Today we have a guest post from Jetsetting Mum after her recent visit to Melbourne. What can I say, she really didn’t like Seoul Restaurant.

Ever since we came back from a trip to Seoul a few months ago, Jetsetting Dad and I have been yearning for some good authentic Korean food in Australia. We ate quite a variety of good quality Korean food when we were there which enabled us to acquire a broader knowledge of the Korean cuisine (if nothing else, we can, at least, tell what a good kimchi should taste like).

During a recent visit to Melbourne, JD and I were walking up Little Bourke Street at lunch-time and checking out the eateries along the way. We stopped outside Seoul Restaurant and were tempted by the reasonably priced lunch menu, so we walked in.

We ordered one of the lunch combinations: Bibimbap with beef (steamed rice mixed with vegetables) + kimchi pancake ($19.50); and Spicy seafood fried noodles ($9.50). Water was promptly brought to our table together with two plastic cups.

In a traditional Korean meal, small dishes are always served as accompaniments, sometimes as many as five to six dishes. Three small dishes came with our order: the ubiquitous kimchi which was chilli red in colour but totally bland in taste; bean sprouts with a dash of sesame oil; and pickled cabbage and chives. I found the complementary miso soup a bit too salty for my taste.

The bibimbap arrived in a bowl topped with some strips of beef, vegetables and a fried egg. The rice was lukewarm which was disappointing as I always like my steamed rice hot. Overall, the whole dish was quite bland and ordinary.

The kimchi pancake and the spicy noodles came to the table at about the same time and strangely, they were of the same colour: red like tomato sauce! The kimchi pancake was fried with some undistinguishable vegetables and had no taste at all; even the dipping sauce was flavourless. Where was that fiery hot, salty and garlicky taste of kimchi so commonly found in Korean food? In terms of the texture, the round pancake was crispy on the edge but got more and more gluey towards the centre. In the end, half of the food remained on the plate.

The spicy noodles came with a couple of mussels, small prawns and a few pieces of squid on the side. It was the best dish of our selection as it was at least spicy and hot in temperature.

All in all, the lunch experience was a disappointment. The food was nothing close to what we had tasted in Korea. Perhaps the food at Seoul Restaurant has been so “Australianised” that the original authentic flavour is long lost.

Seoul on Urbanspoon