, so I had to go for a more tame pear juice ($4, below). I’m not sure if they make it themselves or not, but it came in the current trend of a mason jar mug, and had a nice, light and slightly diluted taste of pear.
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I have also seen pictures of an interesting ice-cream soju cocktail, as seen on The Bake-a-nista’s post, but I didn’t spot it on the menu above. It seems to involve dipping an ice-cream (on a stick) into your drink, so I hope they bring it back! It may have been a summer item.

20140710_183030Since all the sliders sounded amazing, we decided to order four of them. This included the soft shell crab (right), beef bulgogi (centre), pork bulgogi (spicy pork, left) and panko ebi (crumbed prawn, back). All sliders were $6 except the soft shell crab, $8.

Service was swift and attentive. It could be because we were right at the bar and in front of the register, but I’ve heard many good accounts. We asked for a knife to split our sliders and one was provided a mere few seconds later.

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Each slider had its own unique taste to match the filling. The prawn and soft shell crab had mayonnaise type of sauces and a slaw filling to match their crispy exteriors. I think I enjoyed the soft shell crab the most. It was crunchy and slightly juicy whilst complimented by the slaw and sauces.

The beef bulgogi meat was nice and sweet too, but a bit plain with not much else in there. The spicy pork felt a bit similar, but also didn’t feel suitable in a burger for me.

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Above is the mother and son omelette ($26), which was an oven baked omelette with cheese, bean shoots and spicy chicken inside. This was very cheesy, but I enjoy my cheese so it wasn’t a problem. The chicken pieces are a little hard to find but the cheese and egg make it a filling dish.

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The prices are more expensive than you would usually pay for Korean fare, especially as you get to the meatier options, but this is not your typical Korean restaurant. I’d gladly return for the lovely setting and service to try a few more items (and drinks), as it’s something a little different. But for now, I haven’t left with the desire to come rushing back immediately.

Warning: you will smell strongly of food when you leave, as the picture above shows how open the cooking area is at Anju!

Anju Bar and Restaurant is located at 18 Little Latrobe St and is open Mon to Fri 11:30am-2:30pm and Mon to Sun 5:30-11:00 pm.

Anju Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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

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

Rue & Co

I wrote about the new eating spot Rue & Co recently on Weekendnotes but I’m yet to express my opinion on the food.

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It houses Melbourne foodie names such as St Ali (which has cafes in North and South Melbourne), Masterchef George Calombaris’ Greek venture, Jimmy Grants, and Kong, a taste of Chin Chin’s Chris Lucas’ yet-to-open restaurant.

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You’ve probably heard all about it by now, but it also contains a large work of art by street artist RONE (the portrait in the first picture), whilst fairy lights and projections add to the beauty at night.
20140502_175028After examining the menus, we felt spoilt for choice. Lucky we had a group of five or so, which means we could all get something different.

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As a massive lover of Chin Chin, I was eager to try Kong (menu above), influenced by Korean and Japanese food. The buns looked a little small and not too interesting as we peered over at other peoples’ meals. One friend chose the roast pork belly kong bo ssam (below). We weren’t entirely sure what it was, but the description says it is served with kimchi, ssam jang (spicy sauce) and butter lettuce ($14). We also thought it’s hard to go wrong with pork belly.

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Unfortunately it was a bit underwhelming for $14. The sauce was light and doesn’t add much flavour, and I’m not sure what the difference between lettuce and butter lettuce is, as it tasted fairly normal.

I also ordered a ssam roti roll with BBQ lemon and gochujang chicken with slaw, Korean chilli paste and zucchini kimchi ($12). This was like a normal wrap in roti bread with a touch of spice. It’s possible I’ve set my expectations too high because of Chin Chin, but I’d be happy to try the restaurant when it opens in Richmond and its full menu before I completely write it off.

Kong on Urbanspoon
Meanwhile, my friends were lining up at Jimmy Grants for the 200g slow roasted lamb shoulder ($18.50, below), served with pita bread and tzatziki sauce. I’ve heard a lot about Jimmy Grants but never had the chance to drop by the original restaurant, so this location seemed convenient.

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They also bought a serve of chips with garlic, feta and oregano ($7, above), which were nice whilst the lamb was standard, but serving size seems a bit small for $18.50.

I preferred the souvlaki, Mr. Papadopoulos ($9.50, below), which another friend ordered. It contained lamb, mustard aioli, chips, onions and parsley. This was surprisingly the best thing I tried that night – even my friend who doesn’t like Greek food enjoyed it too.
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Jimmy Grant's on Urbanspoon

After this I was still hungry so it was time for round two! After much debate, we went with a shroom burger with caramelised onion and thyme from St Ali’s Church of Secular Coffee with chips ($12, below right). It’s a good option for vegetarians as the mushroom is large and juicy.

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My friend didn’t realise the omission of the word ‘meat’ so was a bit disappointed haha, but I guess for non-vegetarians there are more exciting burgers. Someone on my Instagram recommended the soul searching burger, which contains kimchi and shrimp with spicy mayonnaise.

The St Ali menu has changed slightly after its initial opening from the menu below, thus now each day has a special burger and some names may have changed.
Whilst my friends went to get our burger, curiosity took the better of me and I went to try some of Jimmy Grants’ dim sims ($7.50 for 3 pieces). I’d seen many people express their love for these on Instagram, but for my friends it was a bit odd with ingredients such as peas inside. *A lovely reader has pointed out these are in fact capers not peas. Not that odd, however still not entirely to my taste. The dim sims contain cabbage, chicken, coriander and capers!

I was indifferent, but they didn’t live up to all the hype I’d observed and I would choose my sister’s homemade dim sims any day!

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We didn’t have any dessert as we headed off to Sugar Hit Melbourne – Bollywood that night.

This just meant I found an excuse to drop by one morning before work. The only thing open at this time is St Ali and although it was 10am, a long line of corporates and everyday Melburnians greeted me (below).

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As I overheard someone tell his colleague, “Yeah that’s what you do in Melbourne. Coffee.”

St Ali has some of the best baristas in the world, so why not drop by? I can concur my latte was great and I rarely like lattes without a hint of flavour. I eyed the interesting profiteroles on the menu last time so I bought a mixed pack of six to share with colleagues ($3 each) on this occasion.

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The chocolate and hazelnut was great, with a little hazelnut on top, chocolate cream inside and a bit of a crumbly texture akin to a cookie and different to your normal profiteroles.

The salted caramel was great too, with the salty hint not too strong. I can’t decide which one I liked more!

Church of Secular Coffee on Urbanspoon

Overall, the food did not wow me as much as I’d think these big names would. Maybe I didn’t try the right items, but I think it’s the atmosphere and beauty of Rue & Co that really draws you in.

Rue & Co is open from 7am until late every day and is located at 80 Collins St, Melbourne CBD.

Koba K-BBQ

Koba KBBQ provides some excellent fusion takeaway food to go, with a blend of Mexican and Korean. Who knew the flavours would combine so effortlessly? Located in the laneways of Melbourne, it’s hard competition when Hardware Societe is located directly opposite you. However, it provides an entirely different option, more of a place to get food on your lunch break or enjoy a deliciously messy meal.

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Having work myself, the only option was to visit on a Saturday and it wasn’t too busy. The small tables, benches and some outdoor seats once again suggest a takeaway feel or the type of meal where you eat and do not linger.

The menu is simple enough – burrito, tacos or rice bowl with your choice of Korean filling. You can even get kimchi fried rice instead of normal rice, however I thought this might be too chilli for my weak tastebuds, as I was already planning to try the ultimate Korean filling – spicy pork.

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I ended up going for spicy pork tacos whilst my sister got a chicken burrito. It’s unfortunate you can’t get different meats in your taco set, but understable for practicality reasons. They asked if we wanted spicy sauce on either meals, but as I said, I had to give any extra spiciness a miss!

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What I could not give a miss was the kimchi fries ($7, above). The fries come covered in cheese, caramelised onions, kimchi, onion relish and sour cream. This is similar to say, having nachos covered in salsa but with more of a Korean feel. For me, the flavours really worked and nothing felt unnatural. In fact my sister, struggling with her burrito, didn’t eat many fries, so I finished them off with all their cheesy kimchi goodness.

20140222_132022The fries weren’t really spicy but the large chicken burrito ($9.50, sorry for blurry picture) was slightly so. It was packed with fresh ingredients, evident as the ingredients were visible at the counter and we had seen them making it from where we were sitting. I enjoyed a bite and could see why my sister was getting so full.

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My tacos came in a set of three ($9.90) with cheese, kimchi, salsa and more, looking tasty and fresh. I loved the fact that the cold ingredients were packed in to balance out the spicy pork and the smokey barbecue sauce was also subtle enough to compliment the tastes and not overpower the pork. However, I felt the burrito provided more value as it seemed more filling and cheaper than my tacos.

Of course it was messy – we may have used half of their serviettes, but boy it was good. If you’re a fan of Korean sauces and meat and Mexican food, this is the place for you. I think it would be great if they stayed open a bit later when they get more popular, as people like me who don’t work in the city can’t visit at lunch. But then again, the atmosphere seems to suit lunch more!

Koba KBBQ is open Mon-Sat 11.30-4.30pm. It is located at 119 Hardware St, Melbourne CBD.

Koba K-BBQ 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.