September 10, 2011 Leave a comment
Name: Seoul House
Location: 234 Russell St, near the corner of Russell/Lonsdale
Price: Mains $15-25, though bibimbap is $6.80 ($8.80 for bibimbap in stone pot)
Cost rating: 3/5
Taste rating overall: 8/10
The setting is more upscaled than I expected. I come in expecting to get a $6.80 bibimbap in a bowl as a lunch special, and sit in a fairly mediocre sort of place, then eat a hopefully good bibimbap with a spicy sauce. But it surprisingly nice inside.
However, instead of bibimbap, we ordered Korean BBQ instead. Here are 2 visits to Seoul House condensed into one post. The overarching theme is BBQ. All of these are $15.50, but there are some more pricey ones. They come with assorted kimchis.
- Beef ribs
- Pork belly
- Beef scotch fillet
- spicy chicken
- oyster mushrooms
Here comes the contentious point. The staff at Seoul House cook for you. Some people like this aspect, some people don’t. I appreciate the sentiment, and I’m happy to let them cook for me, then let them cut the larger portions into bite-sized pieces. But I also enjoy the novelty of cooking my own meal. Give me a pair of tongs and I’ll flip that piece of meat excessively. (On the other hand, it might actually be a good thing that somebody came along and cooked for us.)
Score: 10/10, can’t think of anything I didn’t like, or anything else I wanted.
Contains: Beef ribs, the meaty portions unravelled out from the bone, a button mushroom and a bit of brown onion. The beef is already marinated, so its super tasty.
Then the waiter comes up and starts the cooking process.
After the meaty bits are done (the bone can still do with more time), your waiter will cut it up into smaller bite-sized pieces for you.
Out of the five reviewed items in this post, the beef rib is my favourite. It’s already marinated, so it’s very flavoursome. Plus it has the BBQ-ey taste from being cooked on a hotplate. While I have not met a beef rib that has chewy meat, ribs can definately be very oily and greasy if they’re not done right. But the beef ribs here aren’t greasy at all because the oil trickles down the hotplate dome.
Score: 8/10, but this score can be higher for those who like pork belly.
Contains: Thin slices of pork belly
I have a working theory that Melbourne is going through a Pork Belly revival scene. Fifteen years ago or so, fatty meats were seen as a decadent but tasty option when eating meat. It was fatty, but the fat makes sure the meat is tender and juicy. It was an honest time for food. Then along the way, lean meats made their way in. In a way, it was good for the waistline, but it irked me to see people with irrational fears of fat. Then we entered the recent years, where suddenly there was pork belly everything in the food scene. Pork belly at Red Spice Road, pork belly on television shows as the velvety new chic, pork belly sandwiches at Earl’s Canteen, then more pork belly sandwich variations at fancier sandwich and baguette places, and more pork belly praise on social networking comments by the year. I’d say pork belly has made its comeback.
Regardless of Melbourne trends in food, slices of pork belly is a extremely popular in Korean cuisine. The pork isn’t marinated, so there’s a sesame oil based dipping sauce to go with it. It has salt at the bottom, so don’t scoop out too much of the cloudy blob at the bottom, because you will only recieve a mouthful of salt.
BEEF SCOTCH FILLET
Contents: Thin slices of beef, still thawing
I found this to be sliced a bit too thin to handle the hot grill. Or if you do want every bit of fat to sizzle away, leaving only lean meat to be consumed, then this is the dish for you. As for me, I’m sticking with the juicy beef ribs.
Contents: Marinated chicken, skin on. However, unexpectedly lean. Also, some onion.
The chicken is marinated in a red sauce, which has copious amounts of garlic and ginger. It is very lean, despite having the skin on. The skin itself is very thin, and seems to have had the fatty layer beneath it sucked out. I like chicken skin, but this chicken skin doesn’t have the usual mouthfeel. Great for those who are watching their cholesterol intake.
Taste-wise, it isn’t overtly spicy. Initially, it’s not spicy, then after a while the heat kicks in. It has a mild slow-burn as you eat it. But having said that it is not very spicy at all. Sweet chili sauce would be spicier.
Contents: Just a plate of oyster mushrooms.
A plate of oyster mushrooms, plain and simple.
When you cook the mushrooms on the grill, they will wilt. Since these are unseasoned, you will get a little dish of the sesame oil-based sauce with salt on the bottom. But since there were other things on the grill, I didn’t feel the need to use the sesame oil. There are also kimchis to go with your meal. In addition to that, oyster mushrooms are fine on their own without seasoning.
With BBQ, you’ll get several dishes of kimchi. Kimchi is an all-empassing term for pickles. Most people associate kimchi with red spicy napa cabbage pickled in chilis and vinegar. For most part (in Melbourne at least), that is what you’ll recieve when you order kimchi. But there are plenty of other kimchis, not all of them spicy.
In an anti-clockwise direction starting from the far left, spicy napa cabbage kimchi, fast-pickle beanshoots, fast-pickle cabbage slaw, marinated fish pancake, sugar broil potato.
Spicy napa cabbage kimchi: The standard fare. It’s a lingering heat sort of spicy. It’s also sour from the vinegar. It’s considerably spicier than the Spicy chicken. Give it a go. It won’t be spicy in the way that it’ll numb your tastebuds for the rest of your meal.
Fast-pickle beanshoots: I use the term fast-pickle to refer to a very short pickling process. It simply involves immersing vegetables in a solution of diluted vinegar and sugar for an hour or so, depending on the vegetable. The result is a pickle-like taste but without the sogginess from over-steeping. The vegetables will be crunchy. Beanshoots aren’t the hardiest of vegetables, so they’ll only take an hour. For thicker julienned carrots, it might take 6 hours. Beanshoot pickle is crunchy and sour to freshen up the palate after oily beef ribs and meatiness.
Fast-pickle cabbage slaw: It is very much like coleslaw, but without the mayonnaise. It’s very crunchy.
Marinated fish pancake: It seems to be marinated with a bit of sesame oil, soy sauce and maybe garlic. I didn’t pay much attention to what was in it, because it was only lightly marinated. One day I’ll be able to rattle off ingredients from tasting. I describe fish pancakes in my post about fish pancake hotpot. Come get your fish pancakes.
Essentially, fish pancake is made from fish paste mixed in a pancake-like batter. My lunching companion didn’t like them very much, prefering the less floury fishcake more common in south-east asian (SEA) dishes. I like the SEA fishcake, but I also like fish pancake.
Sugar broil potatoes: I know this sounds like a weird dish. Sugar? In potato? Yes. It’s simmered in a sweet broth until it absorbs the flavour of the broth. It tastes like sweet potato, but with a salty soy sauce background. This is my favourite, so please try it if you get the chance.
Only one new contender here, boiled broccoli. But you get a closer view of the fast-pickle beanshoots (and carrots). I wish they had given us the fish pancake and sugar potato too.
Although I had initially set out to eat bibimbap here, I just ate copious amounts of BBQ. No regrets. I would definitely recommend their beef rib, and that you cross your fingers for the sugar broil potato side dish.