Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who offered suggestions on where to go for decent Korean food in Melbourne. Oriental Spoon, it seemed, was crowd favourite and so I made a resolution to go there for lunch over the weekend. As luck would have had it, I was in the city today (okay fine, it wasn’t really “luck”, I had no choice but to haul myself to RMIT Business Library to work on my assignment which is due on Monday). Adam had an hour long lunch break which gave us a good opportunity to walk across to La Trobe St where the extremely popular canteen-like place stood.
It was just past 12pm when we arrived, so it wasn’t very busy. While the hotpot options looked oh-so-appealing, we didn’t have time for that today (and I didn’t want to go to the library smelling like smoke and meat) so we opted for individual dishes. I wouldn’t mind coming here for some hot pot action one day though.
I had their supposedly famous bibimbap with beef for $15.90 (you can also choose between chicken and tofu). It came in a cute stone bowl which was sizzling hot to the touch (I made the mistake of brushing my right index finger against the bowl which, of course, caused a slight burn). In it was a generous serving of white rice and cooked vegies. Resting on top of everything was a single egg, cooked sunnyside up. A bottle of Korean sweet chilli pepper paste was provided to spice things up a bit as well. I was instructed to mix everything up, which I did. On its own, the sweetly marinated beef tasted really good but its flavour was drowned by the rest of the ingredients and when mixed together, each spoonful rendered a bit tasteless. Tentatively, I added a bit more pepper paste which did made it taste better but I longed for a bit more sweet and beefy flavour. I don’t know whether bibimbap is actually supposed to be like that (the beef and its marinade not being tasty enough) or whether I’m just picky but I guess I’ll have to go try it somewhere else! (by the way, this was the first time I’ve had it ever. What, don’t look at me like that! )
Adam loves eels so he went for the grilled eel ($18.90). Marinated in a sweet soya sauce, the eel was chopped into pieces and roasted roasted before being served on a sizzling plate on top of a bed of beansprouts. I’m not a fan of eel at all but one bite of his eel made me go “mmmm” as it was so sweet and rich and so buttery that it fell apart in my mouth. You may also call me weird but it tasted a bit like lollies (then again, I HAVE been eating too much chocolate the last fortnight or so). Adam said that while it wasn’t extraordinary, he did feel satisfied and saw it as a “pretty decent lunch.”
10 billion little bowls of pickled vegies were also laid out on the table for us to nibble on, most of which I didn’t touch because I’m not a huge fan of kimchi (which is a shame really, because I would really love to like it ). I did manage to nibble on some fermented tofu and some nori pieces before the waitress asked us if we would like any more sides (presumably, they were free) to which we said no because we were full anyway. With 15 minutes left til the end of Adam’s lunchbreak, we got up and paid for our meal ($38.10, including drinks) and out we went. I really liked the cleanliness of the place. I really liked the friendly and attentive wait staff (they weren’t all brutuses so I don’t know what Joe was on about!). And while I don’t think that it was THE best Korean restaurant in Melbourne, at least it restored my faith in Korean food!
Oh and if you were wondering how my assignment-ing session went, well… let’s just say that I DID manage to get work done which is always a good thing. I was hoping to finish everything off by 5pm (closing time) but alas it didn’t happen . Apparently some poor kid’s laptop got stolen at the library this afternoon while they ducked out for 30 seconds to look for a book which prompted one of the libraries to run around and tell people to watch their belongings at all times. Having to pack up Adam’s heavy Powerbook numerous times (i.e. when I wanted to go to the bathroom or when I needed to find a book) and setting everything up again definitely wasn’t fun… hmmmrph.