The Very Very Hungry Caterpillar

YES, this is yet another Melbourne food blog!

Let’s Bab

623 Warrigal Rd
Chadstone VIC 3148
+61 3 9569 9183

I think I have an issue with Korean cuisine. For some reason, it does not rate highly on my list of favourite things to eat.

This could be attributed to either Melbourne not really having any decent Korean restaurants or simply me and Korean food being as compatible as Collingwood FC and people with class. The first time I had Korean food was back in 1999 (or 2000). It was my cousin Jess’ birthday and she decided to shout the family and her friends dinner at Seoul House on Russell St. I remember being excited to be cooking our own meat on a BBQ placed on our table, a foreign concept to me back then. Excitement, however, turned to disappointment when all I could taste for the rest of the night was god-awful sweetness thanks to whatever they put in the marinade. It was like they had poured an entire 2 litre bottle of coke in the mix or something.

Because of that experience, my stance towards Korean food has been somewhat negative. While I have not actively sought out Korean restaurants as a dinner destinations, I would nevertheless follow a mate there should they wish to have Korean. No matter where I went, the food at every single place never did anything for me. And every time I walked out of a Korean place, I would often smell like 1) smoke, 2) pickled cabbage, 3) garlic or 4) all of the above. So when my mum insisted on having lunch at this Korean restaurant in Chadstone yesterday, I was a bit apprehensive. Adam and I had really wanted to try that dumplings place in Glen Waverley that Dave recommended. But mum was persistent, “No, this place is GREAT!” she assured us. In the end, tightarseness prevailed (she was paying) and so off we went down Warrigal Road to a place called Let’s Bab.

It really is a weird name for a restaurant. Kinda like David Bowie eating a bowl of rice or bibimbab in Seoul (“bab” either refers to the Korean word for rice or “bibimbab”, a Korean dish). The place was rather full when we arrived but luckily, a table for four me, mum, Kenneth and Adam was available for me, mum, Kenneth and Adam. Looking at the menu, I found that half the items were Japanese which meant that there were also takoyaki and udons amongst bulgogis. The prices were also quite reasonable, bento boxes were $8 and mains averaged $9. It took me some time to choose my meal but in the end, I decided to play it safe by going for the Japanese seafood ramen (though the menu claimed that it was “authentic Korean” – ??!).

We shared a plate of korokke (deep fried potato croquettes, $6). The menu advertised 4 pieces but we ended up with 3 whole pieces, cut up to make 6 individual pieces. A sukiyaki-tasting dipping sauce accompanied the croquettes which weren’t anything special.

My seafood ramen ($8.50). Now, where shall I begin? Firstly, the noodles were nothing more than maggi noodles. Secondly, all the “seafood” that was in my soup was one large prawn, two or three smaller shrimps, one small pippi and one piece of seafood extender. The rest of the contents was made up of sliced cabbage and carrots. Finally, the soup. It was way too spicy for me which masked any attempts (or lack of) at flavour. Even Adam, who loves spicy things, found it way too spicy. I struggled to finish the whole thing because it was that horrible. Ugh. And I didn’t eat the kim chi that was provided either.

My mum’s “special” dish of creamy garlic prawns with kim chi fried rice ($15). This item was featured on the specials board and for some reason, mum didn’t see the word “creamy” in it. So when this flouro-toxic waste pile appeared in front of her, she was rather shocked. I managed to have a nibble at the sauce which tasted a lot like a bad batch of carbonara. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever had at an Asian restaurant. Ew. I didn’t bother with the kim chi fried rice because I just knew that I wasn’t going to like it. My mum also left this dish unfinished.

The other two wisely chose rice dishes which were set out the same as the bento boxes (rice+whatever meat you decide to have, fried tofu with okonomiyaki sauce and mayo, kim chi, salad) but a bit more expensive. Kenneth’s bulgogi was $11 while Adam’s unagi on rice was $9.50. I took photos of both their dishes but sadly, they turned out pretty bad so I’ve decided to omit those photos here. I didn’t mange to have a taste of Kenneth’s beef (but it illicited no complaints from the big man) whereas a bite of Adam’s unagi immediately caused a gag reflex as it was way too sweet. Nevertheless, I did eat his tofu (pictured on the bottom right hand corner in the above photo) which, at least, filled me up until we got to Box Hill. And it didn’t suck either.

Our meal at Let’s Bab has reinforced the hypothesis that Ms Libby and Korean food just don’t work well together. It could be that Let’s Bab was just another sucky restaurant, yet it seems to be popular, particularly with the local Korean population so it can’t suck that much right? Or, it could be that I just came on a bad day – after all, my mum said that her last visit was much better. With this in mind, I want to ask my readers where I could actually find some Korean food that would make me vomit. Linda suggested Yami (??) in Box Hill which, in hindsight, would have probably been a better idea on the day (we were going to go to Box Hill anyway). Other people have also suggested Oriental Spoon on La Trobe St.

What about YOU?

Where do you go for Korean food in Melbourne?

21 Comments on Let’s Bab

  1. gns_moments
    April 6, 2009 at 04:49 (6 years ago)

    HAHA I had my birthday at… Daeum Gae Jung or something like that… Korean BBQ joint near the corner of Swanston and Lt Bourke. It has fobby girls dressed up in the traditional Moon dress.. I’ve always enjoyed their food there.. alternatively there’s Oriental Spoon on La Trobe st… bitchy service.. large servings.. but I don’t go there to be treated like a prince.. then again I think Koreans tend to be judged as brutes through western standards

  2. icesabre
    April 6, 2009 at 04:50 (6 years ago)

    I don’t really eat Korean food. Or like it. Usually it’s a Bibimbap rice dish hahaha.Although I must admit I go to all them Mama places on Whitehorse Rd and the other place next to the Karaoke place near the Korean Haircut place and the Korean Grocery store on that street behind my Office building.Heh. My friends are so into Korean. I seriously don’t know why. Movies I can understand. Food, hrmmmm…

  3. KeLlY_Siew
    April 6, 2009 at 05:23 (6 years ago)

    Oriental Spoon is not bad but I like Korean Garden (I think it is called) in Clayton – in my opinion the best Korean I’ve had (Centre Road off Clayton Road). The other one would be Korean Kimchi house on little latrobe street almost around the same position as Oriental spoon but a street away.

  4. is_sa
    April 6, 2009 at 05:57 (6 years ago)

    i guess we are opposites Lib, i love korean food, from the first moment my korean teacher back in highschool started to tell us about the different types of korean food. or maybe it was cause of our school trip to korea that kinda instilled in me the love of the food. unfortunately, im pretty bad with names, so i wont be much help. the places i actually like going to, are not well known. once i remember the names ill give you a shout out. hehehe.

  5. fipar20
    April 6, 2009 at 06:39 (6 years ago)

    Mmm…I second Oriental Spoon. =]Pretty cheap during lunch and some of their spicy dishes are extremely spicy.

  6. chaoness
    April 6, 2009 at 07:12 (6 years ago)

    oriental spoon  <3 those maggi noodles look so disappointing!

  7. icesabre
    April 6, 2009 at 07:12 (6 years ago)

    Yep, Korean Garden/Kangnaroo in Clayton as Kelly said. Except I’m not sure if you’re willing to make the trip down to Clayton like you did with Nam Giao… roughly same travel time!!!

  8. I_Luv_Cocacola
    April 6, 2009 at 08:45 (6 years ago)

    I have told you previously about oriental spoon, there is a korean place opposite shoya next to the german place that i used to goto, white tomato on bourke near funky curry, there is another good korean joint near QVM la porchetta on victoria parade and also i dont mind the faux korean stuff at teahouse on whitehorse road in box hill after tafe(last year when i had an income, i dont eat lunch anymore due to financial reasons)

  9. I_Luv_Cocacola
    April 6, 2009 at 08:47 (6 years ago)

    I was so enthusiastic to write about where i eat that i forgot to say that korean is almost my favourite food in the entire world. I thought i might as well ad it. Thank Yang Tzu-Han for introducing me to korean lol hahaha.

  10. funky_ass
    April 6, 2009 at 19:00 (6 years ago)

    i havent been to oriental spoon
    but the place i was talking about is called yami yami…
    i went there recently, the food is still nice, but they cut back their seafood serving size which is a disappointment

  11. SNSAZN
    April 7, 2009 at 04:09 (6 years ago)

    @gns_moments – @fipar20 – @chaoness – @I_Luv_Cocacola – Okay, I will endeavour to try Oriental Spoon very very soon. Thanks guys!@icesabre – @KeLlY_Siew – Is this Korean Garden place within walking distance from Clayton train station? If I’m feeling hungry after class, I might actually go there! Ahh, there’s one GOOD thing about going to uni in Clayton!

  12. gns_moments
    April 7, 2009 at 06:14 (6 years ago)

    @SNSAZN – just be prepared for the bitchy service! its part of the genuine cultural experience.. lol

  13. Lady_tRucey
    April 8, 2009 at 06:15 (6 years ago)

    omg… that does not look like korean food… :-S
    I go to KANG NA ROO in Clayton; the bibimbap is awesome there; and so is their soups and BOSSAM yummoooOo!!! And I also go to SEVEN in Carnegie (but thats no way near as good as Kangnaroo IMO)
    MMMm… I generally stick to KANG NA ROO; oh and this other korean restaurant in Clayton, near the cheesecake shop, but have no idea what its called- I think its the Korean Garden mentioned above, the hotpots there are awesome. But KANG NA ROO hands down.
    I love korean food!

    • Scarlet
      August 12, 2010 at 07:48 (5 years ago)

      I went to Kangnaroo the other day with 3 others ppl, they kicked us out just because of the reason “you dont order enough dishes”

      • libishski
        August 25, 2010 at 21:46 (5 years ago)

        Wow, that’s no good at all and certainly something that will turn people like myself off.

        Just out of interest, how much did you order? (in terms of price and number of dishes)

      • David
        September 16, 2010 at 12:03 (5 years ago)

        Simple, don’t be tight when you go there. Order some dumplings and kimchi pancake to start and then one dish per person + rice each.
        Don’t try to fill up on the sides they provide for free.
        The food is great and they want you to experience that.

  14. peach_water
    April 9, 2009 at 05:56 (6 years ago)

    I was going to reply to this entry, but missed it!I agree with Kelly. Try out Oriental spoon. It’s great. My friend who’s a picky eater, loves it. I love the food there too. Authentic as well!The most recent place I went to was: Hwaro BBQ. It’s pretty expensive, and I ended up smelling like smoke, but I had a change of t-shirt. I think I blogged about it recently.I dunno, I’m a fan of Korean food, never had any bad experience, but hate the prices coz it’s so expensive!

  15. David
    September 16, 2010 at 12:01 (5 years ago)

    Kangnaroo is the best Korean I have ever eaten. The lady who runs the show is top-notch (I think she is over in Korea at the moment so don’t judge when she is not there). Really appreciative of return customers and a lovely person too.
    Order anything and you won’t be dissapointed.
    Always a pleasant surprise when you receive the bill for a big group. Cost per person is very reasonable.
    For couples it can seem a little dear at times, but it depends what you order.

    • libishski
      September 18, 2010 at 16:28 (5 years ago)

      Hi David, thanks for your comments.
      Yes, I really have to check out this Kangnaroo place because it seems to get the thumbs up from quite a number of people! Do you know if they make a good version of bibimbap?


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