Tag Archives: pork

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

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Rice Workshop (Emporium)

A rare day of public transport failures meant I was able to take the little sister (ruining my photo below) out to eat whilst we waited to get picked up. I rarely eat at casual places in the city now that I work full time in the inner suburbs, so I took advantage of this opportunity to try Rice Workshop, which had been recommended to me.

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They recommended the original store, but I heard that a new branch was opening at the Emporium. I hadn’t had a chance to check out the Emporium, so it was like two birds with one stone. I knew it would be fast takeaway and although it was around 6.30pm, I knew we would still be able to order and eat before the centre closes at 7pm.

Overall, the Emporium is quite brightly lit, spacious and inviting. However, I couldn’t take in any atmosphere, as it was close to closing time and many shops still haven’t opened, so the centre felt very dead.

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The menu is simple and direct, offering regular and large sizes of a decent range of rice and noodle dishes. I think the prices are also a great selling point, with regular dishes around the $7 mark whilst the large are all less than $10.

Unfortunately the service met the sub-standard levels of a food court. The staff seem new and nervous as it’s a new store, and the girl who served me didn’t seem to have a great knowledge of English nor the menu. My little sister ordered the regular chicken teriyaki ($7.20, right). I am fairly sure I ordered the curry pork katsu ($7.90, left), but they gave me a normal one instead, which in hindsight was probably a good mistake as I was debating between the two in my head.

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We both enjoyed our food, my pork was crumbly and not dry, but my sister found the teriyaki sauce was a bit too sweet so by the time she got towards the end of the meal, it became overpowering. Like some other fast/takeaway places, I felt that the rice tends to fill the bowl up a lot underneath the toppings. Thus your meal seems more packed than it is – in the end I had a lot of rice left.

I noticed some chicken karaage ($1.90 – fried chicken) on offer and ordered this too. I didn’t realise they were skewers and placed at the front of the takeaway counter like your usual Asian takeaway. In addition to this, I don’t think the girl knew what chicken karaage was and just went to find a chicken one.

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I think we were given a normal chicken skewer instead, but I would avoid the skewers and try a proper restaurant if you want quality. Or perhaps you can take your chances here if it seems you have just arrived after they’ve been freshly cooked.

The Chinatown branch of this place might be better, as they seem to have quite good reviews. I think this branch is good if you happen to be by the Emporium and would like a cheap but filling meal of good quality. Otherwise, I would willingly pay a few extra dollars somewhere else for a decent dine-in Japanese meal with atmosphere. The staff here need to do a bit of brushing up on their menu knowledge and for anything other than the main dishes, look elsewhere.

Rice Workshop is located at the Emporium, 321 Lonsdale St on Level 3. They are open from 10am-7pm Sat-Wed and 10am-9pm Thurs-Fri. Check out their menu here.

Rice Workshop on Urbanspoon

Modern Asian Restaurants: Cookie

Upstairs on Swanston St, Cookie has been on my list for a while as it’s never been too far away. I was almost turned off from going there merely from a rude waiter on the phone, who snapped that he’s full on Friday night and doesn’t have any room.

However on the Friday, it seemed some online booking spots became free so I snapped one up and crossed my fingers that our service wouldn’t be as rude. Luckily, we were served by a lovely young lady and seated after a few minutes, as it was a bustling Friday night. Due to this though, the bar and restaurant was packed and the atmosphere was very much…LOUD.

It’s very dark but the dining tables are lit up with a single candle, providing romantic and dim lighting. The menu is a reasonable size, but I feel their drinks list is even longer. One of the first dishes we ordered was the sour pork belly salad with ginger, peanuts & curried rice balls ($21.50, bottom left).

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I think the pork was inside the rice balls, not separate (correct me if wrong). Either way, the idea is to break up the rice balls and mix everything together in order to enjoy the salad (end result below). The texture is similar to minced meat, it was different and had light flavours, the curry not really that strong, but this seemed suitable for a salad.

Next up we had the steamed mussels with lemongrass, kaffir lime, ginger, coriander & chilli ($19.50 for half a kilo, bottom right). I think this was our favourite dish, all the seasoning and extra condiments ensured that the mussels kept us coming back for more. The extensive list of ingredients make it sound like it will be extremely rich and exotic, however I think they use small amounts of everything, allowing subtle flavours rather than the bold use of coriander, lime and chilli at Chin Chin.

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On a side note, after perusing a long and overwhelming drinks list, I went for a lychee lemongrass martini ($19, above, right) as I always enjoy the taste of lychee juice. It pretty much tasted like a classic martini infused with lychee, with some lychees in there too. You can browse through their cocktail list here, and see that you can even choose your own flavours for a frozen daiquiri.

Lastly, we ordered the pork spare ribs marinated with roasted chilli & soy ($23.50, below). They were chilli but not overbearingly so. The sauce merely tasted like your regular Asian chilli sauce, and I don’t feel like it went well with the ribs so I ate the ribs on its own. They were quite crispy and a good degree of salty, merely messy to eat in such a fancy atmosphere! And the serving was humungous, granted we did order the mussels and the ribs from the “Large Dishes” menu.

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As usual, the waitress was amazed at how much we ordered and even more amazed when she returned at the end and not a speck was left. I enjoyed the service quite a lot, as the dining area isn’t that large, it feels more intimate and like you are receiving more attention. Even though it was a Friday night, they were quite prompt and helpful at recommending dishes and the best way to enjoy them. However, a small note, they did recommend roti to enjoy with our dishes, although I don’t really feel it fit anywhere. It was a bit plain/soggy, so I would go with rice next time.

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The dessert dishes didn’t really appeal to me and I thought we should instead save our stomachs for a trip to N2 Extreme Gelato. Thus, instead of surprising the waitress even more, we received our bill in a very cute Peter Pan book. For some reason I enjoyed this immensely, as the book was still intact, and flipping through reminded me of childhood days on a very carefree Friday night!

Cookie is located First Floor/252 Swanston Street (same building as Rooftop Bar), and is open 12pm – 1am Sun-Thu and 12pm – 3am Fri-Sat. Find the menu here.

Cookie on Urbanspoon