White Tomato

Name: White Tomato
Location: Bourke St/Russell St, near Allans Music store
Price range: Lunch specials are AUD$9.50, available 12-3pm on weekdays. Otherwise, entrees are $5-8, mains are $11-18, drinks are $3 onwards (there are also bottles of sake, which make the drinks price range very broad) and you can also get large hotpots to share (serves 4) $30-38.

White Tomato is a Korean restaurant with affordable fare, but you can always work up the list and supplement your dinner with entrees, drinks and dessert. Just in case you wanted to spurge on a fantastic however-many course dinner.

You walk in, and the first thing that’ll catch your eye will probably be the christmas lights along the stairway. Then the funnels hovering above every table. There isn’t a photo of the giant funnel/fume hood/shimney, which I regret now, but here is a photo of the wallpaper.

The fume hoods are for drawing the steam away from the sizzling hot food. Otherwise with all the sizzling clay pots of food, and the pails of boiling hotpot, and the spicy smell of Korean food would condense onto your glasses, or in your nostrils and eyes, which detracts from the overall experience.

All the food items below are from the lunch special menu, all AUD$9.50 It’s a cropped menu with hotpots, rice/noodle and cold dishes. Eventually, I will have details on all the options as this place is one of my current favourites for lunch.

Bibimbap

A dish which is as fun to eat as it is to say. It’s a signature Korean rice dish in a big clay bowl. The rice lining the sides of the pot become crispy and crunchy, which is apparently the best part of having rice cooked in a clay pot. On top of the rice is a mix of sauteed and seasoned vegetables and beef, arranged in colour-blocks to be aesthetically pleasing. (I particularly enjoy this aspect. It’s so colourful and compartmentalised.) Usually there’ll be a fried or raw egg too. In this one, you get both. Here, you also get a little dish of spicy chili paste, and another dish of kimchi.

Pork and potato hotpot. Pork bones with bits of pork falling off the bone, and potato. There is also dried bokchoy reconstituted in the mildly spicy broth. Dried bokchoy doesn’t sound very appetising, but it does have a distinct-but-not-overpowering flavour that complements beef or pork, especially when it has been boiled with them to form a broth. It’s the broth where the flavour is at. It’s sunny and woody without being herbaceous or overly sweet. As with every other vegetable, it’s also a healthy and flavoursome addition to your meal. It should get more love.

Soft tofu and seafood hotpot. It has what seems to be an entire tube of soft eggy tofu, with assorted seafood in a mildly spicy broth. (Mildly spicy meaning I got through the entire dish without shedding tears.) There’s an egg in there too. Soft eggy tofu comes in a tube, it’s too delicate to be stored in a solid container. It’s like custard, but oddly delicious despite being vegan. Real custard is always delicious.

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