Melbourne Dae Jang Geum Korean BBQ is the sort of restaurant that I would normally avoid in Chinatown. The entrance is manned by a bored tout in national costume wielding a picture menu. Plus as it’s upstairs you can’t check whether there are any patrons inside.
If you make your dining choices in the same way, I’ve now done the hard work for you and can confirm that Melbourne Dae Jang Geum Korean BBQ is HOT. The hidden-away restaurant is named after a well-known sprawling Korean historical drama but the decor is not tacky – the wallpaper is basically columns of Korean characters and the huge dining room is very functional, with neat rows of tables housing built-in BBQs. When I went on a weeknight it was reasonably full and there was only one non-Asian diner. A good sign!
We left the ordering to our resident Korean, Akisa (who I met at the Nuffnang Christmas Party) and she selected a broad range of traditional dishes: spicy stir fried rice cakes – look at the colour of it! ($10); a large crispy-fried seafood pancake (15.00), a sizzling bibimbap (mixed rice in a hot stone bowl) ($14) and a huge seafood hot pot served with plain rice ($39). Everything was full of flavour but Akisa said that most of the heat had been toned down – so next time we’ll have to assure them that we can withstand chillies.
The four of us were practically rolling off our chairs at the end of our meal. Best of all, our Korean feast came to $20 a head.
- Melbourne Dae Jang Geum Korean BBQ, Level 1, 235 Little Bourke St, Melbourne +61 3 9662 9445